The Authors Guild has added an on-demand component to its out-of-print online selling service, backinprint.com, which the organization began developing last fall (News, Oct. 26, 1998). On-demand publisher t xcel will handle all printing responsibilities, and contracts will be negotiated directly between t xcel and authors. The on-demand option can be used by authors who do not have sufficient stock of their titles.
Customers can buy books via the backinprint.com site, through a toll-free number and directly from New York City independent Shakespeare & Co. The bookstore will handle all fulfillment. The books will also be listed in such antiquarian databases as Advanced Book Exchange and Bibliofind.
About 900 authors have already signed up; among them are Roger Angell, Judy Blume and Jean Strouse. These authors will set their own prices for their own books.
Because t xcel is picking up printing costs, the service will be free for authors until the end of the year. By the beginning of 2000, however, authors will be charged a fee for both printing and selling books through the site. Guild members can also make use of the organization's eligibility staff, which will ensure that rights have reverted to the author.
The new program comes in response to a substantial amount of author interest. Guild director Paul Aiken said his organization has been contemplating a program like this for years, and modeled it in part on the Buckley-Little catalogue, which made out-of-print books available for purchase in the 1980s. The site will be marketed through print ads, possibly in the New Yorker.
Aiken played down the Guild's role in backinprint.com, noting, "We're just acting as enablers. All we're doing is negotiating a good deal for our members."