Giving New Life to Out-of-Print Books Through Controlled Digital Lending

Dean Bartoli Smith’s book of poetry about growing up in Baltimore came out in 2000. American Boy was long past its sales life until it was resurrected by being digitized by the Internet Archive and made available through one-at-a-time digital lending (a model known as Controlled Digital Lending).

Dean Bartoli Smith, Poet and Director, Duke University Press

“It’s uniquely personal to me because some of the poems deal with my parents’ divorce at the age of seven,” says Smith of the 68-page collection of poems. “My mother became a family law attorney and would give my book to clients who were dealing with custody situations. She passed away in January and as a tribute to her, I wanted there to be free access to that book.”

The poems reflect Smith’s journey to adulthood and issues of the day, such as Vietnam and the plight of Native Americans. It is geared for readers 10 and up. Initially, about 1,000 copies were printed by Washington Writers Publishing House and now the book is available by print on demand.

“I think there is a big need to be able to provide access to these books that are out of print,” said Smith, who is director of the Duke University Press and a 1989 graduate of the Masters of Fine Arts program at Columbia University, “I didn’t go about writing as a way to make a living. Poets are writing poetry to make sense of the world and to share. If someone can benefit from something that I’ve written, then all the more power.”

Smith also wrote Never Easy, Never Pretty: A Fan, A City, A Championship Season, a nonfiction trade book about the Baltimore Ravens 2012 Super Bowl season published by Temple University Press in 2013. Each chapter starts with a line of poetry about football from an established poet. While still in print, Smith said he may eventually explore having that title digitized by the Internet Archive.

10 thoughts on “Giving New Life to Out-of-Print Books Through Controlled Digital Lending

  1. Andrew Midkiff

    Because of The Internet Archive I have been able to do research on obscure topics far from the collections where these rare works are located. There’s no way I could do this research without you.

    Most are old, unusual works, and some have been newer scholarly works out of print, but available through CDL. An amazing resource.

    1. Lila Bailey Post author

      This is great Andrew, thank you for sharing! If you would be interested in talking more about your experience and how our digitized books have helped you please reach out to me. I’d love to hear more about your work, how you have used our digital books and how we can improve our services in the future. lila at archive dot org.

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