Pros and Cons of Print-on-Demand

07 May




“Currently unavailable.” When you read this on Amazon’s website you can be sure it is a POD Book.  Amazon assigns many of those out-of-stock books an availability status of 2-3 weeks. And no one wants to wait that long when ordering on the internet…

POD (Print on Demand) services call it “self-publishing” – but there are important differences between a POD service and true self-publishing. They are in fact VERY EXPENSIVE PRINTERS – NOT PUBLISHERS!  POD printers are producing the book only when ordered. What are the differences?

TRUE self-publishing:  all rights remain with the writer, who has full ownership of her work, including the ISBN number.
POD services:  mostly owns the ISBN and the author has a very limited claim on digital and/or electronic publishing rights.

TRUE self-publishing:  the writer controls all aspects of the publishing process, cover art, print style, pricing etc.
POD services:  choices are typically limited to their service package

Book Sales
TRUE self-publishing:  the author keeps all proceeds from sales.
POD services:  they keep most of the sales proceeds to cover printing costs, and pays the author a small percentage of royalty, usually from the books NET price.
The POD Cons:

  • Books from POD services are expensive and may be of poor physical quality.
  • There are lots of extra fees, such as renewal fees, distribution fees, extra charges for non-template cover designs, charges for proof corrections etc.
  • Royalty income may be less as it is mostly based on the books NET PRICE,  the retail price less discounts and/or all the publisher’s overhead.
  • Your book will receive only wholesale distribution, and mainly sold online, Booksellers don’t like dealing with POD services.
  • You do not get an advance – YOU have to pay an advance to the POD company, it just doesn’t make sense economically
  • Marketing consists often only on listing on the company’s website and with various online booksellers, sometimes in a wholesaler’s catalogue.  Many POD services offer “marketing packages or media kits” for an extra (high) fee – a total waste of money!

POD Pros:
It is only recommendable if you:

  • need galleys, or for short-run publishing and specialty markets
  • want to print small non-fiction projects such as lectures or workshops
  • want to create a recipe book, a family memoir, genealogy etc.
  • bring back out-of-print books into circulation

Who is the publisher?
It is the one who owns the ISBN for a book. If the author applied for and paid for the ISBN in his or her own name, then no matter who produces and sells the book, the author has become the publisher of record, an authentic self-publisher!

Listen to the truth behind POD “publishing” or read more articles about this topic:

Do you have any experiences with POD publishing and how much was each soft cover book you ordered from them?




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