What is print-on-demand (POD)?

Print-on-demand (POD) is a printing workflow process in which a book is not printed until an order for it has been received, and only the number of copies actually ordered are printed. So, if an order for just one book is received, only one book is printed.

Many distribution platforms, such as Amazon and IngramSpark, offer print-on-demand services. Book purchases made via online shopping are forwarded directly to the print manufacturer, who then prints and delivers the books ordered.

Large publishers sometimes use POD to reprint older titles that are out of print, or for marketing and book review purposes. Many universities and academic publishers use POD to maintain a large backlist.

More recently, print-on-demand has become very popular among independent publishers who do not have the budgets for large-volume printing and associated costs, such as warehousing, insurance, stock management and handling.

Print-on-demand is also suited to self-publishing authors who need to keep their capital outlay to a minimum. They can print small consignments of books at a time and replenish their stock as needed.

The benefits of print-on-demand

  • Low financial outlay
  • Little or no waste from unsold books
  • No warehousing, handling or inventory accounting costs
  • Books can be printed within a matter of hours on placement of order
  • Response to a book can be tested before huge investments are made in larger print runs
  • Revised versions of the book can be made very easily, as needed
  • There is a greater choice of books for consumers due to lower costs for publishers and self-publishing authors
  • Authors can now sell their books globally through retailers and distributors offering a print-on-demand service.

Are there any limitations with print-on-demand?

Many print-on-demand platforms offering a self-help service tend to allow only a limited range of formats, papers and binding options. Furthermore, certain finishing options have high setup costs, making them unsuitable for book-of-one printing. This makes POD better-suited to your more common book formats and genres. That’s not to say that you cannot print a customised book on a digital press – but digital presses do have their limitations and some projects are better suited to other printing processes, like offset printing or large-volume digital printing.

What kinds of books can one print?

Print-on-demand is best used for any book that requires only black printing inside and a full-colour cover with standard finishing. Books that work well for POD include: novels, self-help books, motivational books, business books, and so on.

Due to the high cost of colour printing, and depending on the book size and number of pages, it is not always financially viable for full-colour books unless you are happy to charge a hefty retail price to cover your printing costs and still make a profit. It is also not suitable for books requiring non-standard paper and finishing options, or large print runs. Having said this, digital technology is improving all the time and each passing year sees new, exciting advances, as well as improved cost-effectiveness over larger volumes.

Currently, if you are requiring a superior-quality product, print-on-demand may fall very short of this. Nothing can beat offset printing in terms of print quality and greater flexibility when it comes to finishing and binding.

Does Quickfox Publishing offer print-on-demand?

For international order fulfilment, we offer print-on-demand through our global distribution partners Amazon, IngramSpark and Gardners.

For local order fulfilment and author copies, we offer print-on-demand, as well as standard digital and offset (litho) printing. The benefits of standard digital and offset printing is that larger print volumes yield significantly lower unit costs per book, enabling our authors to make a lot more profit on the sale of each book. It also allows for enhanced customisation in terms of binding and finishing.

To find out more about the printing method best suited to your book and your options when it comes to binding and finishing, book a publishing consultation with one of our consultants. We will look at your project holistically and point you in the right direction.

Alternatively, purchase a copy of Publish Like A Pro and learn all about printing.

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