16 Tips for Digital-Printing Success
“There’s nothing like a hot book to make things happen,” observes Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of New York-based publisher PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Book Group.
When Scott McClellan’s “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,” got consumers fired up last spring, Osnos responded by utilizing digital print-on-demand (POD) technology.
“With McClellan, we had 60,000 copies in print, which went to an order for 180,000 in 72 hours,” he recalls.
Working with John Ingram, chairman of the Ingram Content Companies, which includes digital-print services provider Lightning Source, Osnos arranged a solution that allowed PublicAffairs to meet demand for the title.
Here, Osnos provides eight tips for digital-printing success by recounting PublicAffairs’ experience with this overnight best-seller:
1. Use digital to fill the offset gap.
POD is ideal for meeting short-term demand for books that take off suddenly. We understood that, if we waited to fill all of those orders for “What Happened” with offset, we would miss sales. … So we reached an agreement [with Ingram] quickly to produce and distribute 7,500 copies of the book in hardcover. Books went from Lightning Source/Ingram to customers in 48 hours. We were able to meet the orders of smaller, independent booksellers, which typically would have had to wait. POD filled the gap while we also moved as fast as we could through traditional printing channels.
We went through the process again [in October] when George Soros’ book, “The New Paradigm for Financial Markets,” started to sell at significantly increased velocity. Lightning Source produced a hardcover version of the book, which allowed us to sell 2,000 copies in 48 hours.
2. Know when to pay the premium.
With a hot book, publishers should be willing to pay a premium. You are better off with a slightly lower margin than you are missing a sale and having no margin. Plus, filling gaps tends to promote sales momentum. I believe that “What Happened” would not have been No. 1 on The New York Times Best-Seller List without POD.