Print on demand is an exciting way to produce books and is relatively new—only about 15 years old. It has revolutionized book creation and the publishing market, from family books to work by creative pros, to mainline publishers and academics. With sophisticated digital printers, books no longer need an elaborate setup on traditional printers with plates and large runs. Color, sharpness, resolution, consistency—these have all increased dramatically since digital printing started. The difference between a digitally printed book and a traditionally printed book is nearly undetectable. Books are printed one at a time, and this is a game-changer. Here’s why you should consider print on demand.

1. No large, high-cost, upfront orders

When people think of self-publishing, we hear this question over and over again: “But what is the cost, really? What’s the catch? No, really. How much does it ACTUALLY cost to self-publish?” It’s hard to believe the answer: Nothing. The only cost is your time and the price of one book. That’s the beauty of the digital printing revolution. Books are printed on demand as they’re paid for, so you don’t have to spend thousands to sell one book. Without a major investment, it’s possible to have immediate profit on every copy.

2. Digital on demand printing is faster

Traditional printing, or offset printing, takes months at minimum for setup and proofing, let alone printing and shipping the larger order from far away. Digital printing can do a small run in a matter of weeks, depending on the quantity, and the cost of proofing is one book at a time (depending on how many rounds of proofing you need to do.) Don’t mistake the faster speed for lower quality. These are not like the digital printers people have in their homes. These professional-grade printers can print up to 2400 dpi, with astonishing clarity, color saturation, and precise alignment. Even though it’s faster, the digital printing on demand process is still manually set and checked by a human each step of the way, assuring quality control and accuracy. 

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3. Digital printing is scalable

The plates used in traditional printing can only be used once. This means that once a run has sold out, it can’t be reordered without setting up and proofing all over again. If you order 2,000 books and need 100 more, it’s too late. The opposite is also true. If you needed only 100 books but ran 2000 of them, you’re left with that significant investment and all those extra copies. Digital printing on demand removes the risk and need for guesswork! You can print your book 5, 10, 50, 100 copies at a time. The more you print at a time, the lower the cost. If you need more copies, you can have them in-hand in a couple weeks.

Additionally, order fulfillment is generally handled by the printer. You can sell your book online, and it will ship straight from the printer to your customer. You don’t have to track shipping costs and labor for yourself.

By putting your work in the world one copy at a time, it’s easier to iterate. You can make changes, print a few more on demand. You can fix errors, you can customize covers and content, quickly and easily, from the same file, at no extra cost. Printing on demand offers the lowest risk and the greatest flexibility. If you’re just beginning to consider selling your book or magazine, this is a great place to start.

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