Despite many small presses folding, and larger presses merging, the Ann Arbor District Library is launching a low-risk model for local authors. Fifth Avenue Press will debut a slate of nine books in early November in a model where the library covers all design, editing and e-book costs while allowing authors to earn all profits from whatever sells either electronically, or in print. Authors will pay any printing costs for hard copies, but on-demand printing sites only require payment for books that sell, minimizing the financial risk.
“We’re inspired by some projects other libraries have done,” says Eli Neiburger, AADL Deputy Director. “Fifth Avenue Press will offer an alternative to commercial publishing while supporting writers in our community.”
All nine local authors will attend the joint book release at the downtown AADL and offer either a short reading or a quick talk about their book.
Experimenting with a new model
The initial releases represent two years of development for Fifth Avenue Press.
“We wanted to make sure the books were electronic and that the writer would retain all the rights (to the work),” said Josie Parker, AADL’s Executive Director, “so we came up with a different publishing model. It was important that there’s an E-book, always available at the library, but we didn’t want to hurt sales – that’s a book for the writer. That’s always been the tug of war between publishers and libraries, about how much we buy and how do we circulate it.”
While the books will initially publish as E-books on the AADL database, authors will have the opportunity to work with outside publishers during post-production, which AADL will allow to remain strictly the author’s decision.
“We turn the manuscript into a print-ready file,” Neiberger explains, “ then it’s up to the author to decide if they want to invest and have their books printed. The library isn’t involved in the commercialization of the work once it’s produced,” adding that the toughest part of the process to date has been rejecting submissions.
“One thing that’s challenging, that libraries don’t have to do very often, is say ‘no thank you,’” he admits. “But, like choosing books for the AADL collection, we’re going to choose books that people will be interested in.”
Fifth Avenue Press Inaugural Book Release Reception
3rd floor, Downtown AADL, 343 S. Fifth Avenue, Ann Arbor
Sunday, November 5th, 1-3pm
For more info about the event or Fifth Avenue Press, visit AADL.org
Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.