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Re: Print-on-Demand from university presses

Just an update for your benefit: generally, university press books never go "out of print" now because of the use of POD vendors like Lightning Source. Essentially, monographs now go through this life cycle: 1) initial cloth printing (either offset of digital); 2) paperback (done digitally in what we call SRDP, i.e., "short-run digital printing," which usually means anywhere from 50-300 copies); and 3) once annual sales fall below a threshold (which may vary by publisher, but probably is somewhere between 25 and 50 copies), the book goes "pure POD" with vendors like LS, where copies are produced one at a time.

As for OA for monographs, a number of experiments are under way, building on and modifying the model pioneered by the National Academies Press for its science monographs. We have one such series of our own in Romance Studies. I invite you to inspect the site: <http://www.romancestudies.psu.edu>. Books in this series are generally not subsidized, so need to generate an income stream to recover costs. The online browsing capability allows customers to do "product sampling," as Joe Esposito calls it, before deciding whether to click on the "buy this book" button, which takes an order directly to Lightning Source for drop-shipment fulfillment, usually in 48 hours. The entire world, of course, has access to the scholarship online at no charge. Whether this model will succeed and prove sustainable, of course, is the big question.

Sanford G. Thatcher, Director
Penn State University Press
University Park, PA 16802-1003
e-mail: sgt3@psu.edu