What is Print-on-demand?

Posted by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Published On Sep 27, 2014

by Maralyn D. Hill and Brenda Hill

What is POD? Digital printing technology enables a book to be printed and bound in a few describe the imageminutes. It provides a cost effective means to print as little as one or several books at a time. It does not involve the costly setup fees associated with regular offset printing.

How do you pick a POD?

  • Talk to others.
  • Read publishers’ contracts thoroughly.
  • Go on-line to writers’ forums and see what others say.
  • A Google Search for Print on Demand will get current articles on the subject.
  • Set-up costs naturally matter, but free or low does not necessarily mean best.
  • Do you want or need color printing? That limits the number of POD publishers.
  • Do you want to include a CD with your book? Some POD publishers now offer that service.
  • Do the publishers charge an annual fee to keep you listed on their website?
  • Do the publishers accept book returns from book stores?
  • What type of discount does the author receive?
  • How often does the publisher pay royalties?
  • How do they distribute your book?
  • Do they have a website with pages devoted to your book?
  • Do they provide you with the details to format your own book or must you pay extra to use their formatting service?
  • What, if any, rights do they expect to have? Be sure you maintain your copyright.

Most authors want the basic package to include internal layout, ISBN number, and distribution through on-line stores including Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Read the contract and be careful not to give away your rights. Compare royalties and how they are determined and paid. Be sure listing is available through Ingram or Baker and Taylor if you want any chance of being placed in local bookstores. Also, a return program is a plus. Finally, the publisher’s reputation matters.

Most who publish with traditional publishers, large or small, will say that is the only way to go. However, we’ve met many who were published traditionally and when their sales dropped to 5 or 10,000 annually, they were dropped. In a few cases, these individuals started their own publishing company, went with a small publisher, or POD.

Even though POD is not as cost effective as a press where you purchase 1-5,000 books at a time (and store and ship them), we feel the services POD provides outweigh the cons.


Maralyn Hill and Brenda Hill, two published authors, have been working together as friends and partners over twenty years. They have shared joys, sorrows, and worldwide adventures. Among their unique characteristics, Maralyn lives on the East Coast and Brenda lives on the West Coast. The entire book was written in tandem by e-mail, fax, and harried flights. You can contact them at: Authors@NoraLyn.Com. Their affairs will continue in future books as the Hills journey around the world dining and writing. $uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book.

Topics: pod, print on demand, self publishing, independent publishing

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