In Your Corner: What is the Difference Between Traditional Printing vs Print on Demand?

apple versus donut choices

One of the biggest decisions for self-published authors is whether to choose traditional printing or print on demand (POD). The publishing consultants I work with are constantly asked questions about the differences and benefits of traditional printing versus print on demand. Below I have answered three of the most common questions we’re asked about POD . Hopefully, the answers will give you a better understanding of the two types of services and help you determine if print on demand is right for you.

Why should I choose POD rather than traditional printing?

Most authors who select POD want their self-publisher to handle distribution and fulfillment as well as the actual printing of the books. This allows the author to focus on what they do best – writing, and hopefully marketing, their books – instead of managing inventory, packaging orders, and shipping books to the buyer.

Why is the per book cost higher for a POD title compared to a traditionally printed title?

The more you buy (of anything, from books to business cards) from a traditional printer the lower your unit cost. Whether you print 100 copies of an item or 1000 copies, your set up costs are the same, and they are amortized over the entire print run. Typically, buyers  order more than they actually need  to achieve a lower unit price.  In POD, the cost of your book is the same for book number 1 and book 2000 because each book is printed one at a time and the set up is included in every individual copy.

So why would I accept a higher unit price?

Authors that select POD are doing it for two specific reasons. The first is they want their self-publisher to print the book and deliver it to the purchaser without them having to be personally involved. The second is cash-flow. Inventory costs money. Buying 2000 books, for example, at $3.50 per book will require an investment of $7,000.00. In a nutshell, POD authors are trading a higher per book cost for the luxury of not having 1000’s of dollars worth of inventory sitting in their home office.

POD is a great option for authors who are concerned about time management and inventory cost. After all, authors should be writing and marketing not storing, packaging, and shipping books.

I’d love to hear your questions, advice, and experiences with traditional printing and print on demand.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Marketing Missteps Episode 5 : Printing Anything Other Than On Demand

This series is my love letter to marketing for self-publishers.  But you know what’s more fun than reading love letters?  Reading hate mail.  So while I remain a firm advocate of thinking positively and of making as many innocent errors as is necessary to refine our techniques to perfection, I have been framing this series–now four weeks gone–in the context of the dangerous and the deadly in terms of marketing missteps. Thus far, I have addressed the following errors:

As I mentioned last week, each of these things can tank your book sales singly and for a long time, and a combination of these mistakes will leave you struggling to recover years in the future.  And while some other steps off of the narrow path to success won’t necessarily damage you irrevocably–a few mistakes are, as I said, useful for making adjustments–these ones just might.  These are the Big Bads, the missteps you don’t want to make.

So today, I’m writing hate mail to self-publishing packages that lock you into massive initial print runs.  The error?

Printing Anything Other Than On Demand

Some authors out there will caution you against doing a print run without already having  solid distribution deal in place, but I’ll take it one step further and caution you against buying into any publication package that locks you into an unsupportably large print run.  The average hybrid publishing company (also sometimes and misguidedly referred to as a “vanity press”) will offer a range of packages to choose from, depending on your budget, and many of them include these massive print runs in order to set you up to compete with traditional publishers and their even more massive print runs.

The problem is this: we can’t compete with traditional publishers by replicating their behaviors.  Self-publishers simply don’t have the same budget, and the same margin for error.  Traditional publishers want to flood the market with a book in order to sell as many copies as possible by simple exposure alone, but they also have the distribution deals to get their books into a lot of different markets to do so.  These distribution deals mean that if a book sells poorly in one corner of the world, Hachette or Penguin or whoever can simply bundle up all of those books and send them somewhere where they are selling well.  Or, if they’re selling poorly everywhere, the loss is attenuated by the profits from other books entirely–books that are selling well.

Campus Bookstore at University of Pennsylvania

Unless you have the reach and courier services of a traditional publishing company, I caution against these massive initial print runs.  I am a firm advocate for printing some copies of your book from the outset–they’re useful for ARCs, for book readings, and for giveaways–but they should be a tool, not a burden.  If your garage is stacked floor to ceiling with printed copies of your book that you can’t sell and can’t move, that benefits no one–and it’s a needlessly expensive price to pay in a market where ebooks continue to be a profitable source of income for the self-publishing author.

I’m not saying that there aren’t benefits to printing your books in bulk: you do save money.  But what do you lose?  You end up covering shipping expenses later, and having to manage distribution through your own personal website.  That’s a lot of work, and most authors don’t have the time or resources after that initial purchase to operate within luxurious margins.

So: keep that first print run small, until you can gauge future demand.  Better to sell out that first print run entirely and put in another order via Print on Demand (POD) copies than to end up sending your books to landfill.  (And believe me, this is such a common experience among my self-publishing acquaintance.)  Better yet, start with POD instead of turning to it as a second option.  Hybrid publishing companies like Outskirts Press, my own employer, offer several packages that allow you to cut back on the numbers–or to start without a built-in print run, with the option of going straight to POD copies purchased wholesale.  Other hybrid publishing companies offer similar deals with some variation, but the fact remains: this kind of plan helps keep initial costs down, and frees up your money for other, more carefully targeted marketing strategies.

