University of Michigan to Reissue Rare Books Through Amazon

Adrian Versteegh

On the heels of a similar project launched by Cambridge University Press, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, last week announced plans to make rare and out-of-copyright books from its library system available through BookSurge, Amazon’s print-on-demand division. The program’s initial offering encompasses more than four hundred thousand titles in languages ranging from Acoli to Zulu.

The BookSurge deal “means that titles that have been generally unavailable for a century or more will be able to go back into print, one copy at a time,” said Paul N. Courant, University of Michigan librarian and dean of libraries, in a statement last Tuesday. “The agreement enables us to increase access to public domain books and other publications that have been digitized.”

Titles available for reissue include works digitized through the university’s ongoing book-scanning partnership with Google, as well as books digitized by the library on its own. Revenue from the project will be shared between BookSurge and the University of Michigan, with the school controlling list prices. According to the press release, the cost of each paperback reissue will depend on its length, and prices are expected to range from “a few dollars” to about forty-five dollars.