Monday, October 17, 2005
SBL and Print on Demand (and the long tail) ::

Bob Buller, tactful and polite as always reminds me that SBL is dedicated to keeping that long tail of work available through print on demand. (I apologise for forgetting/not having really noticed, and then shooting my mouth off again! And "reprint" below his email so that any reader who might be wishing they could use an out of print work with a class is aware of the possibilities. I've been an SBL member - with a short break while I changed continents - since the early 80s, and I am often proud of how the society opperates, this is such an occasion.)

Here is Bob's mail:

Hi Tim,

The press of work has kept me from continuing our discussion re copyright, but my brain hasn't stopped reflecting on it. I hope to collect further thoughts (or at least questions) at some point in the not-too-distant future.

I'm writing this morning re your post on the cost of books and the strategy of using POD to keep reasonably priced backlist books in print. I agree with nearly everything you write. In fact, the SBL is committed to using POD as extensively as possible in order to operate efficiently and thus keep our prices as low as they can be. Currently we have approximately 125 backlist titles that have been moved to POD. Some of these titles were out of print but have become available again via POD; others would have gone out of print in former days but will remain in print (in perpetuity) through the use of POD. We are also expanding our efforts in this area: over time, the majority of SBL or Scholars Press books that have long been out of print will be available once again via POD. For example, attendees at the SBL Annual Meeting will be able to purchase (at reasonable prices!) five new reprints from SBLMS:

1. David M. Hay, Glory at the Right Hand: Psalm 110 in Early Christianity, SBLMS 18, $19.95
2. Patrick D. Miller Jr., Sin and Judgment in the Prophets: A Stylistic and Theological Analysis, SBLMS 27, $15.95
3. Jack T. Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, SBLMS 28, $15.95
4. David L. Petersen, Late Israelite Prophecy: Studies in Deutero-Prophetic Literature and in Chronicles, SBLMS 23, $14.95
5. Charles H. Talbert, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes and the Genre of Luke-Acts, SBLMS 20, $17.95

This is but the tip of the iceberg. We have many more OP titles in process and plan to work systematically through each series so that, as much as possible, our entire backlist of classic and important works is once again available.

Further, we recently signed an agreement with Brill giving us the right to publish paperback editions of ten Brill titles each year. If all goes as hoped, we will have the following available at the Annual Meeting (or at least shortly thereafter):

1. Albert I. Baumgarten, The Flourishing of Jewish Sects in the Maccabean Era: An Interpretation, JSJSup, $29.95
2. Peder Borgen, Philo of Alexandria, An Exegete for His Time, NovTSup, $35.95
3. Louis H. Feldman, Studies in Josephus' Rewritten Bible, JSJSup, $49.95
4. John T. Fitzgerald, Thomas H. Olbricht, and L. Michael White, eds., Early Christianity and Classical Culture: Comparative Studies in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe, NovTSup, $49.95
5. Alison Lo, Job 28 as Rhetoric: An Analysis of Job 28 in the Context of Job 22-31, VTSup, $29.95
6. Johannes C. de Moor, ed., The Elusive Prophet, OtSt, $27.95
7. Gregory E. Sterling, Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts and Apologetic Historiography, NovTSup, $49.95

Finally, we are also expanding our efforts to include titles not published by SBL (or Brill). That is, we are interested in reprinting classic, important, or useful works originally published by someone other than the SBL and now out of print. We have just begun to solicit reprint requests and invite anyone to make recommendations to us ( Is there an out-of-print title you would like to use as a classroom text? Tell us. Perhaps readers know of impportant monographs or resources that need to be available once again. If so, let us know. Of course, reprinting titles not originally published by the SBL involves rights issues, but in most cases these can be resolved without too much difficulty.

In sum, the SBL agrees with your perspective on using POD to keep titles available at a reasonable price. A good deal of work lies before us, but we are committed to doing all that we can to make use of this important new technology in the service of the guild.

PS, if like me you've forgotten this the SBL catalogue is available (as PDF) from this page

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