Pros and Cons of Print on Demand

Technology has evolved to the point that books can be printed in smaller quantities with minimal lead time. In the past, offset or traditional printing was the option for mainstream publishing and required large quantities of a book to be printed each time. However, print-on-demand (often referred to as POD) is a now a method of digital book printing that allows book copies to be printed as they are needed, from one copy to thousands, instead of being printed in a large quantity in a single run. Print-on-demand has been pivotal in democratizing publishing because it enables bookmakers to order as many, or as few, copies as they like. That means if you need one book copy, you print only one copy. If you need 100 book copies, you print 100. POD also allows you to put your book up for sale and wait for someone to buy a copy before you print it—making your book available on-demand.

However, is POD the best option for printing your books? To help you answer that question, let’s consider some pros and cons of print on demand.

1. A POD book can be printed in a relatively short time; the long wait usually required for traditional presses to print your work is cut to a minimum.

2. The technical setup for print on demand publishing is quicker and less involved than the setup for offset or traditional printing. Usually, formatting material for POD takes minutes to upload and adjust. For traditional printers, this is not the case.

3. Overhead costs for storage, handling, and inventory are significantly reduced because POD ordering drives down the costs that would be associated with having a large inventory.

4. With POD, books are never out of stock; hence, older titles and rare editions can be brought back to life again as soon as they are demanded.

5. POD allows the flexibility of offering niche publications, such as specialized academic texts or cookbooks, which would appeal to a small market niche.

6. With POD, publishers have greater flexibility in handling unique print requirements. For example, publishers may want to print limited copies of a new author’s work to gauge market reception or restrict the number of copies for material with a short sales life.

1. The per-unit cost for POD is usually greater than that of traditional offset printing. The beauty of offset printing is that the greater the quantity of books ordered, the less you pay per unit. If a book is produced exclusively with POD, you may find that the cost of a single book printed a thousand times does not compare favorably with the low cost of a traditional print of a thousand copies.

2. POD books are not usually returnable, which means that brick and mortar stores are less likely to carry them unless they are handled by a reputable distributor.

3. After factoring in the costs behind a POD book, most have to be sold at a higher price than those printed traditionally in order to yield the same profit.

If you decide Print-on-Demand is the way to go, Lucid Books can help you. We have frequently uploaded books to Lightning Source and know how to use their templates and what glitches to watch for to make sure your book files are accepted. We also have good relationships with several different printers who are known for producing high quality books and offering competitive pricing.

If you would like to learn more, connect with one of our team members to learn how you can Get Started! Be sure to sign-up to receive free access to our Partnership Publishing Guide.