So many authors end up buying boxes of pre-printed books without understanding why they have now got these wretched masses in their closets and garages. Looking at the different types of print output will help you choose the right method to sell your book without felling trees and buying extra coat rails just to sell books.
Differences Between POD and Offset Printing
Print On Demand printing means you are running a digital print from the PDF file of your book. This is usually done on trade-quality paper, either white or cream, with standard inks.
Offset printing means the printing expert will make an offset plate for each color in your book and print a “run” of several hundred books. Here is an explanation from Print Ninja with video.
Are all POD self-publishing services the same?
I often see authors getting picky over paper density and acid levels etc. on forums, talking as if there is a vast chasm between each service offered. Please don’t. They are all “trade” POD presses. I promise you nobody is setting up a special plate for just your book anywhere in the POD industry. The main services available are listed here, with our reviews of each one where available, with author comments:
- CreateSpace/KDP (recommended)
- Hillcrest (Mill City Press)
- Ingram Spark/Lightning Source
What it means to go Non-POD
You’ll have to get yourself a “run” of many books delivered to you in boxes if you want anything else, and you’ll have to find a traditional “vanity press” style setup with a printing machine to do that, or an “offset” printers. They are identifiable by charging you for hundreds of books at a time, and they’ll also have a pulping service available. Over 77 million books are pulped every year in the UK alone, according to the Publishers Association, so you want to consider this before going non-POD.
Going non-POD/offset is going to mean a few things:
- You’ll have to physically shift the print books yourself from your storage space to your reader, typically taking a lot more time and effort than POD on CreateSpace, which mails the books for you, so ask yourself if you have that many people actually waiting for their copy.
- You’ll need a biiiiggg storage space. You can see a photo of indie author Joanna Penn with her mass of boxes when she tried it back in 2008, on her website. She says, “I paid a considerable amount of money to have 2000 books printed. I thought they would fly off the shelves, making me some money and changing people’s lives. I ended up selling about 100 books and putting the rest in the landfill, because later that year, I discovered ebooks, print-on-demand and internet marketing. So I’m passionate about helping others avoid this expensive mistake!”
- If you notice a mistake in the book, you’ll have to pulp all of those books and start again.
- If you move house, you’ll have to take them with you.
- What if the cover comes out too dark or light? Pulp service.
- What if you get water damage to your stock in your garage? Pulp service.
- And guess what? The pulping service is nearly as expensive as the printing service. Plus mailing costs. Peter Fisk, founder of The Genius Works reveals, “typically 40% of old books printed are pulped due to non sale.”
Reasons to go POD
- Print On Demand means that you will be able to order just a few books to proof them, and then you won’t have to buy any more books, unless you want to at a reduced cost.
- The service will send out the book as your customers purchase them straight to their address, and take a small percentage for costs. All you have to do is collect your royalties.
- If you have written a novel or non-fiction book without any high-resolution imagery, this service is for you.
- This is the easiest and cheapest way that you can sell your book on Amazon and other outlets.
- You’re saving the environment!
Reasons to go Offset
- Use offset printing when you want a better quality book, such as a special occasion book on a small run, for instance, a presentation book for a group of people, such as a wedding guest present or a church project, or when you have an art book that requires special pages or better print for photos or art.
- You can also use non-POD for hardback books.
- You can request special binding and inserts
- Quality will be higher on all aspects of the book
- Bright neon-like colors and metallics will come out “2D” and dull with CMYK profiles, i.e. the profiles used for POD printing. These are known as “spot” colors, and are usually only available when you order pre-printed books for offset printing, that is, you will have your own plates made up for printing so the printer can be calibrated and special inks added.
Bear in mind you will have to spend quite a lot of money on a run of hundreds for this service, and you will have to have storage/pre-orders/people to give your books to.