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Independent bookstores embrace digital publishing

  • In this June 5, 2012, photo, a customer reads a book by the Espresso Book Machine, known as Opus, at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington. Self-publishing has been made easier since the machine by On Demand Books debuted in 2006. The machine also can makes copies of out-of-print editions. The first machine was installed briefly at the World Bank’s bookstore. Through a partnership with Xerox, the company now has machines in about 70 bookstores and libraries across the world including London; Tokyo; Amsterdam; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Melbourne, Australia; and Alexandria, Egypt. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Clare Dickens only wanted to share her story to help others. But in the process, she became a successful independent author — with the help of a local bookstore and its instant publishing machine.

Dickens wrote "A Dangerous Gift" with her son Titus, a memoir of their life dealing with his bipolar disorder. She completed the novel after he took his own life at the age of 25 in 2006.

Though Dickens found a publisher in Iceland to release the book in 2007, she still wanted a broader reach. The Espresso Book Machine at Politics and Prose in the District of Columbia allowed her to bring the memoir to local bookshelves and beyond earlier this year.

Her book has since become the best-selling, self-published title at the local bookstore and its website.

"I didn't expect to sell any at all," Dickens said. "I didn't want to be a best-seller. It's really about getting my son's story out there and helping other people."


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