HarperCollins announced today that it was planning to start distributing its backlist catalog through On Demand Books. Around 5 thousand titles will be part of the “Comprehensive Backlist” program when it launches, and readers will be able to buy one of these titles at any bookstore that has an Espresso Book Machine.
The EBM is a rather large all-in-one book printing solution that was developed by On Demand Books. Bookstores can buy or rent one and then sell to the public any of the thousands books listed in the catalog. The bookstores will have to pay a royalty to the copyright holder for each copy, but they can price the book however they wish.
The program will initially cover HC titles which are either out-of-stock or aren’t normally carried in bookstore. The first group of books will be available in November, and titles from Zondervan and HarperCollins Canada will be available early next year.
Here’s a demo video that shows an EBM in operation.
What I find more interesting is that this is HC’s second foray into print-on-demand. The UK branch of HarperCollins has been using POD since at least last year. Phil Gyford, who has been running the Pepys’ Diary blog, noticed a drop in the construction quality of the books after the switch. I’m worried that the same might happen with the switch to using the Espresso Book Machine.