 

 


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM

From the Archives: “Espresso Book Machine”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: January 31st, 2012 ]

The Espresso Book Machine® (the “EBM”), which Time Magazine named an “Invention of the Year,” provides a revolutionary direct-to-consumer distribution model for books. Put simply, the EBM is an automated book-making machine. The operator selects a title to print, and within a few minutes a book emerges, with a full-color cover, trimmed to an exact size, and indistinguishable from the publisher’s version. As we say, “Hot off the press!”

Currently, Espresso Book Machines have been set-up in select universities and libraries including:

  • New York Public Library
  • University of Michigan Library
  • World Bank InfoShop, Washington
  • New Orleans Public Library
  • San Francisco Internet Archive
  • Manchester Center Northshire Bookstore
  • University of Alberta
  • McMaster University Bookstore
  • London Newsstand UK
  • Library of Alexandria, Egypt
  • Melbourne, Australia Angus & Robertson Bookstore

New locations are constantly being added. The EBM is a great opportunity for self-published authors. Some self-publishing companies, such as Outskirts Press, offer this marketing option. By purchasing this option, your book will be available to be ordered, printed, and sold at every current and future Espresso Book Machine location. To learn more about this option, contact your self-publishing company.

– by Cheri Breeding

It’s been rather a long time since we’ve touched on the subject of the Espresso Book Machine here at Self Publishing Advisor, despite the fact that the above post from 2012 remains one of our most popular posts of all time.  What is it about this machine––what’s the big deal?  And more importantly, is it delivering upon its promise as a revolution for the self-publishing print-on-demand (POD) business?

espresso book machine
photo by Chuck Zovko of Columbia College Today

There’s a long and a short answer to both of these questions, of course.  The EBM is not just a pretty gadget that happens to churn out new books as quickly as the average human takes to brew an espresso; it’s a gadget that has the potential to close the last leg of the loop and put full creative (and financial) rights into the hands of those who have historically been excluded from the publishing process.  I’m speaking of the author.  While its many bells and whistles are nice features––like the database of rare or out-of-print books you can resurrect in all their original glory––the real appeal of the EBM is that it literally as well as physically puts a high-quality printed book in your hand in around seven minutes.  For the average self-publishing author, the experience of holding and experiencing the weight of all those sleepless nights and odd hours writing is simply unattainable––that is, without a service like the EBM making a limited run financially manageable.  Holding a clean and professional copy of your baby is a reward in and of itself, and the expediency for which the EBM is renowned makes it easy to share the joy of your book.  That’s the magic of the Espresso Book Machine!

espresso book machine
photo by the University of Arizona

As for the EBM’s outlook and longevity, the news seems to be good.  The machines aren’t available “just anywhere” yet, but they’re becoming less of a trial to find.  I recently had the pleasure of witnessing an EBM at work in the University of Arizona’s library, where undergraduates printed out copies of research-related texts, graduates printed out beautiful bound editions of their thesis projects, and professors printed out volumes of their own masterworks-in-progress.

Members of the public, too, have made the UofA’s EBM a popular destination––and it’s not just an Arizonan phenomenon!  According to Canada’s The Windsor Starthe Windsor Public Library’s EBM alone produced “10,699 books” between 2012 and July 2015, when the article was published.  Says librarian Sue Perry, the EBM’s installation “led to the birth of a writer’s group and gave people a way to publish their work even if they only want one book.” Now that’s quite a testimonial.

According to WorldCrunch, the EBM and its competitors are on track to “save” the print publishing industry.  At the Paris Book Fair, the CEO of the EBM’s main shareholder (reinsurance company SCOR) went on the record to say that the Espresso Book Machine and those who use it “will be the invisible hand that will adjust the market,” eliminating what he called “economies of scale” by making it possible to print either 1 copy of a book or 1000 without the gymnastics of traditional publishing arrangements.  WordCrunch goes on to note that, a decade after stealing the limelight of both tech and print-on-demand industries, the Espresso Book Machine is still “experimental but game-changing.”  And that’s about as good of news as one might hope for!

We look forward to seeing what 2016 holds for the Espresso Book Machine.

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Traditional Printing vs Print on Demand… What is the Difference?

One of the biggest decisions for self-published authors is whether to choose traditional printing or print on demand (POD). As a publishing consultant, I am constanly asked questions about the differences and benefits of traditional printing versus print on demand. Below I have answered three of the most common questions I’m asked about POD . Hopefully, the answers will give you a better understanding of the two types of services and help you determine if print on demand is right for you.

Why should I choose POD rather than traditional printing?

Most authors who select POD want their self-publisher to handle distribution and fulfillment as well as the actual printing of the books. This allows the author to focus on what they do best – writing, and hopefully marketing, their books – instead of managing inventory, packaging orders, and shipping books to the buyer.

Why is the per book cost higher for a POD title compared to a traditionally printed title?

