August 8, 2005

On-demand publishing is cool. That is, if you find that sort of thing cool, or even remotely interesting

So I just found out about Lulu.com, which is a publishing website, primarily for books. Basically you can get distribution for a book you've written without having a publisher--they print and ship books on-demand (it's kind of like what mp3.com was for music, back when it was useful). What a great idea--you could also use it to publish magazines, journals, etc.

CustomFlix is sort of the same idea for DVDs, although you have to pay setup and maintenance fees there, and DVD-Rs are not the same as commercially replicated DVDs. I think this on-demand publishing system works better for books, because DVDs are very cheap to duplicate professionally, whereas books are not (a year or two ago I evaluated CustomFlix for a DVD project, and the site only made sense if you were going to sell less than about 250 DVDs. For my project, which never saw the light of day, that number was 0, so it didn't make sense).

The idea behind sites like Lulu, CustomFlix, and CafePress is to remove obstacles to getting a good idea distributed. I was going to use this to segue into saying the same thing about the so-called Digital Video revolution, but I feel like that's been said a thousand times before, and I should probably mention the whole DV-is-enabling thing in my "About this site" section anyway, which I still haven't written.

The other question, of course, is whether Lulu will just be inundated by bad writing and shoddy product, kind of like this website; of course it will. Now anyone with a computer can publish a book.

But that's the way it should be, and not just for books, but movies, music, etc. The more the obstacles are removed, the more the emphasis is placed on the one thing that should matter the most: luck. Damn! I meant to say talent.

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