Limited run do run run?
February 2, 2008 7:10 PM   Subscribe

What connotations does 'limited run' regarding a book have?

I have a question for a publisher character I am writing. I want her to describe a book that will be published in North America only for the time being. As in, it will likely have a longer, global life in the future. Would it be accurate to use the term 'limited run' here, or does that always refer to numbers and not geography? Would term would be appropriate?
posted by typewriter to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
I think when the medium is something tangible like an album or a book, limited run usually means a set number that is made. The only time I ever hear it used to define an amount of time is when it refers to something such as a film being in the theatre for a "limited run" of two weeks.

I think there may be another term you are looking for such as "test run" or "advance run" or something...?
posted by cazoo at 7:25 PM on February 2, 2008

In my librarian-type experience limited run is pretty much for movies or maybe prints. Wikipedia says it refers to numbers and the geographical distinction isnt implied by it, to me. What you would be referring to is maybe a limited edition which connotes scarcity but still primarily in number but also exclusivity as this wikipedia article explains. What I would think of is a "private printing" which implies that there was a small run done by one printing house or publisher. There can be several of these. Leaves of Grass, for example, is an example of ow a book was published once in a super-short run (I did not know that Whitman typeset the first volume himself partly) and then can go on to have larger audiences when it's printed by bigger publishers.
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 PM on February 2, 2008

How about "North American serial," or "NAS" as they call it in the industry? *

* They don't really call it that but I think the phrase "North American serial" has the best combination of concise + comprehensible to express this concept
posted by moift at 8:14 PM on February 2, 2008

Just like films - "in limited release."
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:17 PM on February 2, 2008

Response by poster: Would you ever use 'limited release' in reference to a book?
posted by typewriter at 6:19 AM on February 3, 2008

You could refer to it as "The North American Rights", which would imply the publisher only had the right to publish it in America, but I'm not sure that conveys the whole idea you're trying to get across.

A limited edition to me (someone who sort of works with books, but not on the publishing end) is usually a special version where they only print X number of copies. For example, there was a signed, boxed limited edition of Michael Chabon's last novel.

I've never heard the phrase "Limited release" used with books.
posted by drezdn at 7:12 AM on February 3, 2008

Would you ever use 'limited release' in reference to a book?

No. You might say that something had a limited print run but again that's really numbers and not other sorts of limits.
posted by jessamyn at 7:29 AM on February 3, 2008

Response by poster: The fictional publisher in question has the worldwide rights, but is holding off for lots of reasons, but primarily because the book may be controversial in other parts of the world. The publisher thinks the book will actually sell well in North America, so it is less about the being a limited number.

'A North American run'? Does that sound reasonable out the mouth of an experienced publisher?

posted by typewriter at 8:01 AM on February 3, 2008

How about "initial run"? As in: "We're going to print an initial run of 4000 copies in North America and see from there" or "We're going to do an initial North American run of 4000 copies and hold off on International."

Disclaimer: I don't work in publishing. This is pop-culture speaking through my fingers.
posted by nobody at 8:14 AM on February 4, 2008

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