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- From the Tech Desk
Emerson and Thoreau "On Demand"
Harvard University Press Announces "Print-on-Demand" Partnership with Acme BookbindingThe backlist, it has been said, is the backbone of academic publishing, and no backlist is more impressive than that of Harvard University Press. Peopled with a host of legendary authors, from Emerson, Thoreau, and William James to Lord Byron, HUP's backlist not only maintains the tradition of scholarly excellence upon which the Press was founded but remains a strong source of revenue-when books are in print and available.
To meet the challenge of keeping books in stock and readily available to customers, many publishers have turned, thanks to new technologies, to "print-on-demand" services, whereby publishers license their materials to a printer who will then produce a copy or copies of the book virtually overnight. The drawbacks to this approach include the licensing agreement between publisher and printer, which affords the printer a portion of the royalties, and the fact that it is the printer and not the publisher who controls how the finished book ultimately looks. In addition, for publishers of high quality texts like HUP, a particular challenge has been to maintain the integrity of their books from a production point of view while meeting the needs of a growing number of print-on-demand customers.
Through its partnership with Acme Bookbinding, a historic Boston company with over one hundred seventy-five years of experience in fine quality bookbinding, Harvard University Press has found a way to maintain control of the production and the quality of its print-on-demand titles while retaining the rights to these works. "This is truly a marriage of history and technology," says Bill Sisler, Director of Harvard University Press. "Acme, like HUP, is committed to preserving the past while, at the same time, making use of the latest technologies to move publishing forward. Acme will help us further our mission to disseminate knowledge by publishing books that meet the most rigorous academic standards, that are of the highest quality, and that will last forever."
A family-owned and operated business, Acme Bookbinding has offered an array of book preservation services since 1821 and is among the largest and most diversified bookbinders in New England. The owner, Paul Parisi -- himself a Harvard graduate -- grew up in the business, helping out in his father's workshop from the age of four. He shares with his colleagues a passion for keeping the printed word alive. "I'm so proud of what we've been able to do with this partnership," says Parisi. "When you think about it, the printed word helps keep alive the philosophies that shaped our democracy. Putting back into print, in a beautiful, high quality volume that will last forever, a classic work of history or philosophy is like making a museum piece available to everyone."
Under the new agreement, an order for a particular book will come from the bookstore or individual customer into Harvard's warehouse, TriLiteral. It will then register electronically at Acme via an EDI (electronic data interchange) transaction-initiating the manufacture and delivery of the book. "Although the production process is revolutionary," says Harvard Sales Director Susan Donnelly, "the ordering process will be seamless for our customers, and the end result will still look like a Harvard book."
John Walsh, Production Manager at HUP, agrees. "The books in this program have all been printed as facsimiles of the last edition: there have been no compromises to typefaces, font sizes and margins; they appear in their original trim size. Acme has carefully scanned every page of the original. The books have been printed on papers that match the weight, shade, caliper, and opacity of those first editions. The paper was developed by Glatfelter as an archival quality grade specifically for the digital printing market. The books have been bound to the highest library rebinding standards, in real cloth, with headbands and reinforced endpapers. A new standard has been created; indeed, a benchmark for digital book production."
Harvard University Press will inaugurate this partnership by making available one hundred classic titles, among them the Papers of John Adams, the Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and The History of the Magazine. Additional currently out of print titles will be made available on a continual basis.