This blog came into being when I self-published New Old World as an e-book in late 2016. Since then I’ve discussed the mechanics of formatting and publishing an e-book, the vicissitudes of bringing a digital work to the attention of the public, and to a lesser extent, the actual contents of the novel.
Now New Old World is starting a second, more traditional life as a book on paper. It did that once before, briefly, when I printed a few copies on the print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine at Powell’s Books in Portland in 2015. It was the length, weight, and cost of that incarnation that convinced me to publish a digital edition instead.
The e-book was received well, if not with a ton of sales. It garnered positive reviews at Apple Books, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and was acquired by the Multnomah County Library (Portland, OR) this year through their Library Writers Project.
But I knew I was leaving out a whole class of potential readers: those who either can’t, or prefer not to, read books electronically. By going digital-only I also had no physical object to show or sell at book fairs and nothing to place in the hands of professional reviewers, for whom e-books are essentially invisible.
Of course my hope was that the e-book would be discovered by a major publisher, who would then produce a print version. But since that hasn’t happened, it was clearly going to be another DIY project. It just remained for me to screw up my courage to reformat yet again (e-books and print books are whole different animals) and find a good printer nearby.
The woman who operated the Espresso Book Machine told me that some of her customers had moved on to Gorham Printing, in Centralia, WA. Gorham specializes in printing self-published books—of all sizes, shapes, style, and content. New Old World wasn’t too big for them, and the per-copy price was better than the EBM (which no longer exists at Powell’s anyway, the joke being that my big book broke it!).
I took a train up to Centralia in June to meet with staff at Gorham, had many questions answered about their capabilities and procedures, took a tour of the plant including their digital printing presses (not offset), and pretty much decided I wanted them to handle my novel. The rest of the summer was spent reformatting the manuscript, upgrading the photographs to a higher resolution, tweaking some language here and there, and updating the back cover with excerpts from readers’ reviews.
So, almost three months later, two boxes of books were delivered to me, a total of 25 copies (Gorham’s minimum run). I’ve always dreaded having boxes of books in my proverbial basement, but this is manageable. Certainly I never want to be in the position of Henry David Thoreau when the remainders of his first book, “A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” came back to him. Always the wit, despite the general view that he was dour, Thoreau said, “I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes over 700 of which I wrote myself.”
In my next post, I will officially announce the availability of New Old World as a print book, with the addition of a “Buy” button that will operate through PayPal. But first, I must get ready for a trip to France, which seems to be my go-to way of celebrating. After all, it was to celebrate the publication of my first book, Faces of a Reservation, that I took a three-month trip to France…which provided the grist for New Old World.