POD's Higher Purpose
Eight months ago, my company had the pleasure of introducing full-color picture books to the realm of personal publishing.
For the first time, self-publishing a children's picture book or high-quality book of photography was highly accessible and affordable to the creators of such work.
But these technological advances and these state-of-the-art installations of digital printing, as exciting as they are, are not the point. Nor do they simply represent a set of business opportunities although they do extend the commercial printer's suite of services to clients large and small.
Print-on-demand, or POD, represents something far more interesting and important than technology for technology's sake. There is something far more fundamental and far reaching implied by these developments; something (in the long run) as significant as moveable type and even Gutenberg's press.
What I am referring to is the ever-increasing access to publication of all kinds of creative works. Let me spin some scenarios.
The year is 2013. A young archaeologist makes a tremendous discovery beneath the ruins of a Franciscan mission, long-lost in the jungles of Guatemala. Sealed in an earthenware case is a previously unknown Mayan codex from the Classic period.
It's 140 enormous pages of Amatol paper in glorious condition, covered with thousands of minute commentaries from the time of its creation. The Franciscan Codex will make possible the complete interpretation of the Dresden, Madrid, Paris and Grolier codices dating from the later post-Classic period.
Photographing the pages as high resolution digital images is easy, but they must be viewed full-size so 15 scholars around the globe can begin to interpret this monumental find. Online viewing isn't sufficient.
Our scholar decides to publish the codex as 140 individual 42" x 77" pages, in faithful full-color reproduction, using a personal digital publishing service in Guatemala City. Within days of his discovery, scholars around the globe pick up their copies at local digital printing facilities. Total cost to our young archaeologist: $1,000.