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What is POD

 
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     Print on demand (POD) refers to a complete publishing system that includes both printing on demand and distribution through physical and electronic channels. A POD system is based on digital printing technology and an information-based structure that connects the printing house to the distribution network.
   The Internet is the main means of communication in a POD system. Order processing in the network, transmission of digital content, and title information all are made via the World Wide Web by the participants in this system: the POD publishing house, printing company, and distributors. The beneficiaries of the system are book wholesalers and retailers: local bookstores, some libraries, and online bookstores. Through retailers, printed books go directly to customers, your readers.

  POD printing technology uses high-tech machines (digital printers and binders) that can produce a book quickly and with excellent graphical quality. The system’s computer receives the finished files containing your book (a PDF for the bookblock and a TIFF or PDF for the cover), and produces the book according to established technical specifications. The machine also automatically binds your book and attaches a cover, offering several options (paperback or hardback, perfect bound, saddle stitch, etc.). From a commercial point of view, the most important feature of POD machines is the ability to produce one copy of a title at the same per-unit cost as an order of several copies. One-book-at-a-time printing is an advantage for both press companies and authors submitting titles (by waiving the investment in a minimal number of print copies), as well as retailers, who can order any number of copies through their distributors, or can order one or more directly to test the sales potential of a title.

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   To download a short video showing the POD production and distribution processes, click here . 

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   The processes for transmitting information and processing orders and payments work as follows:
   The author sends the material to the POD publishing house, which creates the finished book files. The publishing house sends the order for a new title setup to the printing company (also called the aggregator), providing it with the finished files and the marketing information for that title. After title setup and the acceptance of the proof copy by the author, the title is included in the digital catalogue and the book goes into production (see the section titled Publishing steps). The distributors and some wholesalers and retailers have direct access to this catalogue, through which they order titles according to their own marketing strategies. Some distributors stock copies of the title for future sales. The other retailers use distributors' catalogues.
   The POD publishing house offers a discount (from the book’s list price) to distributors. As this discount is higher, the book is distributed to more levels (wholesalers – retailers) and has a greater chance to be stocked in inventories. In turn, the distributor offers a discount (lower) to the next distribution levels. The retailer can sell the book at less than the list price (as low as the discount of the previous level allows in order to make a profit).
   An order goes from a wholesaler or retailer to the distributor and on to the aggregator, which fulfills it by sending it to client's address. The aggregator accepts direct orders from some online retailers like Amazon. The publishing house may, in turn, order copies of its own titles in any quantity. When an order from a retailer is fulfilled:
– the retailer pays the distributor the book’s list price less the agreed discount.
– the distributor pays the aggregator the list price, less the discount offered by the publishing house.
– the aggregator pays the publishing house the list price, less the discount offered to the distributor, and the printing costs.
– the publishing house pays the author the compensation agreed in the publishing contract.

   In this process, the distributor is the main engine—it not only transmits and collects orders in and from several directions, but it also plays a part in the marketing and promotion of the titles in its catalogue. This marketing is basic, but the POD system allows the publishing house and the author to manage the marketing of the published titles. The author may use all the Internet means to promote his or her book in order to grow sales (see the section titled Distribution/Marketing).

   To see an illustration of the communication and commercial relationships between the various parts of a POD system, click here.

   POD systems have expanded quickly in the United States, capturing over 30% of the book market at present. It has also penetrated a few European countries like the United Kingdom, France and Germany and continues to expand due to its advantages over traditional publishing (see the section titled Advantages of POD).

 

 
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