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Tales from Opus
No sooner had we installed a print-on-demand machine last fall than a professor from American University came by the store to see it. She was working on a women’s history project and had been hunting for a particular 19th century women’s suffrage movement cookbook. Within minutes, our staff discovered that the book, long out of print, could be produced on our machine, and we were able to provide it for the professor.
The same thing happened to a gentleman looking for a specific 18th century edition of the great medieval narrative poem, Piers Plowman, also out of print. And ditto for a man in search of a book his father had written in 1919 called How to Build a 20-Foot Biplane Glider.
Parked in a prominent spot in our fiction room, the printing machine, which we’ve nicknamed Opus, has repeatedly excited and delighted customers in its ability to make high-quality paperback versions of out-of-print books from an ever-growing digital inventory of several million titles. But that’s not all Opus does.
The greatest demand for Opus has come from those interested in self-publishing. The list of more than 200 self-published works printed at Politics & Prose thus far includes poetry, politics, thrillers, memoirs, current events, doctoral dissertations, and quite a number of posthumous books brought in by the families and friends of authors who have passed away. One of our favorites is a set of novellas written by a class of seven students at Antietam Elementary School in Woodbridge, VA. Each student contributed a story, their teacher edited the pieces, and a mom in the class designed the covers for them.
Some of the authors published by Opus have chosen to sell their books on consignment, and we have a wall dedicated to their works. Among the most popular are:
A Life Interrupted by Ruth Levy Guyer, a writer and teacher specializing in bioethics, medicine, and environmental ethics. Her book is the story of Marjorie Day, who loses nearly two decades of her life to a mysterious illness and then, against all odds, recovers. One reader has called the book “a rare medical detective story told by an expert.”
A Dangerous Gift: A Mother and Son’s Battle With Bipolar Disorder by Clare Dickens, a touching and tragic story, told in the voices of Dickens and her son, about the son’s valiant effort to deal with his illness. An honest, brave, and highly instructive book.
Virginian poet John P. Saul has selected poems from his lifetime of work in a collection called Candle in the Window. A former Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post, Dusko Doder draws on his extensive knowledge of Russia in crafting a Cold War spy thriller, The Firebird Affair. And Fox Deatry, who reports for Al-Jazeera, delivers in American Witches, what one of our staff has called a cross between Harry Potter and Sex in the City.
Come see these and other offerings. And please consult our expert team of Opus managers, Bill Leggett and David Maritz, about how to find a copy of some out-of-print book or produce copies of your own.
- Brad and Lissa