05 July 2012

Walt Crawford, The Librarian’s Guide to MicroPublishing. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2012.

Crawford defines micropublishing as using print on demand services to produce copies of a book as required for a niche market. This definition is too narrow; micropublishing is ANY content creation, print or online, for a niche market—publishing, being the act of making public, is not limited to any particular format. What Crawford means to suggest is that libraries can and should be involved in community content creation, because libraries are their community information centers, and can inexpensively utilize print on demand processes to assist interested authors.

What Crawford give us is a how-to manual for producing a polished physical manuscript—the content development process is out of scope here. He provides templates for laying out a manuscript, step-by-step instructions for making the text look good, and details for navigating the interaction with a print on demand vendor. The goal is to enable anyone to create a good-looking physical book, using only common software. Crawford assumes access to MS Word and the internet; with only this basic equipment, anyone should be able to follow the steps he lays out and, without too much difficulty, have a reasonably-priced object for sale.

While Crawford sees this as most applicable for public libraries, where writing groups and local history or genealogy students may produce content of interest to a small or local audience, his methods are equally useful for a self-publishing fiction author or even an open-access academic imprint that wants to make an archival copy available. This book’s value, though, comes from its detailed layout instruction; readers are encouraged to apply these skills to their own imaginative ends. After all, the goal of micropublishing is to produce a high-quality content carrier, cheaply. Crawford shows us how to do exactly that in this book.


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