3 Wonders of Print on Demand (POD)

Saturday, December 05, 2015

It has to be said that print-on-demand (POD) has changed the way the publishing industry does business. But before we talk about the wonders of POD let’s define what it is. In a nutshell it is the process by which a book is printed when an order for that book is received. With POD there’s no inventory being stored or anticipated demand being measured…get an order, print a book, one at a time.

POD really started some 20 years ago when John Ingram founded a company called Lightning Source®. The print quality of POD has improved to the point that it is virtually indistinguishable from a traditionally printed book. Publishers large and small use POD today as part of their overall business plan. They test demand of a new author or genre and then print traditionally if a title takes off allowing them to publish more. Publishers of academic or low demand content use POD for front list titles.

Wonder #1 – Reduces Publisher’s Financial Risk

POD reduces the publisher’s financial risk to bring a book to market. Before POD, a publisher had to predict the demand over time, print, warehouse and ship the number of copies they predicted could be sold with the result that they often got it wrong. A surprise best-seller created almost as many headaches as a title that was languishing in the warehouse.

Wonder #2 – Variety of Options

POD now includes the choice of hardcover, a wide variety of trim sizes constantly being expanded in addition to different options for color interiors. And when you tie POD in directly with distribution, customers get POD service bundled with e-book distribution to 39,000 retail and libraries. Ingram has continued to invest in POD technology and is considered today the global leader.

Wonder #3 – Edits on the Fly

Probably the best thing about POD is that a title can be easily updated or corrected. Imagine that you get a great endorsement or review or spot an embarrassing typo on the first page (it happens). If you had boxes of printed books stacked in your garage you wouldn’t be able to make those changes until you sold through that inventory. With POD, it’s as easy as saying “abracadabra” and another problem is solved.

With everything stated above, sometimes POD may not be the road to take. POD is a not a viable option for every book—those designed with fold outs, pop-ups, non-standard trim sizes and titles that sell in excess of 2000+ copies/year. But that figure is going up as the cost of POD is coming down. And when publishers factor in the expense of warehousing and fulfillment, POD just makes sense.

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IngramSpark Staff

Hi there! It's your friendly IngramSpark staff here, happily sharing a wealth of publishing knowledge with people from all walks of the self-publishing biz.