What did they do to my book?

At the bookstore on Saturday They were good eniough to let me dio a reading of my book. But the new boooks they ordered were … different.

Unlike all the ones I’ve gotten (and seen) before, they had no duist jackets – the cover with the picture was printed on. The paper stock was different, too. It was yellower.

Aha! I thought, a second printing! But no, the copyright page looked exactly the same.

Worse, as one reader pointed out, it looked as if a piece of paper had blocked off the print near one illustration, because it was just blank there, cutting off some of the text. I fact, the illustrations looked oddly different. Even the one on the cover. They looked like imperfect xerox copies of the originals.

Oh, and they were charging more for this.

What’s going on? I could see upping the price to cover storage or something if they were trying to get rid of the lazst few copies of the first printing, but these were obviously a new oprinting, even if they didn’t say so.

I know that there are changes in the publishing world. Is this some kind of print-on-demand edition? It would explain the differences in paper and binding. Maybe the difference in quality, too. But if that’s the case, they need to work on that a bit.

I can’t complain too much – the book’s still in print. But increasing the price isn’t going to make it easier to sell. Couldn’t they have put it in paper covers, or something?
I have to call and find out about this, but it’s still too early.

A pirated edition?

You jerk may be printing off copies, peddling them to bookstore, & paying you zip.

Buy a copy, & show it to your publisher.

Call your editor immediately and ask what’s up with those books. If it’s a new paperback edition, it sounds like they did a crap job and you have to call them on it. But it doesn’t even sound like a new edition. It sounds more like the bookstore owner made his own bootleg copies, or (less likely) the publisher just dashed off some crappy photocopies instead of sending the real thing.
No matter what the answer, it’s YOUR book. YOU have every right to know exactly what’s going on with it. And if someone is ripping you off by making their own copies, you ought to storm in there and raise holy hell.
Is this a traditional publisher? Or a self-publishing company that you paid to produce the books? That might help solve the mystery.

Sounds like a switch to print-on-demand to me, probably once the initial run has sold out; the only company I know for sure who do this are Chaosium (and they do a good job of it, others may not) but I assume other companies do the same. There may be a lightning flash symbol on the book to indicate this.

It does mean that the original print run has sold through, though!

This is a hardcover edition of a book by a major publisher. If they solf out the initial run, that’s great, but in that case I’d expect to see it on my statements, and I don’t. AFAIK, I still haven’t earned back my advance (which I blew on illustrations and permissions, instead of a week in the Caribbean).

(On the other hand, if someone is bootlegging copies, then I should be flattered that they think my book is worth stealing, right? Even if I don’t get money off it.)
I’ve tried calling the publisher, but no one’s in at the relevant posts, and no one’s returned my messages yet.

Something sounds seriously wrong here. A hardcover by a major publisher shows up as a photocopy at your signing?? Even if they sold through the first run, which would be great news, the usual response is to print more hardcovers or go to paperback right away. And if they did sell out the first run, you’d probably know because that’s very good news to pass on to the author.
Does your contract say anything about switching to print-on-demand after the initial copy run? I’ve never heard of that, and I reiterate that even if there is a legitimate explanation, you shouldn’t be blindsided by finding this version of your book instead of the hardcover.

If someone were bootlegging my books, I’d be flattered for about 30 seconds and then I’d be enraged. You work way too hard on a book to have somebody rip you off.

Print on demand does not necessarily mean a crappy copy; legitimate POD printers can put out a high-quality product, and major publishers make sure they do.

The vanity presses that use POD don’t bother, since the quality of the book doesn’t matter. Don’t use their POD books as a guide. Use the POD books by major publishers you see in bookstores – if you can tell any difference between them and the non-POD books (you probably can’t).

I would be very surprised if your publisher was involved in this. It does their reputation no good if the book is poor quality. It also costs sales.

Be sure your publisher knows about this – they will definitely want to know. If someone else has printed the book without permission, it’s a copyright violation.

Raise holy hell with your publisher–find out who did it and why and tell them they damn well better have a good excuse.

Got hold of someone, but they don’t seem to be the right someone. They said the quality, sadly, sounded like “print on demand” (I didn’t say the book was photocopied – I said the quality looked like that of a poor photocopy. On the Jacket – now cover – picture, for instance, there’s a gray “shadow” in what should be pristine white in a section right next to a dark background. ) OTOH, they said that they shouldn’t start doing Print on Demand until the printing run actuall ran out, which I can’t believe it has. The next guy on the list they referred me to isn’t in yet.

So your contract allows print-on-demand? I’m asking because it sounds like this caught you completely by surprise, which it shouldn’t if the contract spells out that they go to POD when the first run is exhausted. And if the contract doesn’t specify that, the publisher would have to justify printing your book in a format you didn’t authorize.
What’s your royalty on POD? Read that contract and report back!! :slight_smile:

I’m caught by surprise because I can’t believe they exhausted the original run, and also because the quality of this run is significantly lower than the original run (there shouldn’t oughtta be missing blank strips on the page where printing is supposed to be – that’s worse than the poorer copy of the photo reproductions)

Well, Amazon lists the book as having only 3 copies left (more on the way), so perhaps the first run did sell out. Both Amazon and Oxford University Press are selling it for $49.95, which is higher than I recall it being in its initial run. Other than that, neither site had anything useful that I could find.

And, for everyone’s amusement, here are the Statistically Improbable Phrases that Amazon identified for your book: “apotropaic device, protruding tongue, female rage, meteorite shower, variable stars, fourth magnitude, snaky hair, double cluster, rictus grin, straight sword, winged sandals”. Just to make it that much more interesting for anyone wanting to track the book down.

“Statistically Improbable Phrases”? That makes it sound like the interstellar drive from the Hitchiker’s Guide. I’ll have to try and make it weirder for the next book.
I have yet to get a definitive answer on this – it’s all “that’s not my department - try this guy’s number.” And then get the number of somebody who’s not in. But they seem to feel that the book did sell out its initial run. This is heartening (they sold out the entire print run of my book!) and disheartening (“they sold out my run and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”). I have to dig out the contract and crunch some numbers.