Making Book S1. Balanced Libraries

What the heck: Let’s look at some or all of the self-published books I’ve done, always using Lulu (and in some cases also using CreateSpace or Kindle Direct, both part of Amazon).

This book grew, indirectly, out of discussions surrounding and emanating from “Library 2.0″—the ideas, the movement (or set of initiatives) and the term itself.

I’m guessing that nearly all of you have read the first big essay coming out of my concerns about “Library 2.0″—through the end of 2012, it might have been downloaded or read more than 50,000 times. The big essay appeared as the Midwinter 2006 issue of Cites & Insights (I’m not linking to it because I’ve replaced the PDF and HTML with stubs suggesting that you buy Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader
and providing the new URL for the issue; I find it interesting that of the thousands of downloads/opens of the stubs since I made that change in 2011, no more than a couple of hundred people have downloaded or opened the new URLs—and fewer than 20 have purchased the modestly-priced book). Later that year, I shifted my own focus from “Library 2.0″ to balance. That shift eventually resulted in this book.

In some ways, this book is a sequel to Being Analog—but it wasn’t written as such. I viewed the book as an experiment in at least two ways:

  • Seeing whether self-published print-on-demand made sense in cases where I didn’t think the topic would ever reach close to 1,200 buyers (the level at which I believed professional library publishers would be interested)…that is, whether it would sell enough copies to make doing it worthwhile. (My initial target was 300 copies in two years as “success.”)
  • Responding to the claim that book publishing is too slow and cumbersome for books to be an effective part of the ongoing conversations about library change and social software. As I said at the time, “I’m not convinced that’s true.”

I tried to make the book conversational: I set up one post for each chapter, specifically to gather comments and feedback. That effort was pretty much a failure.

I was, of course, also experimenting with Lulu itself. Before trying this, I purchased a Lulu paperback (Atlanta Nights, a novel by “Travis Tea” that was put together by a bunch of science fiction authors as a test of PublishAmerica’s standards—while deliberately written to be unpublishable, I find it entertaining, and it certainly proved its point about vanity presses disguised as traditional publishers) to check out the production quality of Lulu books. It was excellent.

I either developed or refined a book template for Word, prepared the PDF, and chose one of my wife’s travel photos as the basis for a wraparound cover. I’ve been using her photos for many book covers ever since, most strikingly in the huge wraparound prints on Cites & Insights annual editions. I should have spent more time sharpening and cleaning up this particular photo, but it still works well.

The 247-page 6″ x 9″ paperback (also available as a PDF ebook) appeared in 2007. Later, I added a CreateSpace edition available on Amazon. It did not reach the 300-copy sales goal by the end of 2010. It did reach the 300-copy mark in late 2012. I’ve contemplated doing a second edition, but I haven’t contemplated it very much. It’s possibly worth noting that sales of that first book make up 45% of all sales of all of the self-published books I’ve done on Lulu, CreateSpace and Kindle Direct.

As with most C&I books (except those with ISBNs, where the publisher of legal record is either Lulu or CreateSpace), the nominal publisher is Cites & Insights Books, which does not exist. I haven’t included that in the bibliographic citations.

Crawford, Walt. Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change. 2007 (pbk).

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