Carol J. Adams, who you might know as the author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, has published a post on her blog about Amazon's print-on-demand "service." I've received a few of their reproductions, and of those, a couple have really stuck out due to the cheap materials used, including the cover, the cover ink, the paper, and the binding (wait, what the hell else is there to a book [and I don't mean that in the Derrida 'question the oeuvre' kind of way--that's a topic for another post, perhaps]? Maybe the black ink isn't as glossy either...), and, of course, the barcode on the back page. Now, I'm not necessarily against print-on-demand, especially if it results in the handful of Routledge titles that I am interested in becoming affordable. But, as Adams, points out:
Apparently, it is common to have an agreement with publishers that they can produce copies of a book if it is out of stock. However, Amazon is apparently determining what being "out of stock" means in a very flexible, self-interested way. If they receive an order and they, Amazon, are out of stock of the book, they are producing their own rather than obtaining the book from the publisher's warehouse.
This sounds questionable at best, and as a published author, I would prefer that the copies of my book taking up space in Continuum's warehouses go first before anybody starts printing on demand, so that someday a more affordable paperback can replace the hardcover.