Print on demand

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Print on demand or publish on demand (POD) is a publishing methodology in which a copy is not created until after an order is received. While POD may use any printing technology, such as linocut or Gutenberg letter press, digital printing is so often employed that the terms are often used interchangeably. To add to the confusion, Print on Demand is also a trademark of Cygnus Business Media, Inc. POD is often associated with self-publishing and vanity presses, but contrary to popular belief, POD is not exclusively a self-publishing business model: many traditional small presses have replaced their traditional printing equipment with POD equipment or contract their printing out to POD service providers, and many university presses and other academic publishers use POD services to maintain a large backlist.


[edit] Book publishing through POD

Print on demand with digital technology is used as a way of publishing books for a fixed cost per copy, irrespective of the size of the order. While the unit price of each physical book printed is higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are taken into account digital print on demand provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs than traditional printing methods.

While the unit cost of a book or print produced using POD is usually higher than one produced as part of a longer print run, POD does bring some key business benefits: 1) large inventories of the book or poster do not need to be kept in stock, 2) the technical set-up is usually quicker and less expensive than for traditional printing and 3) there is little or no waste from unsold products. These advantages reduce the risks associated with publishing books and prints and can lead to increased choice for consumers. However, the reduced risks can also mean that quality control is less rigorous than usual.

[edit] Other publishing through POD

Digital technology is ideally suited to publish small print runs of posters (often as a single copy) as and when they are needed. The introduction of UV-curable inks and media for large format inkjet printers has allowed artists, photographers and owners of image collections to take advantage of print on demand. The National Gallery, London installed a print on demand system using HP printers and technology in their shop in July 2003. The system increased the number of images available as prints from 60 to 2,500 (almost all of the gallery's permanent collection).

[edit] POD service providers

The invention of POD led directly to a new category of publisher that offers services directly to authors who wish to self-publish, usually for a fee. These services generally include printing a book each time one is ordered, handling royalties and getting listings in online bookstores. In comparison with self-publishing that uses print runs, this fee is likely to be less. Print-on-demand services offered by these providers generally do not include mastering, formatting, editing beyond running a spell checking program, or extensive publicity campaigns. Those POD service providers who do not charge authors a fee differ from small presses in the above ways and by having much lower quality standards for accepting books than traditional publishers.

As of 2006, print on demand book publishing is growing in popularity. In the consumer market, this growth is especially strong among first-time authors as an affordable and easy way to get a book into print with little or no editorial review. The leading POD book self-publishing service providers for the consumer market include BookSurge, iUniverse, Xlibris, Xulon Press, Lulu, AuthorHouse and Blurb.

[edit] Traditional publisher use

Print-on-demand services that offer printing and distributing services to publishing companies instead of directly to authors are also growing in popularity within the industry. The leading print-on-demand service providers for publishing companies are Lightning Source, a division of Ingram Book Group, a leading U.S. book wholesaler, and more recently BookSurge, an company.

Among traditional publishers, POD services are used to make sure that books remain available when one print run has sold out but another has not yet become available, to keep books in print after the yearly demand has dropped below the level where print runs would be profitable, and to print niche books that are never expected to sell many copies. Many of the smallest small presses, often called micro-presses because they have inconsequential profits,<ref name="micropresses"> Herman, Jeff (2006). Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, 2007: Who they are! What they want! How to win them over!: 17th Edition. Stockbridge, MA: Three Dog Press, 131. </ref> have become heavily reliant on POD technology and ebooks. This is either because they serve such a small market that print runs would be unprofitable or because they are too small to absorb much financial risk. There is also a gray area where it can be difficult to distinguish between the smallest micro-presses and those self-publishing POD service providers who do not charge their authors in order to publish.

[edit] Economics

Profits from print on demand publishing are on a per sale basis, and the amount of commission often varies depending on the route by which the item is sold. Highest profits are usually generated from sales direct from the print-on-demand service's website or by the author buying copies from the service at a discount, as the publisher, and then selling them personally. Lowest commission usually come from sales from "bricks and mortar" bookshops, with on-line bookstores falling somewhere in between.

Because the per-unit cost is typically greater with POD than with a print run of thousands of copies, it is common for POD books to be more expensive than similar books that come from print runs, especially if that book is produced exclusively with POD instead of using POD as a supplemental technology between print runs. Because one of the biggest advantages of the POD business model is saving on warehousing expenses and on unsold books, returning POD books can be problematic. There may not be a place for the copies to return to, and the publisher's budget might not have accounted for the expense of printing a book but not selling it. This means that publishers who rely heavily on POD are more likely to lack a return policy or to have a return policy that does not adhere to industry standards. This problem with returns can prejudice bookstores against POD books and lead to a lower number of total sales.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes


[edit] Bibliography

  • 2007 Writer's Market, Robert Lee Brewer & Joanna Masterson. (2006) ISBN 1-58297-427-6
  • Jeff Herman's Guide To Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents, 2007: Who they are! What they want! How to win them over!, Jeff Herman. (2006) ISBN 0-9772682-1-7
  • Print on Demand Book Publishing, Morris Rosenthal (2004) ISBN 0-9723801-3-2

[edit] External links

fr:Impression à la demande it:Book on demand no:Trykk på forespørsel fi:Digipaino zh:隨選列印

Print on demand

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