One of the things I really want to do on this blog is exchange ideas about publishing. Specifically about getting more of Philip José Farmer's material back into print. Or into some other form of distribution. But, please understand that any ideas we may come up with have to of course be approved of by Phil and his wife Bette, and Phil's agent.
Several years ago some other collectors and I proposed to print a collection of Phil's rarities. Our idea, after discovering just how expensive it would be to actually print the book, was to use print on demand (POD) as means of producing the book. Phil's agent shot it down for a couple of reasons:
1. POD was new (at the time) and no one knew if these companies would actually pay and/or still be in business in 6 months.
2. While new authors might be trying POD, someone of Phil's stature shouldn't do this. If he did, traditional publishers would be less likely to reprint his books.
At the time the first objection may have been valid. POD was new and no one knew if the companies would pay or stay in business. Today, sites like lulu.com seem pretty stable. The fact that amazon is trying to corner the POD market, also seems like POD is going to be around for a while.
While there may still be a stigma attached to POD, does it really matter if Inside Outside, Tongues of the Moon, Dare, The Stone God Awakens, The Wind Whales of Ishmael and Ironcastle, which haven't been reprinted (in English anyway) since the late 70s or early 80s, are available this way? I mean it's not like any major publishers are clamoring to reprint these titles. And would these titles coming out via POD really affect the resaleability of the Riverworld series to a big publishing house?
I've also long wondered if maybe converting Phil's books to e-books wouldn't be the way to go. But since I hate reading more than several thousand words at a time on a computer screen, I haven't really pursued this idea much.
Another idea I had was to allow people to choose short stories they wanted in a collection, then make that custom book just for them. A lot like the idea you'll find here at Anthology Builder. Of course it would cost me a lot more to produce these single books than how they seem to be able to do it.
Here are some questions for you, dear reader:
If, via POD or some other method, I was able to reprint something like The Stone God Awakens, what would cause you to buy it? Since the book has only been out in paperback, would you only buy it if it was a trade paperback or a hardcover? (Perhaps that could be the angle, hardcover versions of books only available in paperback before. But, that means I'm selling an expensive product, $30 or more for a book you can buy used for $1; if you just want to read it.)
Would new cover art be enough for you to buy the book, whether in mass market or trade paperback?
Or would it take some new material to get your interest, like an introduction by a Big Name Author?
What about the other ideas? Do either e-books or custom books interest you?
Even more importantly, do you have any other ideas about getting Phil's work back in print? I'd really like to do something after Farmerphile finishes its run, but I just don't see what form that next project will take. Maybe you will be the one to come up with the next great idea.