Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Print on Demand is moving forward

As a serious writer if you don't follow the articles in Publishers Weekly - well you should! You can sign up for their daily email newsletter at by selecting newsletters and then subscribe. You may have to register at the site as well.

So why do you want to do this? Well, there are some interesting news tidbits that come out of this electronic newsletter. The most recent is about Print on Demand or POD. Once a dirty word in the publishing industry it's now a hot new fad.

There was a time when the quality wasn't quite there but with technology that has changed. In fact, rumor has it that short runs are the same printing process as POD. Rumor further has it that most of the printing process for all publishers is actually shifting to the same type of printing technology, regardless of print run size.

What's the advanatage of POD? Well decades ago when printing costs per unit were based on large numbers of prints - essentially decreasing as the publishers printed more copies - it was actually cheaper to print 10-50,000 copies of a book and put it in a warehouse until it was sold. In fact, in order to justify the "make-ready" or setup costs of printing, a large minimum number had to be printed and then it was up to the sales force to get the books sold. This was primarily in the typesetting days of old.

With all the advances in technology and printing efficiencies the cost disparity between printing one book, short runs and larger runs is diminishing. There is still cost disparity between the size of smaller and much larger print runs but publishers now have more control over the number of books that get printed, don't sell, then are returned. The nubmers of returns on books that were expected to sell well and didn't is legendary and it's a horribly inefficient business model.

In my opinion a main reason for this eagerness to embrace POD is the increase demand for content at a faster, more I-want-it-now rate, and while the newer generations are hungry for online content there's still a desire for the printed format and always will be. Part of this is owed to the baby boomers and their aging eye sight but part is also because sometimes paper is just best. The good news is we have more choices now. The bad news is we have more choices now and it's sometimes hard to make up our minds about what we want so often we choose both.

More than ever you will be able to sort through content online and then decide which format you want it in and receive it, perhaps even putting your own book together from various pieces of content. It's both exciting and scary.

This latest article at Publisheres Weekly online (and in print) is just another indication that POD is here to stay.

Here's the link:

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