What is a pre-book?


A pre-book is the cheap printout of a book, just sheets of paper which can be put into a binder.

There are several reasons to opt for pre-books:

  • A pre-book doesn’t have to be handled with care, and no one will wrinkle their nose if notes are added to the pages or if a paragraph is cut out.

  • A pre-book is also for undecided readers who want to find out first whether they like the book well enough for some re-reads.

  • Pre-books give more people access to stories, thanks to the lower costs. And this is also interesting for school texts and university publications.

  • It is easier to recycle printouts than books.

  • Resources are saved because less energy is needed for a pre-book than for a complete book, and neither colours, covers or binding materials are used.

  • Pre-books could give binders a great revival. When editing, I work with handmade binders made by Fairklemmt. And I love it.

  • Using pre-books could substantially reduce the number of books printed while potentially increasing the number of stories sold.

Alternatively someone could read the e-book or listen to the audiobook. In all cases the reader can decide afterwards whether the story is worth it to get it as a printed book.

To make sure that the printouts are cheap, it is probably best to develop a simple black and white, plastic-free printer with a refillable ink container. This pre-books printer could be used at any book station, book workshop or bookshop.

The reader could get a voucher for using pre-books and for returning the paper to a book station. And whenever the reader buys a printed book, they can use the credits they collected.

Also, a reader might decide not to keep a story, but would still like to support the author with a donation, which should be simple via a website or a QR code.

Someone could argue that some books are already offered in cheap editions. But those copies are not about getting paper back into the recycling bin. Nor do these copies ask whether or not you would like to buy this story as a printed book next.


next: Bespoke books