Ingram Blog

Why Use Print on Demand

Is one the loneliest number or the perfect amount? When it comes to printing books one-at-a-time, independent publishers are not alone in seeing the benefits. Print on Demand is helping independent and traditional publishers alike.

Our collection development team released an article last month about the guessing game publishers undertake with initial print runs for their warehouses and how they come to those decisions. But the truth of the matter is, there is no precise formula. Sometimes, even the most experienced publishers miss the mark.

Whether you’re facing that situation now - or want to prevent such a scenario - it’s print on demand to the rescue. In the print-on-demand (POD) publishing model, an initial print run does not exist. Instead, a publisher can choose to work with Ingram, which has a variety of publisher solutions, including print on demand, to set up an electronic file used to produce a physical copy of a book as a customer orders.

In fact, print on demand helps with a variety of publishing challenges. But when should you make it your go-to solution?

When one is enough. Print on demand is a great solution for titles in any sales cycle and from any publisher, independent or corporate, that have a long “tail,” or low demand over a very long period of time. Cambridge University Press has taken advantage of POD since 1998, printing over 10,000 titles in its first 10 years of use alone. Without it, there would be limited access to its highly-specialized scholarly backlist catalogue.

When demand is unpredictable. Many traditional publishers are now utilizing GAP or Guaranteed Availability Program, which allows publishers the opportunity to capture lost sales that might occur on a title that has random spikes in availability. For deeper backlist titles, several publishers have found that print on demand is a more flexible solution to keep pace with the dynamics of the marketplace.

Sometimes, there’s a big spike in demand for a specific title, when many copies are needed immediately. There could months or longer when a title is not requested and availability drops. No matter the demand curve, Print on Demand saves the day. Readers receive a freshly-printed copy of the book---no dusty warehouse specimens here---and publishers capture sales with fast turnaround times sometimes quicker than in-stock titles.

When storage is at a premium. Is there anything sadder than book pulping? It’s an unfortunate necessity for too many publishers when the space that the books occupy is more valuable than they are. The hard truth is, it’s costly to store a physical copy that may never sell. With print on demand, there are no books to store, so there is no need for pulping. POD is saving money and environmentally friendly. Speaking of cost savings ...

When you need a cost-effective solution. Print on demand is great for small publishers that cannot afford the initial outlay of cash and accompanying risk necessary for a traditional print run. When the students at a local magnet high school wrote novellas for senior projects, their adviser looked to Lightning Source to produce high-quality books for the budding authors.

In addition, without the overhead associated with large print runs, POD ensures profitability for every book sold with profitability increasing as volume increases, which has made it a popular choice for traditional publishers as well.

When quality is a concern. For many years, print on demand had a reputation for a finished product of a lesser quality than traditional print runs. With Lightning Source, not only do you receive books printed with impressive quality but you get great customer support in a business-to-business environment, access to all the customers and distribution channels of Ingram, and the capacity to do color books, hardcovers, and even offset runs of larger quantities.

When print on demand is the right choice for your titles, it only makes sense to work with a solution with the best printing technology available and backed by the vast resources of Ingram. For more information on Ingram’s Lightning Source print on demand solution, visit here.