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Print-on-demand (POD) is a digital 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. This scenario is typically referred to as Book-of-One (Bo1) print-on-demand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chapters one to three talk about traditional versus independent publishing, who owns your work, potential earnings, planning your book, planning your writing schedule, how to structure your book, choosing a title, using keywords for better SEO, what you need to include for publishing, how to find a publisher and submit your manuscript, and protecting your copyright.
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To read the full table of contents, visit the book page on Publisher.co.za by clicking the link below. Scroll down to the "look inside" feature.