Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kirtas Books

Kirtas, the folks who make book scanners, has a new venture to sell print-on-demand copies of scanned books. The web site has a store full of public domain books.

Unlike Elibron, Kirtas is offering to sell books they haven't yet scanned. They have loaded the catalog of the University of Pennsylvania library and the New York Public Library into their database. These libraries have many desirable numismatic works that Kirtas claims to offer in reprint; for example the Photiadès Pacha auction catalog (1890), Imhoof-Blumer's 2 volume Kleinasiatische Münzen (1901), or the three-volume The Weber collection: Greek coins (1922-1929).

I ordered four volumes of BMC Greek published post-1900 that Google doesn't offer.

Kirtas claims to offer these books for $10 in paperback or $20 in hardcover. Download-only will be $2 once someone has paid for paperback or hardcover. I am curious to see if Kirtas can deliver quality and if they seriously intend to sell The Weber Collection (317 plates!) for $20 in hardcover.

To fund this Kirtas offers something I haven't seen before, a patent-pending business model they call “Invest in Knowledge”. For abour $30 you get the paperback plus a 5% royalty whenever anyone buys another copy of the title from Kirtas. So you'll break even if 20 copies sell. (Kirtas is suggesting you should buy this for your grandchildren (!?!) so they must think it will be a long-term money maker.)

I thought about “investing” in the BMC Greek volumes but I somehow doubt Kirtas will sell 20 more copies of these books. Maybe I will be kicking myself for the next century when Kirtas turns itself into the Wal-Mart of 19th century books.

It's not just books on Greek coins, I found the 1866-1869 American Journal of Numismatics also for $10.

If these prices aren't low enough the coupon code Save20%KirtasBooks gives $8 paperbacks and $16 hardcovers.

1 comment:

Ed Snible said...

A Kirtas production manager told me the BMC volumes I ordered will not be scanned. “I regret to inform you that none of the books you purchased were able to be digitized by our content partner (UPENN). All four books failed their preservation review; it was determined that they were too fragile to scan.

You have been refunded the entire purchase amount. I apologize for the inconvenience; please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.”