The Kindle is awesome; EBooks are awesome. The digital world loves them. And our society is a digital world. So does that mean we have no use for printed books anymore? That dead tree books really are dead? It seems like a perfectly logial conclusion. That as the years go on, printed books will become more and more obsolete until they’re completely antiquated.
Not so fast. While the publishing world certainly has experienced a blow due to the popularity of eBooks, it’s not going out of business anytime soon. It just means that publishing has new technology to compete with, and as a result they need to reevaluate their own technology and come up with a way to modernize. Introduce print on demand (POD), and printed books are given a new weapon for the battle.
POD vs. Traditional Publishing
With traditional publishing, books had to be printed in batches of hundreds or thousands of copies at once. With POD’s new digital printing advances, it’s possible to print as many – or as few – copies as are needed and only when they’re needed. POD gives authors a new way to minimize costs and maximize profits. No more sitting on hundreds of copies of a book hoping it sells and taking a hit if it doesn’t. POD allows many self-publishing authors a chance to compete in the world of printed books. With so many writers able to publish their books without needing the backing of a huge publishing house, it reenergizes the printed book market by infusing it with new voices and choices. With traditional publishing, oftentimes only proven successful authors would be given a chance because they represented low risk for publishers.
Cutting Out the Middle Men
POD also brings about an entirely new business model. With traditional publishing, books go through a long chain, from author to agent to publisher to manufacturer to distributer to wholesaler to retailer to customer. With POD, it’s possbile for a single book to go from author to manufacturer to retailer. The implications of cutting out all those middle men is huge. For one thing, POD increases profits for the author because many fewer mouths are expecting a piece of the pie. On the other hand, POD threatens the long-standing business model of the publishing world. It shakes things up, and lots of agents and major publishers may feel threatened and worry that they’ll eventually be obsolete, too. However, they needn’t worry. While self-publishing with POD does take away the direct need for agents and major publishers, it doesn’t make their support of a book any less valuable.
The Bottom Line
With eBooks stealing some of the thunder of traditional publishing, POD is a much-needed technological and philosophical advancement that breathes new life into the very soul of reading – the physical, tangible, printed book. While eBooks may be awesome, they can’t replace the appeal and comfort of printed books. POD makes it possible for that appeal to still be relevant and cost-effective for publishers and authors. Dead tree is far from dead; dead tree is alive and kicking.