June 14, 2005 (Raleigh, N.C.) — An obscure physics book written by a retired professor is poised to emerge as a cult hit and an antidote to this summer's big Harry Potter novel — after topping a nationwide poll to find the new book LEAST likely to become a #1 bestseller and "hot beach read."
In the first poll of its kind, a book entitled Non Equilibrium Systems and Irreversible Processes: Adventures in Applied Topology (Vol. 3) out-pointed such rival volumes as How To Cook A Peacock (a translation of a medieval French cookbook), Ten Crochet Dude Dishcloths (featuring ten new dishcloth patterns from the Crochet Dude) and Creating Pastel Champions — A Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Model Horses with Pastels.
The survey of 1,200 Americans was conducted by Zogby on behalf of Lulu, a website that has become the world's fastest-growing producer of print-on-demand books by enabling individuals to publish their own books at no up-front cost and sell it on the Net.
"My books are very mathematical texts and if they sold several thousand copies I expect it would be a miracle," comments Robert Kiehn, a retired (emeritus) professor of physics at the University of Houston with over 55 years experience as a physics researcher and teacher, including at the famous Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Other titles to make the top ten list of unlikely beach-reads included The Gulf-Coast Shipbuilding-Cluster (Condensed from Gulf Coast 1-10 Research Directory) and The School of Hard Knocks: The Evolution of Pension Investing at Eastman Kodak.
Two of the nominated books — The PinBotz Guide to the Greatest Pinball Machines of the 80s and 90s and Seven Crochet Dude Afghan Squares — can nurture some lingering hope of becoming summer bestsellers, given that only 4% of respondents tapped each as the book with least chance of doing so.
"Almost 200,000 books are published in America each year," comments Bob Young, CEO of Lulu. "Only a few dozen stand a chance of becoming bestsellers. The ten books in this poll represent the other 99.99% of books.
"They are not blockbusters but 'nichebusters' — quality books targeting a niche rather than mass audience. They also happen to be the future of publishing."
The cost savings allowed by print-on-demand publishing, explains Young, mean that books can now be published for far narrower markets than traditional publishing could serve. Books, indeed, such as Non-Equilibrium Systems and How To Cook a Peacock.
The former is a 395-page, perfect-bound, black-and-white book, which sells for $19.95, mainly to university libraries across the world. It is part of a seven-volume series on the subject.
The movie rights are, at the time of writing, still available.
Young himself, meanwhile, is currently writing a book titled The Electric Golf-Cart Encylopedia, for eventual publication on Lulu. "If I finish it on time," he says, "I want to nominate it for next year's poll."
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About Lulu (www.lulu.com): Lulu is the world's fastest-growing producer of print-on-demand books — and a way for authors of all kinds to publish and sell their books. Founded by Bob Young, who previously co-founded Red Hat, the open source software company, Lulu provides independent publishers with free access to on-demand publishing tools for books, e-books, music, images and calendars.