What Is Print-On-Demand? Detailing this Service, Products, and Costs

Print-On-Demand aka On Demand Printing or commonly referred to as just POD is one of the biggest trends that has hit the publishing scene in the last few years. For those who are unfamiliar with the trend, or have only heard of it in passing may be wondering “what is Print-On-Demand?” Print-On-Demand is a process or system that people and companies use to print small numbers or individual copies of a specific text. When companies offer this method, the texts they print are made to order. The process is usually carried out by digital technology as traditional printing methods are not as economical. It's often used for white label printing and great for reselling since it is efficient and has very low startup costs. Common industries that take advantage of print on demand services include book printing as well as custom t-shirt creation. Companies that utilize POD are those that have been specifically created for POD, small traditional presses, academic publishers, and some larger publishers in special circumstances.

Print on Demand in Book Publishing

books on conveyer beltThose who pursue writing as a career quickly find out that getting your book published isn’t always as easy as it may seem. In many cases, the book an author writes doesn’t even make it into the hands of a publisher. In the very worst cases, a book does make it to a publisher only for the thousands of copies they print to be undersold. The author ends up spending a great deal of money for copies of their book to gather dust while the publishing company they used gets to keep the rights of their out-of-print book. When an author opts for a company that does POD, the company will use digital technology to print a set number of copies for a fixed price. The average cost for small print jobs is much lower this way.

Print on Demand Shirts / T-shirts

The biggest industry with on demand printing is shirts or custom shirts. Since many people like the idea of having a clothing company or creating designs, it is VERY hot.

 Custom Shirts

Of course, with most on-demand printing services, it is easier to upload custom work of art. Even reselling custom shirts on white t-shirts is easy and very popular. Custom photo shirts add a fun dynamic and are a very popular service that makes for great gift pranks.  

Print on Demand in Other Publishing

Print-On-Demand is used for publishing beyond books. POD is often used for those who want to self-publish. Unlike conventional publishing companies that offer Print-On-Demand services, companies that offer self-publishing do not offer marketing. These companies can offer services such as editing, formatting, and proofreading though. For those who are willing to promote their book themselves, POD services are a perfect solution for you to print your book while saving money. Automating your printing orders through the use of API is the newest trend in the printing industry. Finding the right platform to integrate with is crucial to your business's success. Automating your printing orders takes out the room for error when transactions are processed on the other end of the client interface. Here is an article I wrote more recently about API and how it can help your business. print on demand slideYou can use POD to provide you with products for photographers, artists, and owners of image collections. Companies like King and McGaw use digital technology to fulfill their clients’ art orders. Print-On-Demand is also being used by companies like QooP, Peecho, Blurb, and Lulu to expand beyond authors looking to self-publish. They target ordinary citizens and tempt them to use their POD services. POD allows for anyone to print their personal writings (journals, diaries, notes, etc.), family records (family reunion reports, family trees, baby books, wedding journals, etc.), and memories. They’ve created a service that is appealing to the mass market. Print-On-Demand is also utilized in academic settings. Academic printing presses often need their texts printed in small quantities which makes the option of traditional printing uneconomic. Institutions such as archives, public libraries, and museums have quickly picked up Print-On-Demand due to its ability to access material and topics that are not available through more conventional means.

Benefits of Digital Printing

  1. It’s a process that’s small, low-cost, and upfront. Many people think that self-publishing has hidden costs but there are no unexpected expenses when you use POD. When you’re considering the cost of utilizing POD for self-publishing, you only need to worry about the price of one book and the time you put into it. You don’t have to pay obscene amounts of money to sell a single book with the use of digital printing technology. It’s possible for you to gain profit immediately from every copy sold without a major investment.
  2. Digital printing is a quicker process than traditional printing. The setup for offset printing usually takes months. The proofing, printing, and shipping take even longer. When you use POD services, you get your small order of books within just a few weeks, depending on your exact quantity. Proofing also takes less time as there are fewer books you’ll need to go through. You might need to add time if you need additional rounds of proofing but it’s still faster than the traditional option. While the process is faster, you still get amazing quality. The printers used for digital printing can often print up to 2400 dpi, providing you with precise alignment, amazing color saturation, and clarity. The process isn’t only done by a computer either, so you’ll have a worker there to ensure accuracy and quality control each step of the way.
  3. The process of digital printing is scalable. With traditional printing, you can possibly order too many copies or not enough. The amount you order is what you get for that run, meaning that once it’s sold out you cannot reorder it and immediately get more copies out. You’d have to order again, and the press will have to set up and proof all over again. You also don’t want to order too many and waste your investment. Digital printing allows you to eliminate the guesswork and risk that is associated with publishing your book. You can print as many copies as you want at the time and instantly get more if need be. This also eliminates the publisher holding the rights to your book, meaning you’ll get more of the profit.

The Bottom Line

Now when people ask, “What is print on demand?”, you can tell them how it’s a useful tool that can be used by authors and the general public alike. Keep in mind that POD services may not fit your publishing needs. In some cases, traditional printing is the way to go but, for those needing looking to save money and only need a small quantity of text printed, digital printing can get the job done. The businesses that have more volume should look to automating their printing orders with API for a more seamless transition without having humans hands touching the orders, this will ensure that a 0% chance of errors.

3 Comments
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    • Lisa Meyers

      It is a must to know the difference between the traditional printing from the digital printing that we call nowadays. On the last part of the article, you've differentiated their difference and how they are useful in different circumstances.

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      • asign

        The points that you explained is going to be much more beneficial

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