Saturday, August 8, 2009

More about POD


I questioned in an earlier post whether the phenomenon of POD, or Print On Demand, the digital publishing industry, would soon become the successor to conventional offset printing. Many conventional publishers are either rushing or planning to rush onto the bandwagon of all things digital. Authors, who love the idea of not going through the submissions, editing and royalty processes with traditional publishers, are turning to POD companies to get their manuscripts published. The former epithet, "self-publishing" no longer pertains, and with the ever growing number of online reviewers (some professional but most just general readers), it no longer matters that a traditional book critic won't consider reviewing a print-on-demand book. Print reviewers are yesterday's news according to young writers, anyway. But what about publishers, who still wish to remain curators of quality, working with book agents and their own editors to produce what they consider superior professional products? They will still continue to do that for the near future, but what about tomorrow? Will POD save the book industry from crumbling into dust? According to experts, POD can be great for small press runs, to publish second editions, say, or for niche publishers, who publish very few books at a time. Traditional brick and mortar bookstores are still wary of carrying POD books because they cannot be returned if unsold. However, like anyone else, if a bookstore owner thinks she has a hit on her hands, she'll buy POD books PDQ. For Bridge Works, POD publishing is worth considering. We generally print twice the number of titles than we sell. That means we need space for inventory, therefore pay big bucks to buy that space. We wouldn't have to worry about overstock with POD publishing. But the average number of POD sales is about 200, probably because with POD, there is a charge for each book, as opposed to the one-time cost of a traditional print run no matter how many copies are involved. And we publishers still undergo a terrible uncertainty about how many copies a title will sell. What if a title takes off and we don't have the inventory to supply wholesalers? At the moment, the guessing game seems more viable than running out of product. For small publishers like Bridge Works, POD is still a large gamble. Comment at