Copyright WatchdogPublishers in the United States and worldwide are facing enormous challenges in the area of intellectual property protection. Securing copyrighted works against unauthorized use in print and electronic format, in the domestic and international marketplace; protecting the integrity of copyrighted works in the digital environment; tracking the use of these works; and developing workable compensation mechanisms are essential if the industry is going to survive and grow.
As the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, the Association of American Publishers is devoting significant resources to meeting this challenge. Their website includes and FAQ's and primers that can help answer questions, such as whether a quote that an author wants to use in a book is in the public domain.
Don’t Get Mad, Get Even (Smarter)
Paladin Press Battles Internet Giants with Hi-Tech WeaponryWhen Paladin Press owner Peder Lund launched his controversial, action publishing business 35 years ago, he never envisioned his most dangerous adversaries would take the form of Internet giants Amazon.com, eBay and Google. The publisher’s military-oriented bestsellers, including The Ultimate Sniper and Close-Range Gunfighting, targeted human predators. But, they were no match for the Internet triple threat of deep discounting, online used books and free excerpts.
As one of the nation’s largest independent publishers with 800 titles in print selling 240,000 how-to books and videos annually on martial arts, firearms and knives, Paladin Press found itself competing for sales with one of its own customers, the mighty Amazon.com. And, more recently, Google’s questionable practice of disemboweling texts for free public consumption created another threat. The niche publisher’s continuing survival depended on the implementation of desperate tactics to battle this Internet duopoly.
With its livelihood threatened by the Internet duo and eBay, which provides a platform for people to sell publisher’s used books online, Lund began to formulate ideas for cutting offset printing and other overhead costs. With help from technology giant Xerox, Lund discovered a valuable weapon in Nuvera, Xerox’s version of Print on Demand (POD) publishing. While initial set-up is slightly more expensive, POD allows publishers to print only what they’re sure they can sell, with the option of quickly producing copies as the need arises. This reduces almost all of the economic risks and expenses traditionally faced by small publishers relying solely on offset printing.
Conventional printing methods generally require runs of 500 – 1,000 books to be economical, and frequently leave small publishers with stacks of unsold inventory. Larger runs also mean that books in less demand eventually go out of print. The Nuvera process allows Paladin Press the freedom to customize its in-house printing jobs, produce a wider range of titles in smaller increments, and keep in print virtually every title it publishes.
“I began exploring the notion of in-house printing 20 years ago, but the technology hadn’t caught up with the concept,” explains Lund. “At that time, we turned to videotapes, which can be similarly reproduced in smaller quantities, to supplement our line of books. In 2005, Xerox introduced the Nuvera copier and Docucolor 6060 with Creo software, designed to replicate offset printing quality. Nuvera allows us to publish more titles in shorter runs, while keeping inventory to a minimum.”
Paladin Press implemented the Nuvera process in October 2005 and the results are even better than expected. Now, the publisher can reprint anywhere from 10 – 500 of its older titles with much faster turnaround time. In the company’s warehouse, unsold inventory stacks have been replaced by a Nuvera in-house printer, cutter, binder and lamination equipment.
“With offset printing, it may take six weeks to two months to produce a book, and there are printer freight costs to consider,” says Lund. “Now, we can do the same thing in about an hour without the additional costs. To remain competitive, we had no choice but to take this direction.”
Print shop manager John Cooke, a former six-year veteran of Xerox, oversees the company’s job scheduling. He is especially pleased with Nuvera’s flexibility in printing book blocks.
“If we receive a large, rush order, we can immediately switch from one job to another to ensure timely completion and shipment. We have the option of using PDF or scanning for the text, and our art department designs the covers. The laminator uses pressure and heat to attach the covers, which then proceed to a single blade for trimming. A binder pulls the covers in and attaches them to the book blocks.”
Cooke notes the print shop, which employs one full-time and two part-time staffers, can produce a 200-page, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch book in quantities of 400-500 per day. Larger volumes, including John L. Plaster’s 8 1/2 x 11 inch, 600-page Ultimate Sniper, considered the bible for military marksmen and police SWAT teams around the country, roll off the printer at around 70 per day.
Paladin Press editorial director Jon Ford was skeptical about the new process until he saw firsthand the quality of the final product. His initial concerns were focused on the authors’ reactions to this new form of publishing.
“They loved it. The Nuvera system definitely equals the quality found in print shops. In addition to new titles, we’re bringing back a number of out-of-print books. Such classic Paladin titles as General Alberto Bayo’s 150 Questions for a Guerrilla (the company’s first published book, released in 1970) had previously been uneconomical to produce through conventional printing methods. With the ability to reprint old titles in shorter runs, we can meet the needs of a new, wider audience. The process has democratized the publishing industry, allowing smaller voices to be heard.”
Ford’s editorial department now produces four catalogs annually and has begun scanning and printing books from the early 1900s, including such hard-to-find titles as How to Box by heavyweight champ “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, which is now in the public domain. He believes the new process is an ideal solution for independent publishers.
While Paladin Press stands at the forefront in implementation of this new printing technology, Nuvera is beginning to generate increased interest among other small publishers. But, the Nuvera system doesn’t come cheap. Paladin Press ponies up $250,000 annually to produce books through their new, in-house print facilities. However, Lund is already planning ways to make the venture more affordable. These include a recent agreement to share the company’s printing facilities with another niche publisher, which produces classic romance titles. After 35 years in the publishing business, Paladin Press doesn’t have to resort to one of its all-time bestsellers, Get Even: The Complete Book of Dirty Tricks to battle the technological giants. With POD publishing, Paladin Press has discovered another way to defeat these Internet Goliaths.
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Dianne Cauble is a freelance writer living in Boulder, Colorado.