Amy Fisher's Book Tests New Publishing Model
It was a publisher's dream. Amy Fisher, the center of one of the largest media frenzies of the early '90s, had re-emerged in the media spotlight. After a decade of relative obscurity, the "Long Island Lolita," convicted of attempting to kill the wife of her older lover Joey Buttafuoco in August 1992, had served her seven-year sentence, started a family, become an award-winning journalist, and completed her first book, aptly titled "If I Knew Then …" The autobiography, which Fisher describes as "The truth behind the many sensationalized stories of who I was back then and some insight into who I am today," had again catapulted Fisher into the limelight, and publishers were taking notice.
The subject matter alone would have made most publishers salivate. But Fisher enjoyed the added clout of having secured a one-hour special on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," in addition to numerous other major TV and radio interviews, as well as the possibility of making the cover of People magazine, all to promote the new book. Demanding total editorial control and subsidiary rights, Fisher decided against going with traditional publishers and to instead take on the role of publisher herself, turning to iUniverse to pursue the self-publishing route.
Recognizing the strong potential to test a new production model for the publishing industry, iUniverse President Susan Driscoll and Kirby Best, CEO of Lightning Source Inc.—an on-demand print operation and subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc.—set out to determine how they could best produce and distribute the title by combining a mix of print-on-demand and traditional offset printing. The problem was that although the anticipated media attention ensured a lot of interest in the book, it did not necessarily guarantee record-shattering sales.
"It was a unique experiment," recalls Best. "We wanted to show that if you combined an offset and digital strategy, and added in some micro inventory, you could cut waste, boost returns and make the book profitable whether it was a big hit or not."