Over the last year I've noted a dramatic increase in the number of POD publishers advertising their wares on Amazon, ABE, Alibris and other venues. What drew my attention was the nature of the titles offered, which was incredibly expansive. So much so that I wondered how any one POD publisher could manage to pull it all together. Imaging an old books takes time and money. So how could a publisher offer thousands of obscure titles within such a short period of time?
I've bought a few examples of POD publications of classic and not-so-classic titles for comparison to both what I have on my shelves and to Google and Internet Archive downloads. The results have been what I expected. Straight to POD booklegs (my bootleg of the term "bootleg") of existing free documents. Ok, so these are free documents to begin with. Buyer beware and all that. What irks me is that the various book selling venues are allowing this to happen. I emailed one online service that specializes in out of print books and received a very polite, canned response that they appreciate the interest and are happy to consider all recommendations that could improve their service. Blah Blah Blah.
Let's take a fictional company that is based on a real-life booklegger. I'll call the company the Henry K. Publishing Company. Based in a nice northern mid-west state, possessing of a website and listing on Amazon, Abe and Alibris. Oops, no real contact information for this company exists. The closest you can come to contact is looking up the information on that states' government website. At least there's now a mailing address and an email. Let's order one book.