It seemed just like any other e-mail that I had received from customers in the past. This particular person wanted to order a larger than normal quantity of books and they needed to confirm some details about their purchase. I had actually been waiting to hear about this purchase for some time and was glad to be able to answer the questions. As I read the e-mail closely, however, I realized we had a problem. The books in question were needed for a conference in the Philippines and the customer had been working for quite a while raising the funds to buy 1000 copies. Unfortunately, when I got the e-mail, we had only four or five weeks before the conference was to take place and not enough time to ship the books in any economical way. It was time for an “only in CLC story” to unfold.
I quickly contacted our CLC team in Manila and asked if there was any chance that they could get these books printed locally for me and they said they would look into it. After some investigation, they found a printer who could work with us and we set about getting the files sent and paperwork signed. Within a few short weeks, these books were printed and delivered to the customer in the Philippines and the pastors were able to get the books at the conference and never knew about the heroics behind the scenes that made it possible. As we celebrated with our small publishing team here in the USA, I realized a very important truth that day – there are some things that small publishers can do pretty well. Flexibility and accommodating unique requests is becoming a part of our DNA.
Not long before this story took place, I had received another interesting request. One of our long time customers wanted a large number of a certain title for a special promotion. As we chatted, the requests and ideas kept coming. Could they have a special cover? Could they design the cover themselves? Could they have a new forward and back cover copy? Could they have their ministry logo on the book? By the time we had finished the conversation, it was clear that they wanted and needed a unique book and they were willing to invest time and resources to make that happen. Our team chatted about it and quickly concluded that we could make this work and a wonderful collaboration got started. After just a couple of months of working together the special edition of this book was completed and sent to the printer. All of this for what would have been a relatively small order for a larger publisher and most likely would have been denied.
Publishing is a challenging business and getting even more challenging as the customer landscape and the demands of the reading public keep changing at lightning speed. In the midst of this whirlwind of change the flexible small publisher has a wonderful and exciting future. Print-on-demand (POD) technology and the growth of e-books have positioned us to be able to do things that we could only have dreamed of in the past. No longer do we have to print several thousand copies of a book to make it viable economically. At the same time, our ability to make quick decisions and respond to author and customer needs in a matter of weeks, not months or years provides us some unique opportunities that we are just beginning to uncover.
As the publisher for CLC, I am only beginning to understand the power of our global ministry to expand the reach of our authors around the world. Just this week we answered a request for a customer in the USA for some Spanish language editions of a book that our team in Colombia did not have in stock. Normally we would have had to wait months to get these books if they decided to reprint them at all. Instead, we made a quick agreement with of sister team in Bogota and got the rights to the files for these books and are doing a small POD print run locally. We will be able to get these books in our customers hands just in time for their needed use. It is not uncommon for us today to acquire a new book from an author and ultimately see it published in multiple languages around the world. Our little publishing house is having an outsized impact for the glory of God.