Publishing & Printing Services

The Realities and Pitfalls of 'Print on Demand' (POD) Publishing

11th September 2014

What is POD (Print on Demand) publishing?

Print on Demand publishing (POD) is where you can print small quantities of books, or even one book at a time, which sounds like a really good drawcard for budding new authors when compared to the volume-needing print-runs of conventional offset book printing. Many new Pod publishers have sprung up around the world, because of laser print (digital) technologies and the phenomenal reach of the internet, especially in the USA, as quite a lucrative way of pulling in many paying authors many of whose manuscripts would normally end up in the slush pile of conventional publishers. Yes, every POD publisher around the world espouses the many virtues of Print-On-Demand publishing as advertised by them via a rare and select few of their successful Pod authors. But let's take a cold hard look at the realities and pitfalls of this type of publishing which is seldom or never talked about just check out Print-On-Demand publishing on the Internet!

Upfront, Yearly or Hidden Fees

To start off with, every POD publisher will demand an upfront set-up fee of one type or another where you can pay anywhere from $500 to $2500 with, or pay more without, a designed cover; and that's only for a conventional book with no graphically produced inclusions many of the lesser up-front fee POD publishers will charge an additional yearly and other mounting or hidden fees as well.

Non-returnable POD Books

POD books are invariably non-returnable, whereas conventionally published books are always returnable to publishers and other mainstream self-publishing authors. This is an economic no-no with book retailers who will not stock books that do not happen to sell and can't be returned! (Many have also been conned by unscrupulous authors who have ordered copies of their books which they never pick up and pay for). The majority of POD authors, whose manuscripts would normally end up in the slush pile of conventional publishers, are all having their POD books distributed or pushed unto over-loaded book retailers. Additionally POD books are more costly to print and hence incur too high a retail price. To sum up, most book retailers are therefore loath to stock and sell POD books a reality which never seems to come up when POD publishers espouse the many virtues of Print-On-Demand publishing!

Leaving out Important Essentials

Many POD publishers will leave out the essential barcode and ISBN (International Standard Book Number) in author's books as these cost time and money to incorporate. CIP (Cataloguing in Publication) information, as used by libraries, is also left out by many POD publishers. A conventional publisher would never leave such essential information out as it has an important bearing on the author's saleability of his or her book.

Your Meaningless POD Book Copyright Ownership

With their legal agreements the majority if not all POD publishers will somehow take control of your copyright, by insisting on 'exclusive world-wide electronic and print rights', or through other such similar legal jargon, even though expounding the virtues of never taking away your copyright entitlement. Some will not encroach on your copyright, but instead take out their own copyright on the design of the front and back cover or other parts of your book. In other words, in all cases, your copyright ownership becomes virtually meaningless!

POD Publishing Conclusion

The inevitable conclusion therefore is that the majority of POD books simply don't have a big enough market to set up a proper print run of at least a few thousand books! Along with the earlier information on the realities and pitfalls of POD publishing, my understanding of this runs in a similar vein with multi-level marketing where the people on top of the POD publishing empire (pyramid) rake in good money while the majority below it suffer financially! For my money (other than vanity publishing) conventional offset book publishing is still the fairest way to go for all concerned. Check out Bibliosity as the new and fairest way to publish and market your book.


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