Powell's Books, which has seven stores in and around Portland, Ore., has started Powell's Press, which, in conjunction with the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, will publish out-of-print books of regional interest. Using Lightning Source for print-on-demand and fulfillment, the press has modest ambitions. "There is a vast ocean of potential," the company's Miriam Sontz told PW, "but we don't expect a nationwide deluge of orders."
Sontz said Powell's sees the new venture as "a trial, and we're going into it with a sense of play. There's a lot to learn about print-on-demand and publishing as it gets decentralized. We want to participate and learn by doing." Powell's has occasionally published books, but Powell's Press is a new entity. Its first two titles, by Oregon natives, are A Country Boy by Homer Davenport with a new introduction by Walt Curtis and Six Months in Russia by Louise Bryant with a new introduction by Mary Dearborn. The books will be released this month. Sontz emphasized that print-on-demand has made the new imprint possible. "The entry fee is so much lower than 20 years ago," Sontz said. "We hope we can get it to less than $1,000 per book, which makes it possible for us to bring back some authors who will sell not in the thousands but in the hundreds." The books will retail for $10—$12. Employees at Powell's Books, particularly those in the promotion and publicity department and the graphics department, are contributing time to the imprint. "It's a matter of high standards of professionalism and a minimalist budget," Sontz said.