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Agency launches POD plan as number of books published soars

31 March 2008

Won't anyone stick to what they're good at? The latest instance of everyone trying out everyone else's roles is big London literary agency PFDRepresents authors of fiction and non-fiction, children's writers, screenwriters, playwrights, documentary makers, technicians, presenters and public speakers throughout the world. Has 85 years of international experience in all media. PDF now have a POD section. Some good advice for those seeking a representative. setting up an agreement with print on demand printer Lightning Source to bring their authors' work back into print.

It's easy to see why this is an attractive idea, as plenty of good books are out of print and PFD have access to the rights, so they can present it as a service for authors. The only problem is that publishers and bookshops do perform a useful function, which can be summarised as getting books to readers, and that's a job that PFD don't have much experience of doing.

Kate Pool of the UK Society of Authors says: 'An agency sitting back and saying "you can find this book listed on a website" is very different to trying to find a publisher who'll take the titles on and bring them back into print.'

You'd have thought that PFD are in enough trouble already. Not only have nearly all of its agents departed to set up another agency, but most of their authors have gone with them. The backlist usually stays, as the rule is that under the terms of any contract negotiated through an agency payments continue to be made to the author through that agency. A new threat has just loomed though, as Evelyn Waugh's estate has been lost to PFD, after the Waugh family decided they were unhappy with the turmoil at the agency. The notorious American agent Andrew "the Jackal" Wylie made a successful lightning strike and the estate has decided to move all the Waugh titles to his agency.

But what of print on demand? It's flourishing, as many writers realise they can self-publish, and publishers finally get round to using it as a way of keeping their backlist in print. As a result the overall number of titles published in the UK soared last year to 118,602, up a whopping 36% on 2006, with backlist titles (published before 2007) also jumping by 28%.

Lightning Source is opening a new plant in Milton Keynes shortly, equipped with the latest new machines to cope with the increasing demand. Very soon they will be able to produce colour books in the UK, as they do already in the US, and that will transform many areas of publishing, especially children's books and the illustrated book market.

WritersPrintShop self-publishing service

Inside Publishing on Print on demand

Print on demand - and how it can make more money for you - an article by Morris Rosenthal in the WritersServices site.