It used to be that, whenever a book was published, there was automatically a large quantity of 1,000 or more copies printed. All these books were then stored away in large warehouses by the publisher and/or its distributor(s). Long run printing was done because there was only one type of printer available to publishers back then: offset. An offset printing press is “old-school printing” in that it uses liquid ink, is the most cost-effective option for higher print quantities, and offers better colour control than today’s digital printers do. The downside is that offset presses cannot be used for short runs. This is because the set-up cost is far too high to print only a few copies at a reasonable price.
What is the difference between offset printing and digital printing?
Today’s publishers (and self-publishers) have more choices available to them. If you want to print 1,000+ books straightaway and pay the lowest possible cost per unit, you can still use offset printing. Alternatively, you can choose to print smaller quantities of books using two different digital printing solutions: print-on-demand (POD) and short run printing.
A digital printer is what every business has in its office. These printers use dry toner rather than liquid ink and can run smaller quantities at a cost-effective price. The turnaround time for digital printing tends to be faster than offset. This is not only because of the smaller quantities but also the quicker set-up time for each job.
The difference between the digital printer at your office and one you’ll find at a professional print shop is that the latter offers “bigger, stronger, faster” technology. Also, it is run by trained operators who know exactly which settings to use for each individual print job.
What is print-on-demand (POD) printing?
Ecommerce retailers, such as Amazon, utilize POD and short run digital technologies to sell physical books online. In other words, they won’t print and store any physical copies of your paperback book in a large warehouse anywhere. Instead, they’ll store only the digital cover and interior files that you’ve uploaded to their site. And they will print, bind, and ship only as many copies as someone buys from them at any given time. This saves you from having to print any upfront copies whatsoever. If someone buys ten copies of your book, ten copies will be printed, bound, and shipped to that buyer. If another person buys only one, then Amazon will print, bind, and ship only one—hence the term “print-on-demand.”
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