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Jewish World Review
May 12, 2006
/ 14 Iyar, 5766
A silent publishing revolution
If what I'm seeing is any indication, we're on the verge of some
remarkable changes in the world of book publishing. And, it's all coming
from folks who have access to computers, basic software programs as well
as, oh yes, the Internet.
While many in the industry are awaiting the arrival of BookExpo America at
the Washington Convention Center on May 19, some of the real excitement in
publishing was to have happened on May 8.
That was the day SpiderWorks LLC, a Virginia-based firm, was due to
release "The Xbox 360 Uncloaked," a look behind the scenes of the creation
and launch of the Microsoft gaming computer, which broke as many hearts
last Christmas, due to short supply, as it probably warmed.
The book is written by Dean Takahashi, a veteran tech reporter for the San
Jose Mercury News whose work is respected by many in the industry. You can
download an electronic version of the book for only $14.95; if you want a
printed copy, it's $10 more. Details on the volume can be found at
But that print copy will come to you via Lulu.com, a print-on-demand book
publisher in Morrisville, North Carolina. The four-year-old brainchild of
Red Hat Software co-founder Bob Young, Lulu exists, a company statement
says, "in order to foster a more open marketplace for intellectual
property. ... At Lulu there is no gatekeeper, no grizzled editor deciding
what and who is worthy of reaching the marketplace."
What that means to SpiderWorks and Mr. Takahashi is that they can set up a
print book and not have to worry about warehousing, storage, shipping or
any of the traditional elements of publishing. The electronic version is
easy to download if one has a high-speed Internet connection. For print
buyers, Mr. Young's Lulu handles the heavy lifting.
Lulu.com is, as advertised, accessible to individuals who want to be
publishers as well. If you want to publish a book in a
six-inch-by-nine-inch format, you can do so, either as a "perfect bound"
paperback, a saddle-stitched booklet, a plastic-coil-bound book or one
with hard covers, the latter with or without a dust jacket. The firm
charges a binding fee of $4.53 per copy for the non-hardcover bindings,
and $14 for a hardcover without a dust jacket, $15 with a dust jacket,
plus 2-cents per page for printing. For a 300-page book, that can mean a
base cost of between $10.53 and $21 for each copy, with no minimum order.
The technology is called print-on-demand and unlike some other printing
ventures, Lulu requires you to be your own editor, or non-editor as the
case may be. Upload your book as a PDF file and you're off to the races,
but you must do your own layout and formatting, not to mention editing.
Needless to say, the SpiderWorks firm did those things for Mr. Takahashi;
others can find freelance editors and designers through listings on the
As you might imagine, the books for sale via Lulu.com vary all over the
lot in terms of subject matter and quality. Some, such as Mr. Takahashi's
Xbox tome, are very much like the commercially published books you'd find
at Barnes & Noble; others are, well, probably best described as "acquired
taste" items. Apart from that aspect, though, just imagine what the
technology can do: it can make you an instant published author. While you
may or may not become the next John Grisham as a result, a once-exclusive
playing field is now a whole lot more level.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com