Over the past few years, a number of publishers have trained all their attention and energy on being innovative in the digital medium so that they are able to cater better to the ever-increasing number of people who own tabs and read their books in that format. Some entities have meanwhile devised new ways to survive with print-on-demand being one of them. With this format, they are able to present their content in absolutely new ways, make their presence felt in the digital print market and also establish a link with a new generation of readers with the aim of printing books just as they would want it to.
One of the major advantages of print-on-demand is that it does away with a lot of costs that are associated with traditional printing. It also lets publishers print books within a lot less turnaround time. It reduces the time taken for the print-run. All these features and advantages have also given a lot of publishers the scope to rethink ways in which they are doing business and have given them fresh opportunities hitherto unexplored.
Present Status of Print-on-Demand Industry
The print-on-demand industry is a very popular one and its fame can be judged from the way in which it has helped many people become entrepreneurs. This does not only include writers but any creative individual such as an artist or a musician as well. Once upon a time they were not regarded as businesspeople in the conventional sense of the term but now with facilities such as self-funding, e-commerce and crowd funding, it is indeed possible for anyone to publish his or her work.
Independent writers have lapped up this opportunity. It has also had a phenomenal effect on conventional publishing industry as any person, who can write, can now publish his or her book and become the author he or she would have always hoped to be.
The fact that the expenses are rather less have also made them go for this domain rather than take a major risk by printing 1000 books at once. Previously, whenever the new writers were rejected they were left with the choice of vanity publishing. For a minimum cost of 5000 dollars they could get their manuscripts edited and published. After that they had to buy 1000 odd copies of the same, which ended up stored in their garage. These are now incidents of the past thanks to print-on-demand. It is being said by many that print-on-demand is actually playing a major role in saving the publishing industry instead of endangering it.
Clive Thompson has stated that during the 1980s when emails and computers were new kids on the block it was thought that paperwork would be extinct. Instead it led to increased usage of paper. He finds parallels with the situation surrounding print-on-demand and traditional publishing now. He feels that the common psychology is that when something becomes easier people indulge more in the same. According to Thompson, the situation will be the same with print-on-demand. The more diverse and individual presentations will only mean that more people will be reading books in the future.
Initiatives Being Taken in this Regard
Hoffman Media is a prime example. It is a publisher of lifestyle magazines such as ‘Cooking with Paula Deen’ and ‘Victoria’. Before print-on-demand, Hoffman Media had never brought out their books in the way that is being done now. The Vice President of the organization’s marketing division, Greg Baugh, feels that with this method they are able to create top-class products that are at par with their hardcover publications. Baugh was unsure of the market’s capability to handle such a product. So he opted to use print-on-demand to test the waters.
Baugh says that the method is not entirely devoid of risks but the amount of labour involved is rather negligible. Till now, Hoffman Media has only brought out 6 titles but the sales have been satisfactory. There was one advantage that Hoffman had. Its magazines already had edited content to go with some sumptuous photos. So, in order to make their content ready for such a medium they took a few steps such as removal of advertisements, fixing of pagination flow, changing of trim size and altering of table of contents
As per Baugh, all this work accounted for only four hours. The Vice President, Marketing also says that in future the company will increase its line of titles. Sourcebooks is also another important example in this regard. In 2013, FutureBooks named its CEO Dominique Raccah the ‘Most Inspiring Digital Publishing Person’. It presently has a digital version of its programme named ‘Put Me in the Story’ whereby readers are given the opportunity to customise the bestsellers, which they like the most. The organisation is in a number of partnerships with some of the finest brands for children like Sesame Street, Hello Kitty and Berenstein Bears.
SourceBooks offers an app, which parents can download and then create an ebook for their children. They can also use the print-on-demand facility and order print of books they want to own. When the programme was announced for the first time, Raccah had written an article for the New York Times. There he had said that the particular programme had a couple of important challenges – creating a very significant reading experience at bedtime for both the children as well as their parents. As a publisher they were faced with the other challenge of creating a future in the digital industry for authors who wrote books for children and illustrators who worked in these. It would seem from their success that their offerings of ebooks and customized printed versions of favourite children’s books has allowed them to meet both challenges properly.