How Does Printing On Demand Work?

Traditionally, publishing models fell into one of two categories: sell your work to a publisher and have them print, distribute, and market your book, or work with a printer to print off your book, eat the costs yourself, and do the legwork of distributing and marketing yourself.

Going through a publishing house had its advantages–it comes with no upfront costs (and sometimes you get paid an advance before your book ever hits the shelves), but the royalties an author earns for each book can be minimal, especially if sales are lackluster.

On the other end, there’s a high upfront cost for the author, plus considerably more work marketing and distributing, but the profit per book is much higher. However, both have a built-in flaw: there are almost invariably more books printed than purchased.

The Solution: Printing on Demand

In recent years, a third avenue for printing books enmasse has entered the spotlight: print on demand. This model works exactly as advertised–the books are printed as needed, which takes away the guesswork inherent to the two more traditional models of publication.

Modern print on demand publication uses the internet to distribute a digital copy of the book to printers, reaching far more consumers than would otherwise be possible. The author just has to upload their finalized, formatted book into a database and it’s instantly available for purchase. If something needs to be edited, it’s as easy as updating the document and re-uploading it into the system.

Because each book is printed upon purchase, there’s no need to reissue a new edition when new information is available or when typos are fixed. It also allows for extremely small print runs of books, even as few as a single copy.

Available Variations

Further, books can be customized with variable printing options, making each one unique to the customer. For example, this is a great way for astrology books to include the buyer’s specific horoscope or to include a child’s name and specific characteristics into a custom kid’s book.

Most print on demand services are accessed online and then shipped to the consumer. However, there are also options available in some major bookstores to have a book chosen from a catalogue of options printed right in front of the customer’s eyes, adding a bit of entertainment to their shopping trip. This means that consumers can still have the pleasure of going into a bookstore and bringing their new favorite paperback home with them.

With online options, print on demand also allows for better distribution across multiple channels. By removing the risk to retailers, there’s more incentive to list your book. There’s also no costs incurred by purchasing copies and storing them, taking up valuable shelf or warehouse space. Just like with consumers who purchase the book directly, companies just have to order exactly how many copies were purchased and no more.

Final Thoughts

Print on demand helps to bridge the gap between big publishing houses and self-published authors, giving authors the ability to reach markets they wouldn’t otherwise have access to while still giving them the option to purchase multiple copies to have on hand for events and conventions.

If you’d like to know more, and to find out if print on demand is right for you, contact us today.