What Is Print-On-Demand Publishing (POD)? A Guide for Self-Publishers

By Joseph C Kunz, Jr 

Print-on-demand (POD), is sometimes known as publish-on-demand. The computer, the internet, and POD have together been fueling the huge surge in self-publishing. It is a fast way to get your books into the market; easy to set-up an POD account; can be started with very little out-of-pocket money; and can offer a steady stream of income for the self-publisher. POD eliminates most of the risks associated with publishing.


Just-in-Time Production

Print-on-demand publishing is a way to have books printed and bound – but only after a customer places an order for the book. Whether the customer orders one copy or ten, these copies will be created, within minutes, and sent out to that customer – therefore no inventory for the publisher or the distributor to buy and put into storage. This process can happen this way because the book printer has a digital file of the book and its cover in its computerized book-making machine. The self-publisher can make changes and additions to the book within minutes – and upload the new files to the printer in minutes.

Beneficial to Large Publishers

Print-on-demand publishing has been revolutionizing the publishing industry. Many large publishers use it as a cost-effective way to keep their out-of-print titles in print. Very large publishers can very easily have hundreds of out-of-print titles. Why warehouse actual copies of these books when the publisher can simply send a digital file of each book to a print on demand printer? With the POD method, these out-of-print titles can continue to produce income for the publisher.

Beneficial to Self-publishers

Print-on-demand publishing is one of the main reasons self-publishing has become so popular and financially feasible for many people on a tight budget. The upfront costs of POD are much lower than conventional publishing and printing. The cost per copy is higher with POD. But with POD, there is no inventory involved. Traditional book printers typically require that a self-publisher order thousands of copies from the printer. With POD, no purchase is required. This represents a real opportunity for small start-ups in the publishing world. This transforms the economics of publishing. It allows books to be published with a very small initial investment and ongoing cost.

What About the Quality?

POD books are printed in about one minute on computerized copy machines. Traditionally printed books are printed on large-scale printing presses. No one can tell the difference between a POD book and a printing press book.

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