How can the NewLights Press use Print-On-Demand (POD) books as a primary mode of production?

My first thought was to use POD to reproduce and distribute existing, unique/small edition books. This has obvious advantages, and it is hard for me to square my desire to get the books to as many readers as possible with the form-content-production-reception integrity of the individual pieces. To cite a specific example: recently a friend brought up the idea of a “trade” version of The Drownable Species, because it is a book that many people are interested in, but few can afford. And I am very tempted to do a POD book of it (Though I would have to ask Brian, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, because he’s the nicest guy in the world. Coincidentally, he has a new book of short stories out.) But the problem with REproducing The Drownable Species is that it was produced through a physical disruption of a normally straight reproductive process (the pouring of water onto still-wet inkjet prints). The inherent unpredictability of that process combined with the disorienting effect it has on the reader are central to the book. (They are not essential to the story, but the thing is, as always, is to make the book so that it becomes more than just a “nice” printing/binding of a text.)

A reproduction of the book would mimic those effects. The idea would still be conveyed. Ah, there’s the problem: “the idea would still be conveyed.” The process of re-production would transform the book from a concrete (primary, actual) object into a representational (secondary, symbolic, simulacral) object. The real thing made into a sign for the real thing.

But it would be great to get the book out to more readers. A trade edition might even help sell more copies of the limited edition. It would be nice to sell more books, but this is not about money. At some point in the future, the story will be published in a collection of Brian’s stories. So the story will always be available…


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