The more you buy (of anything, from books to business cards) from a traditional printer the lower your unit cost. Whether you print 100 copies of an item or 1000 copies, your set up costs are the same, and they are amortized over the entire print run. Typically, buyers  order more than they actually need  to achieve a lower unit price.  In POD, the cost of your book is the same for book number 1 and book 2000 because each book is printed one at a time and the set up is included in every individual copy.

So why would I accept a higher unit price?

Authors that select POD are doing it for two specific reasons. The first is they want their self-publisher to print the book and deliver it to the purchaser without them having to be personally involved. The second is cash-flow. Inventory costs money. Buying 2000 books, for example, at $3.50 per book will require an investment of $7,000.00. In a nutshell, POD authors are trading a higher per book cost for the luxury of not having 1000’s of dollars worth of inventory sitting in their home office.

POD is a great option for authors who are concerned about time management and inventory cost. After all, authors should be writing and marketing not storing, packaging, and shipping books.

I’d love to hear your questions, advice, and experiences with traditional printing and print on demand.

ABOUT WENDY STETINA:
Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

 

“Traditional” Self-Publishing and Print on Demand – What’s the Difference?

Your garage is full of books. Your basement is full of books. The trunk of your car is full of books. You’ve self-published a book, huh?

Historically, that was the case. Authors would order many copies of their book and keep them all around. They would often sell them on the streets or exercise other methods to “get rid of the inventory”. For a while, though, self-publishing authors have been able to take advantage of advances in the publishing industry to offer Print on Demand (or POD).

POD affords authors freedom from carrying loads of inventory in their home or vehicle. Authors also save money with utilizing such a solution. Though the cost per book may be a bit higher, resulting in lower royalty payments, self-publishing authors don’t have to worry about such a large upfront cost (to purchase books for their inventory) or having a lot of books on hand that won’t sell. With POD, your books aren’t printed until a customer orders them.

While some authors may be advocates for self-publishing in the “traditional” sense, POD makes sense for authors who are cost-sensitive or risk-averse. There is very little risk factor involved with POD. The only risk you really assume is wondering whether anyone will buy the book that you invested money into publishing.

DISCUSSION: Do you prefer POD or “traditional” self publishing? Have you experienced both? Share your story in the comments.

Affiliate Opportunites in Self-publishing

With the inevitable explosion of print-on-demand, there are more authors than ever before dipping their feet into the self-publishing game. In fact, the term dipping feet may be an understatement considering the volume of new, developing, and somewhat esoteric information involved in self-publishing. Some authors come from the traditional arena and have a degree of knowledge and understanding corresponding with their experience. Other authors may have independently published books in the past, consider themselves savvy, and are now seeking the advantages that come from joining forces with a full-service print-on-demand self publisher.

The great majority, however, are new authors, anxious to learn, but not possessing much history or background in the industry. They often rely upon the information they read on the internet, hear from friends/associates, or receive from their publisher. In fact, the term self-publishing has expanded in scope to include publishing content in blogs, forums, online newsletters, even videos.

You may find yourself somewhere along that continuum or in the process of researching publishing options for your own material. Have you considered that your expertise can benefit other writers while at the same time earning you additional income? The process is called Affiliate Marketing and a great opportunity offered through various self-publishing leaders.

Affiliates can often earn up to 10% or more for each author they refer. Here are the nuts and bolts:

It’s perhaps the easiest and fastest way to share your knowledge as an industry thought leader while at the same time earning extra income in the home based internet business, and you do not have to develop your own service. Instead, generate revenue by simply referring authors to recognized, professional custom self-publishing services through the credibility your experience provides. What’s more, you get to see the investment that comes from seeing authors reach their publishing goals.



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Have fun and keep writing

Exploring Affiliate Options in Self-publishing

With the inevitable, ongoing explosion of print-on-demand, there are more authors than ever before dipping their feet into the self-publishing game. In fact, the term dipping feet may be an understatement considering the volume of new, developing, and somewhat esoteric information involved in self-publishing. Some authors come from the traditional arena and have a degree of knowledge and understanding corresponding with their experience. Other authors may have independently published books in the past, consider themselves savvy, and are now seeking the advantages that come from joining forces with a full-service print-on-demand self publisher.

The great majority, however, are new authors, anxious to learn, but not possessing much history or background in the industry. They often rely upon the information they read on the internet, hear from friends/associates, or receive from their publisher. In fact, the term self-publishing has expanded in scope to include publishing content in blogs, forums, online newsletters, even videos.

You may find yourself somewhere along that continuum or in the process of researching publishing options for your own material. Have you considered that your expertise can benefit other writers while at the same time earning you additional income? The process is called Affiliate Marketing and a great opportunity offered through various self-publishing leaders.

Affiliates can often earn up to 10% or more for each author they refer. Here are the nuts and bolts:

It’s perhaps the easiest and fastest way to share your knowledge as an industry thought leader while at the same time expanding your own platform and earning extra income in the home based internet business, and you do not have to develop your own service. Instead, generate revenue by simply referring authors to recognized, professional custom self-publishing services through the credibility your experience provides. What’s more, you get to see the investment that comes from seeing authors reach their publishing goals.

– Karl



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Have fun and keep writing