Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)

01 March 2006


Someday, the printing industry will enter the 21st century. How many times have you gotten a great knitting book, a relatively new knitting book, with a living author, from the library, and thought it was so great you wanted your own copy? And then tried to find one, learned it was out of print, searched for it on Abebooks or your choice of used-book service, and found the thing is considered "rare", so the book is going for $90.00 -- or more?

Me, too.

Then I've taken the step of looking up and emailing the publisher, thinking if I gave them the heads-up that their book was selling for a hundred bucks on eBay, they might consider doing a reprint, only to get the email brush-off (if they replied at all!) telling me to check Abebooks or eBay.

That really irritates me when I sent them an email detailing the current prices on Abebooks and the results of recent auctions on eBay.

Then to rant about this on various Yahoo lists, only to be told condescendingly, pityingly, silly little infant, that of course the printers couldn't do another printing -- didn't I know that they would have to do a minimum run of X-thousand copies and sell X copies to break even?

Well, I aced Econ. in college. I understand supply and demand fine. And I deeply resent being forced to rely on the honesty of other library patrons for my ability to continue to re-read a great book, or work a knitting pattern in a book I CAN'T own, because it's not in print and used copies are rare and expensive IF you can find one. Especially since you know and I know that if I am willing to throw my honesty out the window and spend the time, I can make my own copy in these days of scanners and home copiers.

If I understand that I can digitize a book and make a copy, how come the publishing industry doesn't do this? If they get X requests for a book, hows about they digitize it and do a "print on demand"?

I give you, just for example, one of the Xerox DocuTech printing and publishing machines. Here are a couple of juicy details:

  • Prints up to 135 pages per minute at 600 dpi

  • Provides standard stitching and thermal binding finishing

  • Sounds to me like that could print out my "out of print" book in under two minutes.

    Don't love Xerox? Okay, how about an IBM InfoPrint? Same basic idea, different manufacturer.

    When I am Queen of the Universe*, every little hole-in-the-wall bookstore will have access to real live honest-to-gosh print on demand printing. If I come in and want a book that's "out of print", the bookstore owner will be able to order me up a copy, whether they print it right there in the back room, or have to "order out". The publisher will get their five cents. The author or copyright holder will get their five cents. The bookstore will get their five cents. And I will be able to toddle home with my OWN legal, paid-for copy, to sticky-note, and put bookmarks in, and keep for the rest of my life or the duration of my interest.

    * And I already have the promise of several votes based on my position that in the 21st century, there shall be no such item as an "out of print" book.

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    Anonymous Bethelia said...

    Oh, and I am *so* going to be your campaign manager!

    p.s. I talked to your sil today, she's coming to visit your blog soon!

    7:49 PM  
    Anonymous tarrilynn@hotmail.com said...

    Hear! Hear!

    9:16 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'll vote for you, if you guarantee me a copy of "Aran Knitting" for under $900.


    12:17 PM  
    Blogger Alwen said...

    You bet: when I am Queen of the Universe, paying $900 for an 80-page obscure book will be a thing of the past!

    10:07 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I completely agree with you. I have been trying to obtain a copy of the out-of-print book by that Bertha lady--Rake Knitting Patterns and haven't had one bit of luck.
    I don't understand with the technological advances that we have why can't we have a simple book printed.

    9:04 PM  

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