Today in the Times Higher Education (THE), Matthew Reisz reports on the growth of niche print on demand (POD) services offered by academic libraries and university presses in both the UK and the US. While the Google Book Settlement moves through its long and laborious negotiation process, a small handful of libraries have taken the initiative and are making an increasing number of books available via print on demand.
Probably the most well-known of these is University of Michigan’s growing Michigan Historical Reprint Series, which recently announced the availability of 400,000 additional titles. But the THE article also highlights similar developments at Cornell University Library and Cambridge University Press.
These developments surely deserve our congratulations. They have succeeded in generating a new revenue stream, which, as all librarians know, is easier said than done, especially in what is now a very risk-averse climate. Furthermore, any initiative that broadens availability of long tail publications has got to be a good thing. And lastly, whatever we think of the Google Book Settlement, a bit of healthy competition can only be a good thing for all parties.