Plunging Through Time To Rescue Out Of Print Sci-Fi Books

from the to-infinity-and-beyond dept

From time to time, we talk about the issue of orphaned works and how these out of print books are doing nobody any good. The public loses out as they are out of print and very often can't be found. The authors or owners of the copyright lose out because no one is buying them any more. Often times, the person who owns the copyright has no idea they own it. There is a definite need to help all parties involved in this murky area by bringing these works back to life. That is what one recently opened book store, Singularity & Co., plans to do.

Via BoingBoing, we learn that this store plans to rescue one out of print sci-fi book each month by seeking out the owner of the copyright and purchasing the rights to publish the ebook.
We love books. A lot. And we love sci-fi books, new and old. But mostly old. And there are a lot of great old sci-fi books out there that are out of print, out of circulation, and, worst of all, not available in any sort of digital format. Given the subject material, that’s just not right. So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to open a bookshop, both online and in real life, in Brooklyn, NY where we live and work. It doesn’t have to make much money. It doesn’t have to make any money at all, since our day jobs cover our rent.

But what it will do is let us choose one great out of print work or classic and/or obscure sci-fi a month, track down the people that hold the copyright (if they are still around), and publish that work online and on all the major digital book platforms for little or no cost. Every month on this website visitors will get to vote on the next great but not so well remembered work we will rescue from the obscurity of the past.
This is certainly a huge undertaking, especially if the community votes to revive a work that has a really tough to find copyright holder. But as they succeed in bringing these books back from obscurity, they will achieve success, not just in this endeavor, but also as a book store. We have mentioned before that if brick and mortar book stores want to compete in the modern age, they have to think outside the box. This particular effort may not succeed (though we hope it will), but these kinds of experiments keep happening, and inevitably will lead to interesting new success stories.

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  1. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 14 Aug 2012 @ 9:19am

    Re: Another Paywall, another great idea.

    Although I will add that I'm confused about how this will help any brick and mortar store survive. They're just becoming publishers and that is independent from running a book store.


    Why is having a physical store a meaningful distinction?

    They are a bookseller. Being a physical store is an aspect of being a bookseller, but not the core definition. If they went entirely electronic and no longer had a storefront at all, but still met their customer's needs, they'll survive just fine.

    I'm not sure why this point confuses you.

    Besides, they're talking about doing this for a dozen books a year. They is certainly an infinitesimal percentage of their total stock even if they keep it up for many, many years.

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