What is Print on Demand?

Definition of Print on Demand

By Deborah S. Nelson

Print on Demand vs. Traditinal printing

Old-Fashioned Printing Press

Print on Demand is the biggest technological event that has spurned the digital publishing era. What is digital publishing? It is the ability to publish a book or other printed materials quickly, easily and affordably using digital printing instead of the old-fashioned offset printing. This development can be likened to the invention of the printing press itself.

Print on Demand, a Game Changer

Instead of the upfront costs involved in printing 10,000-20,000 books at a time, with print on demand one book is printed affordably. Offset printing (printing press) requires exacting and difficult set up costs–so much so that a print run of 20k or more is required by major publishing companies, It is necessary for a large print run to set book’s retail cost price to make the project profitable.  Traditional publishing companies market books through bookstores and use book signings, and traditional media venues. Because book stores are going by the wayside, traditional publishing companies sales are dwindling as well. When you consider that the majority of books are now purchased online, the traditional network of producing, distributing and selling books is falling by the wayside.

Self-Publishing Becomes Viable

When the traditional publishing model required a large investment up front, submitting a manuscript for publication was a long process. This involved making a copy and sending it to the various publishing houses, and waiting for them to read and return it.  You could ethically send to only one publisher at a time. Different publishing houses are oriented towards specializing in publishing different venues, so a certain amount of reasearch was necessary to understand which publishers were most likely to accept what works. This process could take years before finally finding a publisher to accept a manuscript for publication. Once accepted, a contract would be signed and the author/publisher business partner ship was formed. Today, with print on demand publishing and online book sellers a writer can become his or her own publisher, and sell their book online, without  investing in a costly inventory of books. Purchased books are printed and shipped one at a time through online booksellers.

How to Become a Self-Publisher

If you are considering publishing your own book, you will become your own publisher by default. This is somewhat like being the general contractor of your own building your own home. You will be coordinating many processes which must be in chronological order. The three main processes include book cover design, images and illustrations, and interior design. Each of the phases involves 3 basic parts, and I write about this thoroughly in another article entitled Understanding Self-Publishing Services.  Selecting a print on demand printer will also be once of the services you will need to select. There are hundreds, probably even thousands of print of demand printers from which to choose. I recommend CreateSpace for paperback books and Lightening Source for short-run and full color books, and for full-color books in very small quantities, I recommend blurb.com. Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers Basic steps to becoming your own publisher include signing up for an account at Bowker books to buy ISBN numbers at wholesale and to list your publications in the yearly Books in Print Edition. You may also consider connecting with Baker and Taylor who distributes books, audio, and multimedia products to libraries and academic institutions, as well as other retail outlets. You will want to also start accounts with E-lance.com and Freelancer.com in order to find outsourcing for the self-publishing services you will want. And finally, it will be a key step to create an account with CreateSpace, a print on demand company which is owned by Amazon.com. ________________________________________________________________________________________________

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