Understanding Print On Demand – Part One


PODs or Print On Demand is just one of the amazing technologies we enjoy in the Internet fueled economy.  POD can pertain to book or artwork is basically affordable custom manufacturing.  Products created only when the customer places an order.

Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology and business process in which copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received, allowing books to be printed singly, or in small quantities. While build to order has been an established business model in many other industries, “print on demand” developed only after digital printing began, because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.

Before digital printing it would have been prohibitively expensive to produce a one off product.  Imagine going to a letterpress shop and asking the printer for a quote to print a single business card or a single wedding invitation. It just wouldn’t happen.

Print On Demand for Authors

Vanity printers have been around for decades.  Printers who would print a number of books for a “self-published” author looking to market their own books or perhaps create books as a promotion or giveaway item.  These authors were interested in bypassing the traditional mass publishing companies and create products directly.  Often this meant living with box loads of books in the garage or storage unit for years.

Now print on demand publishers such as Lulu or Amazon’s CreateSpace can inexpensively inventory and print and ship a book on demand when a buyer wants a single copy.  And they can offer these books on vast merchandising sites such as Amazon.

This is the method I used to create and sell my books “the Quotable Westie” and “Pugs”.

the Quotable Westie – https://www.createspace.com/4070210

the Quotable Westie - funny dog photographs.
the Quotable Westie – funny dog photographs.

Pugs – https://www.createspace.com/5240200

Pugs by Edward M. Fielding - a funny look at lovable pug dogs.
Pugs by Edward M. Fielding – a funny look at lovable pug dogs.

The print quality is not what you’d expect from a high quality coffee table book printed in Italy.  But the print on demand digital printing method allows the author to offer a unique book at a very affordable price.  These little books make great gift items and the quality is acceptable.

For the buyer, POD books allows for more choices and undeserved niches on subjects and topics might never make it to the shelves of a national chain store book merchant.

How To Create POD books

Creating POD books can be a bit tricky but vendors such as Lulu and Createspace offer downloadable templates to use.  Straight text is the easiest way to create a book as their are no graphics to format but it is possible to layout a photo or graphic heavy book, page by page in Photoshop.  All of the information can be found on the various vendor websites.  Cover images can be licensed and cover designers offer their services online.  Don’t skimp on the cover as this is the main marketing vehicle for any book.

Coming Up – Part Two of Understanding Print On Demand

In Part Two of Understanding Print On Demand, we’ll discuss buying and selling art via Print On Demand sites for artists and collectors.