Esther Schindler Esther Schindler

Historically, an unpublished fiction author packages his manuscript in a cardboard box, mails it to one or more book publishers, and waits (and waits and waits) anxiously for a reply. The response is typically months away. Publishers can take nine to 12 months before they finish the process of reviewing a manuscript, giving copies to the poor saps who read the slush pile submissions, and usually sending a polite rejection letter. That's all done with paper, even now. But a few forward-thinking publishers are starting to modernize that process, visualizing the electronic slush pile as the tip of the electronic workflow. Science fiction publisher Baen Books, Bronx,

Books-on-demand (BOD) systems have long promised a more convenient, responsive, and cost-effective way to get titles to readers, especially when dealing with short-runs or backlists. Now one BOD system manufacturer, Powis Parker Inc., is saying its thermal binding technology is more productive, too. Powis Parker pitted its recently upgraded Fastback 15 binding system against Ibico's Ibimatic. In an in-house test, Powis Parker officials say their thermal binding equipment performed five-times faster than Ibico's punch-and-bind system for meeting perfect binding requirements. "As books get larger, it takes longer to bind them, and thus it costs more," says Kevin Parker, president of Powis Parker, in Berkeley, Calif. "For a

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