POD: Part 1 – What It Is

At a recent Weekend Writers Cafe at Grow Your Writing Business, Genesis of At Home Mom Blog asked this question:

What do you think of using POD publishers? Which ones are good?

I pointed out that I wrote a little about POD in the Self-Publishing Primer but promised to write more about it. This is a topic of both great interest and great confusion to many writers.

POD stands for Print on Demand, sometimes called Publish on Demand.

It is simply a printing method, digital technology that enables a single book to be printed and bound very quickly. The unit cost is higher than other printing methods for medium to large quantities. However, small print runs (and even printing individual books) are feasible, and the unit cost is less for small quantities. You can read a case study at Foner Books Print on Demand.

Large commercial publishers, small press publishers, and self-publishers all use POD, but it’s often used by so-called POD publishers. Some call themselves self-publishing POD companies. However, they are really subsidy publishers, and some are probably vanity publishers. If you self-publish, the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is assigned to you (in the name of the publishing company you establish). If the ISBN for your book is assigned to another company, that someone is the publisher, not you.

You may decide that subsidy publishing is the best publishing method for you and your book, but make sure you base your decision on accurate information and a real understanding of the publishing industry. Don’t be misled into believing that you are self-publishing if you are, in fact, subsidy publishing.

You will find pros and cons of various kinds of publishing in the Self-Publishing Primer. In the next two installments in this series, we’ll assume you have made a choice. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of POD for self-publishing authors in the next post, then about the pros and cons of using a POD subsidy publisher.

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