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by Deborah Greenspan
Print on demand publishing is just what it sounds like: the ability to print one, a hundred, or five hundred books as they’re needed. Instead of publishing 25,000 to 100,000 copies and then trying to sell them all, publishers that use POD technology are now able to publish only as many books as are ordered. This saves huge amounts of money (as well as trees), and is revolutionizing the entire book publishing industry.
A Little Background: As is happening in every industry, traditional publishing companies are merging, buying up smaller companies, and consolidating their operations. Today, there are only about ten major houses still in existence (they’ve bought up most of the others), and each is facing huge overhead costs. Besides offices in New York, London, Paris, and Los Angeles, high-paid staff, and enormous marketing budgets, they also must print thousands upon thousands of copies of each book they produce, warehouse them, and accept returns from bookstores if the books don’t sell. If a house is producing a few hundred titles a year, they need bestsellers and authors with huge followings in order to survive. The more modest mid-list books—the ones that won’t sell a million copies—are an enormous gamble that traditional houses no longer want to handle.
This has left a huge hole in the book market that used to be occupied by mid-list books, but is now being filled by those same books published not by the big houses, but by the authors themselves, often with the help of a self-publishing company. While traditionally at the mercy of publishers—especially when they’re first starting out—writers today have other options. Nowadays, with ebook and print on demand publishing, a book can be made available to readers for very little money, and the writer who puts in the time and effort to create that work can also be the one who benefits the most from it. Writers earn greater rewards through print on demand publishing than through traditional publishing while maintaining more control over their work. Royalties are higher, and the online sales potential is unlimited.
Print on demand publishing is nothing short of a revolution. And although there are publishers and printers who see only the profits to be made, we see print on demand publishing as a way to expand knowledge and bring the ideas, thoughts, and dreams of real people to the forefront of human consciousness. While many in the traditional publishing industry condemn print on demand because it allows the publication of literally anything—no matter how poorly written—we prefer to see the open forum for ideas and do what we can to correct poor grammatical and structural forms by insisting on editorial quality. We know there is an audience out there for every book, and we do our best to help writers create books that are appealing to that audience.