Independent booksellers invest in Troy print-on-demand company

by Michael DeMasi The Business Review


According to a blog post by Kandi Printing, two independent booksellers invested about $50,000 to start a digital, print-on-demand company in downtown Troy, N.Y., that will offer writers a low-cost way of getting books published.

The Troy Book Makers at 3 Third St. is a joint venture of The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland and The Bookloft in Great Barrington, Mass.

The print-on-demand company has published about 90 paperback titles, including family histories, memoirs, cookbooks, fiction and nonfiction, since opening about two years ago, said Melissa Batalin, business manager.

The Book House and The Bookloft relied on word-of-mouth promotion to let authors know about the service. Now they are actively publicizing the business.

“They wanted to test the waters and make sure everything is working out well,” Batalin said.

Eric Wilska, owner of The Bookloft, said he and Susan Novotny, owner of The Book House, opened the business to take advantage of digital technologies that are revolutionizing the way books are published and sold to consumers.

Those changes include downloading electronic copies of books onto devices such as the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle.

“If you don’t jump on this digital freight train it’s going to run you over,” Wilska said.

At The Troy Book Makers, writers can have as few as 10 copies of their book published for about $200 as long the work is in print-ready format. Other services, such as scanning photos and cover art, cost extra.

Larger print runs cost more. There is no maximum number that can be printed.


Other potential clients include corporations that need to print annual reports and churches that want to publish their history.

Similar print-on-demand publishing services are available through other companies. The Troy Book Makers is competitive on price and offers writers a local option to get their book published, Batalin said.

The Book House and The Bookloft also will sell the books published by the Troy Book Makers in their stores if the authors wish. Wilska said about 30 percent of the writers thus far have declined the option.

Of those titles that have been stocked on shelves, some sold better than others. None have been picked up by large publishing houses and printed for a wider audience.

“I can assure you we haven’t had a Stephen King so far,” Wilska said.

Nevertheless, the Troy Book Makers has attracted enough business that Wilska and Novotny are looking for more space.

They want to keep the company close to Novotny’s other store in downtown Troy, Market Block Books, at the corner of River and Third streets.

Besides book publishing, the digital printing equipment may be a precursor to the next generation of book selling, Wilska said.

He can envision the day when big publishing houses don’t bother printing copies of less-popular titles. Instead, they would zap a digital copy to a bookseller when the store receives a customer order. The book would then be printed on-site in about 20 minutes.

The technology is already available, he said, but publishing and houses must work out issues with quality control and author copyrights.


 See the article at The Business Review (Albany)