The Print-on-Demand Process Explained

explaination of the print on demand processIf you wan to create a publishing company of your own to produce your blogged book, print quality, inexpensive books but don’t want to worry about storing or distributing inventory, you probably don’t want to choose offset printing. You may want to join the ranks of so many authors today who use print-on-demand (POD) technology to publish their books.

What is POD Publishing?

With POD publishing or printing, a book gets printed only when someone places an order. Then the order is fulfilled—starting with printing and ending with shipping. That’s why it is called “print on demand.” Orders equate to demand.

POD publishing was developed after digital printing. Prior to that time, it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing. Digital printing employs such modern printing methods as laser and ink-jet. An image is sent directly to the printer using digital files, like PDFs, or jpgs created from graphic design software, like Adobe InDesign. This technology has no need for a printing plate, which is used in offset printing, and this saves money and time. The print quality tends to be slightly lower than offset, though.

As the author, you can typically purchase your printed book from the POD company at a discount. You place an order for more than just one book at a time if you want to have a larger quantity around for back-of-the-room sales when you speak or to send to reviewers, for example.

Find a POD Printer

The two most popular POD printers are:

  • Lightening Source
  • CreateSpace (Amazon)

You can find other companies who use this printing technology, however, including some ebook publishers. They will turn your manuscript into both an ebook and a POD book. Additionally, some POD printers will turn your printed book into an ebook for you as well.

POD is becoming so common and inexpensive that you may soon find what are called Espresso Book Machines in a variety of stores. You can choose a book you want to purchase, press a button, and while you shop for other items, this machine will print and bind your book.

Why Choose POD

POD printing is a great choice for most authors.

  • You don’t have to spend a lot of money on printing large numbers of books.
  • You can make your book available to readers, since most POD printers also offer distribution.
  • You can easily set up your own publishing company by purchasing an ISBN and uploading your finished design and metadata (information about your book) to the printer.
  • It’s inexpensive.
  • It’s fast.

Make sure you compare companies. In particular, look at the quality of the books and the distribution they offer. You want to end up in online stores and in the catalogs bookstores use when ordering books, like Ingram and Baker & Taylor.


  1. Nina Amir says

    Next week I’ll be discussing digital books. I’ve done several that way. But POD is very accessible.


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