Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Publisher's Weekly article on self-publishing

The desire to "release your writing" just got a little easier. I gave a presentation last night at Mt. Prospect Public Library (IL), touting the benefits of print-on-demand (POD). The savvy library director pointed me to this Publishers Weekly article. It says so many of the same things I was saying to the crowd last night:

[Lightning Source] CEO J. Kirby Best recites a list of print-on-demand milestones: Lightning Source has grown from three employees in 1997 to more than 500 today; the company digitally scans about 2,000 books a week and prints 1.2 million books a month. “It took us seven years to print 10 million books,” says Best as we stroll through the 159,000-sq.-ft. building. “This year we published 10 million books in the first 11 months.”

For years, print-on-demand has held out the promise of a new business model. Rather than print thousands of copies of a book and then work frantically to sell them, POD stands the usual publishing model on its head. POD offers publishers the possibility of selling a book before it is printed and then delivering it directly to a consumer, to a store or to a publisher's warehouse. As the differences in the quality between POD and conventional offset printing continue to shrink—“it's getting damn close to offset,” says Best—publishers are taking a good long look at the potential of POD technology to eliminate warehousing entirely and manage their supply chain as never before.

Nevertheless, publishers contacted for this article maintain that offset printing remains more cost effective for print runs over about 1,000 copies. Best, noting that Lightning Source can print up to 45,000 copies a day, is quick to argue that the difference in cost can be a myth, insisting that the cost-per-copy advantage of offset printing should be balanced against the prospect of pallets of unsold copies sitting in warehouses or sales lost because not enough copies are printed.

Note: In comment from "Yvonne" below, use www.ahablog.com for her link. Won't work without the www.
-- Helen


Anonymous said...

Readers of this blog might want to take a look at my book "Aiming at Amazon," which is about self publishing through Lightning Source.

Aaron Shepard

Yvonne said...

Wonderful post! As a POD publisher that offers a full author services package, it's delightful to see some positive comments about our way of helping authors achieve publishing (and sales) success. Thanks for sharing. Check out our Ahablog.com if you have a chance. (which stands for authors helping authors - as we're all in this together)

Yvonne said...

Helen, thank you for adding the www to my blog URL. I'm mentioning your post at Beneath the Cover this week, where I write about POD once a week. www.beneaththecover.com .

There are a lot of really great writers there - focused on all manner of writing and publishing. Join us...