This past Saturday I was at the public library doing some preliminary research for a longterm project I am about to undertake. I was taking notes from a regimental history published in the early years of the twentieth century. (Aside: Though many were indeed released by honest to goodness publishing houses, these tomes are the essence of vanity publications; read any one and you would swear that particular regiment saved the Union single-handedly and that its colonel was the bravest, most noble individual ever to put on his country’s uniform.) I was taking copious notes and decided that if I were to for on this project properly I would need my own copy. At about 7:00 pm that night I ordered it from Amazon. It was a print-on-demand title, offered in this case from BookPrep. It is a so called reading copy, a fresh printing of a rare book to be used for highlighting and writing in the margins. Sure enough, the book says on the back flap that it was printed on Saturday May 19. The next day, of course, was Sunday. Well, today is Tuesday and because of my Amazon Prime my book was waiting for me at the front door. So, I ordered the title late on Saturday; it was printed that day and shipped free via two day air. Here it is next to me on my desk as I write this. I tell the story not to flog the products and services of any organization, but to demonstrate how quickly things can be disseminated in today’s world. Incredible.
(image of rare books/F.O. Morris)