What is Print on Demand? How Does Digital Publishing Affect the Industry?

Print on Demand vs. Traditinal printing
Old Fashioned Printing Press

Definition of Print on Demand

By Deborah S. Nelson, Author-Book Coach

Print on Demand is the biggest and boldest technological event of the twentieth century and therefore, has spurned the self-publishing era. But, just 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 using offset printing. This stunning, new development can be likened to the invention of the printing press itself.

Print on Demand–a Real 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. Notably, offset printing (printing press) requires exacting and difficult setup costs. Therefore, these costs are such that a print run of 20k or more is required by major publishing companies. Understandably, this is necessary for a large print run to set the book’s retail cost price to make the project profitable.

How Marketing & Selling Books is Changing Due to Print on Demand

Traditional publishing companies market books through bookstores, book signings, and traditional media. Because bookstores less popular now, traditional publishing companies’ sales are dwindling as well. When you consider that a majority of books are purchased online, the traditional way of distributing and selling books is becoming less common.

Self-Publishing Becomes Viable & Doable with Digital Publishing

Because traditional publishing houses need a sizable, upfront investment, submitting your manuscript for publication is a long process. Sadly, this involves making a copy and sending it to various publishing houses, and waiting for them to respond. And, since you could ethically send to only one publisher at a time, this made for a long and involved process.

Research of the Print on Demand Choices

Different publishing houses are oriented towards specializing in publishing different venues. Because of this, a certain amount of research 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. Then, once accepted, a contract would be signed and the author/publisher business partnership was formed. Today, with print-on-demand publishing and online booksellers a writer can become his or her own publisher. Also, a writer can 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 almost by default. This role is much like being the general contractor for building your own home. Therefore, you will be coordinating many processes to do 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.

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Selecting the Best Print on Demand or Self Publishing Company

A print-on-demand printer is a key service you need to select. Indeed, there are hundreds of print of demand printers from which to choose. To simplify, I recommend trying Amazon for paperback books with a four-color cover. Lightning Source is great for short-run and full-color books. In addition, for full-color books in small quantities, I recommend blurb.com.

Authors, Share Your Book with Millions of Readers Steps to Become Your Own Publisher Using Print on Demand to Print Your Books

The most basic step to becoming your own publisher starts with getting an account at Bowker books. Here, you will buy ISBN numbers at wholesale and list your publications in the yearly Books in Print Edition. Also, you may consider connecting with Baker and Taylor who distributes books, audio, and multimedia products to libraries and academic institutions, as well as other retail outlets. In addition, it is a great help to start accounts with E-lance.com and Freelancer.com. This will help you find outsourcing for publishing services. Finally, take a key step and create an account with CreateSpace, a print-on-demand company owned by Amazon Books.

RELATED ARTICLE: What are the Self-Publishing Costs to Publish a Book?

Publish your Book Blueprint by Deborah S Nelson

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