Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘OR Books’

“A publishing experiment survives and grows”: OR BOOKS is profiled in Publishers Weekly

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

Founded in 2009 by John Oakes and Colin Robinson, OR Books was designed to be a new kind of publisher. Its business model was based on bypassing bookstores, using print-on-demand technology (printing a book only when it has been purchased), and the web to sell its books and e-books directly to consumers.

Although the OR Books model “actually works,” Oakes said, both publishing veterans acknowledge that they have changed their minds about bookstores—especially independent retailers. “A general trade publisher needs independent bookstores; they are essential to our well-being,” Oakes said. Robinson agreed: “Selling direct gives us the ability to publish quickly and the margin is very good, but to reach a wide audience you need to be in stores too.” Bookstore sales now represent 20%–30% of OR Books’ total revenue, and they are growing, Oakes said. E-books, he added, are about a third of most titles’ sales—more for tech books and less for other categories.

Read the full article at Publishers Weekly. talks to COLIN ROBINSON about OR BOOKS‘ anti-Amazon model

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

“Our model of selling direct works best where we can identify communities that will be interested in a particular book we’re publishing,” says Robinson.

“Increasingly,” he continues, “as we build our customer database, we are transitioning from trying to find an audience for our books — which conventional publishers regard as their primary responsibility — to trying to find books for our audience, which, in my opinion, will be the approach of publishers in the future … the modern, forward-looking ones.”

Finding it “odd that publishers generally say their first obligation is to their authors, rather than their readers,” Robinson instead follows a consumer-first approach.

Read the full piece at

OR BOOKS praised for innovative use of Blumenthal emails

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Al Kamen writes:

The Hillary Rodham Clinton e-mails recently released by the State Department include some interesting exchanges between Clinton and her pal and informal adviser (and our former colleague here at The Washington Post) Sidney Blumenthal.

They don’t shed much light on what she knew and when she knew it and what she did about anything having to do with the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three others on Sept. 11, 2012.

But we’ve found someone who’s finally figured a way to make gainful use of at least one e-mail by turning it into a book promotion blurb for London journalist Patrick Coburn’s new offering: “The Jihadis Return.”

To read the rest of the article, visit The Washington Post.

In The New York Times, OR Books co-publisher JOHN OAKES weighs in on the ethics of publishing in China

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Censorship, which might be called “editing” in another context, has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. If small changes need to be made to a book to enable its release to a new audience, it seems to me — unless these alterations change the fundamental tenor of a book — publisher and author are well-advised to make them.

To read the rest of the piece, visit The New York Times.

“From Frankfurt: OR Books Preaches Elegant, Direct Model” in Publishing Perspectives

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Speaking at both Tools of Change and the International Digital Rights Symposium, John Oakes of the newly launched OR Books elucidated his business model. Compared to traditional publishing structures, its simplicity is quite revolutionary.

Read more in Publishing Perspectives.

Joe Woodward talks about working with OR Books, which will soon publish his literary biography of Nathanael West.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

News of my death has been greatly exaggerated (and captured, fed, and hyper-linked). I’m talking here about the new author in the era of new media, but too, about literary agents, editors, publishers, readers, librarians — People of the Book. Every day the headlines trumpet our demise. Every day another shovel of dirt hits the crowns of our caskets, and so on. I’m here to say, don’t believe it.

Read more on Huffington Post.

OR Books is the inaugural interview for O’Reilly’s TOC Evolvers Series

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

ToC:What does OR Books do? When were you established? How many employees do you have?

John Oakes: OR Books is driven by two concepts. Well, three. One: the current system of distribution and production, returns and discounts, in publishing doesn’t work for stores, authors, or publishers. Two: we will publish politically progressive and culturally adventurous work. Three: the classic rules of publishing still hold true: you need good editing, design, and marketing.

To address the first concept, we decided to scratch the Byzantine rules that surround the distribution and production of books: we sell straight to consumers, do intensive marketing, and then license the book to “traditional publishers.” We generally do not sell to wholesalers or booksellers, be they independent, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. We are “platform agnostic,” offering consumers their books as ebooks or in physical, printed form. They choose.

We started operations in the fall of 2009, and had a riproaring debut with GOING ROUGE: Sarah Palin, an American Nightmare. Since then, we’ve signed up a number of really exciting authors, including Norman Finkelstein, Doug Rushkoff, Chris Lehmann, Eileen Myles, Bill McKibben, Laura Flanders, Sue Coe and others.

We’re a total of four people, plus one intern.


Independent Publisher names OR Books an Indie Groundbreaking Publisher in IP feature

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

How did Robinson and co-founder John Oakes do it? By breaking all the rules of publishing, that’s how. OR Books is recognizing that the bookselling world has changed, and they are changing the way they do book business accordingly.

Utilizing print-on-demand technology and offering ebooks direct to the customer from their website allows them to opt out of an outdated distribution model. They are able to bypass the steep discounts that put publishers at a huge disadvantage, and avoid the return of unsold inventory — which can lead to pulped books — a complete waste of paper and energy used for shipping back and forth. This new system allows a rapid publishing turnaround and brings relevant books to the public and help them explore the issues of the day. And because Robinson and Oakes publish very selectively, they avoid adding to the glut of titles flooding the marketplace.

Read more at Independent Publisher

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