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What is Print On Demand?

“Print on Demand”, also known as “PoD”, is a new digital printing service. Its definition is literally printing a book one at a time, literally ‘on demand’ – as opposed to “batch printing”, where books are printed a few thousand at a time. The book is set up as a digital file, and when an order comes through on the computer system, the right file is selected by the computer and gives the instruction to produce a copy of the book. The process allows as few or as many books to be printed at any given time, and is now a widely used printing technology – publishers are slowly beginning to use the service on a larger scale.

The quality of Print On Demand books have been questioned by many authors and publishers, but over the past few years there has been a massive rise in the types of technology that deal with PoD books and the quality has also seen a rise as a result. There is still a feeling in some circles that the PoD books are poorer in quality, but this is no longer the case. The latest PoD machines, such as those produced by Hewlett-Packard and other established companies, are controlled completely by computer; and the bigger, professional PoD printers can produce up to four books a minute. Many Print On Demand services are open for use 24 hours, 7 days a week also, which cuts limitations on when printing can start and stop.

There are many advantages of the Print on Demand service, in many cases the advantages outweighing the disadvantages. One major advantage is that authors do not have to publish batches of their books, gambling in hope that their books will be a bestseller. If their book is a hit, more can be produced at the rate that they are selling – on the other hand, if the book is not as popular as first thought, production is easily stopped as it is started. Another advantage of this method is that due to the on-demand nature, storage is not an issue and books can go straight to bookshops, without taking up room (and may be even extra costs) to store the extra books. A third advantage is that the author does not have to collect the money from the supply chain for the copies that are sold, thus again saving a lot of money.

However, there are other factors that the author must consider. The author often has to take control of the Print on Demand service his or herself, which may be considered a drawback, due to a lot of work already been put into a book and having a publisher may increase the publicity of a book, and also having an expert in the area handle the marketing and finance. At the same time however, this method does give the author full flexibility in the production of the book. It also costs more to publish a book as a one off as opposed to in block numbers, but as mentioned before, if the book sells the author will save on storage prices and money in distribution and handling.

Print on demand is a revolutionary new service, which will serve as a gateway for many new authors to make their way into the literary world.

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