Printing Methods: Should You Choose Print on Demand or Offset Printing?

For many authors looking to independently publish, considering the types of printing methods in which to produce your book is a critical step to holding a tangible book firmly in your hands. Print books are still the lion’s share of revenue in today’s marketplace, so having a print version of your book that is accompanied by it’s eBook counterpart is a smart business move.

Getting your print book to market, will require you to decide on the type of printing method based on your publishing and platform goals. You’ll be looking at two main printing options, both with their pros and cons. Let’s take a look.

Print on Demand

Mostly referred to as POD, print on demand printing is where your book files are kept on file with a POD vendor. Then when your book is purchased by a customer, your book is printed, packaged and sent on its way.

This means you won’t need to have thousands of books lying around your home office and instead that money can be in the bank, used for publishing your eBook version, or used for any marketing strategies. The downside is that your book can be more expensive per copy, printing one book at a time and not printing in bulk which can save on the cost per copy.

Once your book is sold you’ll receive the profit, via bank transfer or cheques in the mail. POD is a good option for you, if you have a standard sized book like a typical novel paperback.

There are many options available when selecting a POD vendor, a few are reputable and others are not. The two POD vendors I recommend are Createspace (A division of Amazon) and Lightning Source. Both these vendors will allow your book to be distributed to retailers, are great value in price and allow you to purchase physical copies for your own events.

Offset Printing

If you’re planning on publishing a unique book such as a coffee table book, with bigger pages or relies heavily on artwork, then offset printing might be more viable for you. If you’re planning to market and distribute solely to bricks n mortar stores, then an offset printer will keep costs down by printing in bulk.

The downside here is that you’ll need to contract a separate distributor as well as your printer and an initial print run of about a thousand copies will cost an average between two or three thousand dollars.

A book like this would be more expensive using the POD printing method and to reap a decent return on your investment, you would have to price your book quite high, potentially placing it out of market competition. On the other hand, if you don’t have a distribution plan in place you could end up with a stockpile of books in your home office.

Regardless which printing method you choose, you’ll need to have professional quality book files created, which you upload to your printer.

As you can see, it pays to consider the type of book you have and think ahead with your publishing and platform goals. Making the right choice up front with the different types of printing methods available, can save you a lot of heart ache, time and money later.

Printing for profit

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