The Magic of Print On Demand (POD)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

by Robin Cutler
It’s hard to believe that Ingram Content Group's print on demand (POD) technology is approaching its 20th birthday. This technology was the brainchild of Ingram's chairman and CEO John Ingram, hoping to solve the problem of Ingram being out-of-stock (OS) on publisher’s deep backlist titles. In those days, publishers would deem titles OS if sales didn’t warrant a trip back to the printer. With demand from retailers and libraries going unfulfilled, Ingram thought there must be a better way.

One of the most important things to remember about this technology is that it gives every content provider with a printed book a way to inexpensively bring a book to market. This is no small thing. Before print on demand, a publisher had to predict sales, print and then warehouse the number of copies they thought 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 a complete disappointment. With print on demand, predictive ordering and the cost of warehousing becomes a problem that no longer exists. Oh, and let’s talk about fulfilling orders: packing heavy books into costly envelopes or boxes, applying shipping labels and taking to UPS or post office is expensive when you factor in the cost of shipping and supplies.

Another thing about print on demand is that a title can be easily updated or corrected simply by making changes to the source and re-uploading those files into your IngramSpark account. 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 (or heaven forbid in your dining room), you wouldn’t be able to make those changes until you sold through that inventory. With print on demand, it’s as easy as saying “abracadabra” and another problem is solved.

Granted, not all books lend themselves to print on demand because of the design or size. Additionally, when a book really starts selling well, print on demand might not be the most economical way to go. But, for most independent publishers, IngramSpark offers an ideal solution to test the demand of your book through print on demand and e-book distribution. Update content whenever you want, remove the burden of shipping your book to your readers, and perpetually make a title “available.”

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.