When Bowker's 2009 book industry stats werereleased yesterday many in the industry were stunned to see an unfamiliarcompany name, BiblioBazaar, leading a surging new segment of "non-traditional"publishing stats with a whopping 272,930 titles produced in 2009--almost asmany titles the entire "traditional" publishing business cranked out lastyear. Could it be? Could one little-known company really produce so muchvolume?
"If by ‘produce' you mean create a cover file that willprint at multiple POD vendors, a book block that will print at multiple PODvendors, and metadata to sell that book in global sales channels, then yes, wedid produce that many titles," said Mitchell Davis, president of BiblioLife, parentcompany of BiblioBazaar.
While e-books, iPads and Kindles have dominated theheadlines, BiblioLife is one of a handful of smart, new, technology-enabledcompanies driving an exciting trend in the publishing world. Working closelywith libraries, archives and aggregators, the companyputs out-of-copyright books back into good old-fashioned print, one copyat a time, using print-on-demand technology.
"We are really a software company that has books comingout at the end of our process." Davisexplained. "We have built a large IT infrastructure and a proprietary platformwhere we take disparate inputs and turn what is essentially a picture of a bookpage, into what a reader expects a book will look like, and we do that for morethan a thousand books a day for distribution through multiple POD channels, inmultiple countries and markets."
All of the company's content is in the public domain, andare basically "historical reprints," Davistold PW, with foreign language books, and their "added layers of complexity"the fastest growing category of books. "Dealing with out-of-copyright materialslets us leverage our knowledge and relationships in the global booksellingindustry more easily as we build out what is shaping up to be a pretty killerplatform," he noted.
Speaking of killer platforms, Davis has some experience with those. Davis, along withBiblioLife CEO Bob Holt and CFO Andrew Roskill, were founders ofBookSurge, POD software and publishing services company bought by Amazon in2005. After that deal, Davis spent two years atAmazon in Seattle,working as a condition of the acquisition to help with the integration ofBookSurge into a division now known as CreateSpace.
So how has Bibliolife, despite its major production,flown under the radar until this year's Bowker stats came out? For one, Davis says, the companysimply isn't seeking publicity as much as good solid relationships andcontent partnerships. "We aren't a press release-centric company, and we arereally focused on unique materials that are not part of mass digitizationprojects," he said. "Who has that content and how we are getting it issomething that is a competitive advantage."
So much for technology ending print, meanwhile. Infact, if anything the Bowker numbers show that technology is driving printbusinesses for companies like BiblioLife, which uses numerousdistribution partners around the world, to create a dynamic, new publishingbusiness. "We are a classic long tail business," Davis noted. "We understand how to operate alean, global publishing operation focused on process. I think it is moreexciting for libraries who can leverage their content expertise into beingpublishers at a pretty massive scale. A few copies of each book adds up if youare running a business with lean enough operational overhead. The key isfinding unique content and realizing that content does not sell itself. We getup every day looking for new sales channels, new products, and new packagingrelationships."