Print On Demand
While POD offers many significant benefits to publishers, it isn't perfect. For example:
* Per-unit production costs often are high.
* Some publishers face challenges getting POD books to retailers other than major chain stores.
* POD books are rarely found on bookstore shelves for consumers to buy on the spot.
* There still are production limitations, such as the inability of many POD printers to use color in the interior of POD books.
To echo an old printer's adage, "You have three options: good, fast, and cheap. Pick two."
For these reasons, it's safe to predict that POD is unlikely to become the preferred method for publishing bestsellers because of per-unit cost, delivery time and production limitations. POD simply isn't the best way to produce large numbers of books quickly and inexpensively. However, POD serves many other publishers needs at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. Stephanie Hall, a spokesperson for a leading POD service, Lightning Source (LSI), La Vergne, Tenn., says the technology allows publishers to:
* keep more books in print, including regional sellers;
* bring back out-of-print titles;
* test-market new titles;
* facilitate the market for foreign language publications in the United States;
* reach customers anywhere in the world; and
* avoid costly overstocks.
LSI's system also allows publishers to avoid warehousing expenses and inventory taxes, and make books available from more than 24,000 U.S. bookstores, plus more than 1,700 abroad. Further, POD printers are improving their systems every day, and already pose a serious challenge to conventional printing in many markets. To illustrate some ways in which POD printers are serving publishers better in several key areas, consider the following facts.
Problem: The per-unit cost of POD books generally is quite high, compared to conventional printing. For example, a 300 page 6x9-inch paperback with four-color cover can cost $3 to $6 to produce, using most current POD systems.