The Magic of Print On Demand (POD)

Monday, March 19, 2018

It’s hard to believe that Ingram Content Group's print-on-demand (POD) technology has been around for over 20 years. This technology was the brainchild of Ingram's then chairman and CEO, John Ingram, hoping to solve the problem of being out-of-stock of publisher’s deep backlist titles. In those days, publishers would deem titles out-of-stock 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.

Inexpensive Opportunity

One of the most important things to remember about print-on-demand 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 POD, 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. Traditional publishers are much better at predicting what they can sell of a given title since they've been in the book publishing business for quite some time now, but self-publishing authors frequently have no idea how many copies they'll realistically sell, especially if it's their first book, which ended up costing them greatly before POD. A surprise best-seller created almost as many headaches as a title that was a sales disappointment. Not having enough copies to meet demand is just as bad as having too many taking up space. With POD, predictive ordering and the cost of warehousing is removed from the book publishing equation.

Easily Make Updates to Existing Titles

Another thing about print on demand is that a title can be easily updated or corrected simply by making changes to the file and re-uploading those files into your IngramSpark account. Imagine that you get a great endorsement or book 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, or even worse, threw all of your unsold inventory out to start fresh. With POD, it’s as easy as editing the files for all of your books printed from that point forward to reflect the updates you've made.

Order Fulfillment with POD

Before print on demand, authors would pick a book out of their at-home stack when an order was placed, purchase envelopes or boxes, apply shipping labels, and take to UPS or the post office to send the book out to its end destination. This could get incredibly expensive when you factor the cost of shipping and supplies. With POD, your book is printed and shipped directly to its end destination from the print facility when ordered.

Print on Demand Options

Print on demand has come a long way since it was first created, adding a variety of color options, binding types, the ability to have jacketed or unjacketed books, and a wide array of trim sizes, but not all books lend themselves to POD because of special design elements or nonstandard trim sizes. Additionally, when a book really starts selling well, POD 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 POD and ebook distribution. Update content whenever you want, remove the burden of shipping your book to your readers, and perpetually make a title “available.”


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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.