The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing with a Digital Printer

Consider digital printing if you are in a hurry and want to save money.Although most print-on-demand POD publishing gets done on digital presses, not that many aspiring authors realize they can actually publish their books on a digital press or know why they might want to do so. Indeed, you might want to produce your blogged book this way or use a digital printer as well as a POD printer (and create an ebook, too), especially if you want to save money or get books fast. And yes, producing a printed version of your blogged book on a digital press is different than producing a digital book, which is called an ebook.

Digital Printing Explained

As I mentioned when I explained the POD process, digital printing employs laser and ink-jet printing methodology and sends  digital image files directly to the printer. Since this technology does not use a printing plate, as in offset printing, it is cheaper and less costly, but the print quality can be slightly lower than offset. That said, Digital printing provides a great option for many reasons.

Why Use a Digital Printer

If you want to self-publish and be an indie publisher as described previously, but you think you will have need to purchase your own POD book in quantity, the cost per book can be fairly high if you produce a POD book rather than a book using offset printing. However, digital printers provide good prices for short runs—much shorter runs than offset printers—and do so quickly. And the quality is still very good. Purchasing some copies from a digital printer might save you some money if you plan to:

  • sell books at the back of the room when you speak
  • sell books off your own website
  • give away many books to reviewers and or for promotions
  • control your distribution for some reason

Things to Consider

Digital printing companies may offer you the option of distribution, but you will pay a percentage to the printer and have to make some of the arrangements yourself at the other end (like with Amazon). You probably won’t get into some of the catalogs used by bookstores, like Baker & Taylor and Ingram. You can make arrangements to get your book distributed to online stores, though.

Using a digital printer adds a little cost into the mix of your book production. Although there is no cost for setting up an account, like you might have at Lightening Source, you will pay initial press setup fees for your book and shipping fees.

As with POD and subsidy printing, you will need to have your artwork ready for press. Your book designer can print-ready art to the printer’s specifications.

As a final note on digital printing, I love it and have used it in conjunction with POD printing and alone. I find it an inexpensive way to get high-quality books to sell when I speak as well as to sell books from my website when I do not want them available for wide distribution, such as on Amazon.  Plus, companies like, which I have used many times, and are quick and do a good job if you are in a hurry for some reason.

Image credit: alexmillos / 123RF Stock Photo


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