The Publishing Shell Game
Traditional offset printing, print-on-demand, or e-book? Deciding how to deliver content to the marketplace is a confusing and expensive challenge for the small publisher.
Facing a printing bill due in 30 days when income won't follow until 90 days or later is a problem for even well-funded organizations.
You could offset print a 10-year supply of a new $12.95 title to cut its unit cost to 10 cents. Or you could leverage print-on-demand technology (POD) to produce a one-week supply, at a unit cost of $10.
Or you could release it as an e-book for next to nothing, but the up-front technology costs can be daunting. And don't forget that thorny digital rights management issue.
Consider these seven factors when trying to determine the best production path for a new title.
1. The Editorial
How many pages does the book have? Costs for offset and POD depend upon the amount of paper used. Books with fewer than 100 and more than 700 pages are better suited for production by offset.
Does your book feature interior color? POD technology, while improving rapidly, still lags offset in color quality.
Will the book need to be revised, and how often? If your book will require frequent changes, consider running smaller quantities using POD, or releasing it as an e-book only.
2. The Binding
Will strength of binding be a factor? If you are selling into school and library markets, sturdy binding is a must. Offset will probably be the better choice. Before going with POD, ask for samples from POD printers, and test the binding's strength.
3. Price and Profitability
At what point will you price yourself out of the market? With POD, you pay a higher unit cost, but lower overall cost, due to smaller quantities.