Print On Demand
Tomorrow's Solution: In the future, installation of on-demand printing systems directly in bookstores could allow retailers to fulfill consumers' orders in less than an hour. Early efforts at in-store installations, however, have been challenging. For example, a recent report noted that Sprout, a company that sells in-store printing systems, delayed its test with the college bookstore company Follett. The original agreement called for Sprout to install its POD machines in four Follett locations. Spokespeople for both Sprout and Follett did not say what specifically was causing the postponement. However, many industry observers believe a significant number of bookstores may someday begin to produce books on-site, increasing the speed of POD order-fulfillment considerably.
Problem: Production limitations pose problems for specialty markets. For example, leading POD printers don't yet offer color in book interiors, making it difficult for publishers to tap some lucrative markets, such as POD-printed children's books. Other POD printers offer interior color, but it's expensive.
Solution: Bill Clockel of Integrated Book Technology (IBT), Troy N.Y., says color, specifically for book cover and inserts, has improved in both quality and pricing. "It's now practical to use laser color technology and be competitive with color offset up to 500 copies," he notes. InstaBook offers four-color capability, notes Celerio.
The Publisher's Point of View
More and more small to mid-sized presses use POD to their advantage, especially when bringing back out-of-print titles and test marketing new releases—all with minimal financial risk. To illustrate, officials at Inside Advantage Publications, Naper-ville, Ill., recently released new editions of several previously published business books through Unlimited Publishing, Bloomington, Ind., a new POD publisher affiliated with both LSI and Replica, at a cost of less than $10,000 for seven titles.
Roger Fritz, president of Inside Advantage, recently told report-ers he evaluated publishing alternatives with an eye toward producing new editions of several previously successful books. His goals also include cutting production costs, and storage and returns expenses, and insuring availability from major bookstore chains worldwide. "The Unlimited Publishing business model directly addressed each of our priorities," said Fritz. The attractiveness of POD clearly is shown by the fact that LSI has printed more than 1.3 million POD books and established relationships with more than 700 publishers around the world. Other POD services such as Replica also report robust growth in their client bases.