The print on-demand publishing or POD may be described as a new form of content distribution enabled by new digital printing technologies. The main feature of this type of book printing is that it makes it possible for the production of few prints whenever required. In the traditional press, setting up and printing a book is a very costly affair, and therefore printing just a few copies would be a nightmare.
As a result of being able to print a small number of copies, publishers are immensely benefited. Apart from reducing the handling and storage of hard copies, POD enables printing a book as per custom requirements. Moreover publishers can now ensure that titles never go out of print. In a world where change occurs consistently at a faster pace, it is easy for content to become redundant and requiring frequent changes. POD technology help publishers to keep up with the demands of consumers.
The POD concept gradually replaced the general 500 or 1000 copies minimum requirement. These were first used for printing manuals and reports, which required less quantity and frequent revisions. It was only in the late 1990s that this technology was introduced for book printing.
The POD uses digital printing of black and white or colored prints from an information system, through a digitally controlled printing engine. The computer-to-plate-on-press and computer-to-cylinder-on-press systems are not used when the information on the cylinder cannot be changed in each rotation, corresponding with the variable content.
The digital printing system is complete only when it includes a binding system. Therefore it is not a surprise that book printing is the most advanced application of the print-on-demand technology. POD enables printing in several formats including unique formats for those with impaired vision or reading disabilities.
New authors intending to self publish have an advantage as the initial costs are less compared to self publishing using print runs. They have several advantages including editorial freedom, quick to reach the marketplace, quicker content revision and greater share of royalties.
POD books are particularly useful for niche books that have a high retail price but less sales opportunities like special academic books. These are also ideal for titles that have large sales but a less sales life like books on events or biographies of celebrities.