A reader writes:
As an acquisitions editor at a dead-tree old-style publishing house, I find your publication plan for the View From Your Window book both commendable and very exciting. Much of my daily work involves trying to figure out what audience there is for a given book, how many copies we should print (i.e., reasonably expect to sell), and how high or low the price should be given that print run.
I need to keep in mind the expense of warehouse space for copies that don't sell, should I and my colleagues figure wrong. I need to leave room in the budget for a fair royalty for the author and even more room for profit for my company. And despite having done my job for over a decade, and despite all the sales figures and spreadsheets that are supposed to help our accuracy in making these sorts of determinations, I often end up guessing wrong--not severely wrong, necessarily, but in publishing even a little wrong can lead to a lot of waste. Some things in this industry are easily predicted, but not many of them, and seemingly fewer all the time.
Your way of doing business here, combining print-on-demand with this crowdsourcing model, is an invigorating one to see unfold. While it may not yet be as feasible for book projects that don't have a widely read blog behind them, I suspect that in the future, authors and publishers (self- and otherwise) will find other ways of making something like this work. They will have no other choice. I told a friend recently that within ten years I expect a computer will be able to do my job, but it might be more likely that I'll be replaced by other people. Thousands of them, millions even, deciding what they want to read and finding, and paying for, the channels that will deliver it to them.Best wishes and thanks for all the work you do.