Bards Lost in The Metaverse Episode 26 - Print On Demand
This week Sharn and Andy deep dived into the world of Print on Demand (POD) services. They explored what exactly POD is, highlighted some of the top service providers in the market, and discussed the many benefits that indie authors can enjoy.
But first, the News with Sharn
In Web3 and tech new this week:
In Colombia, a local judge has recently conducted a court hearing in the metaverse, marking a significant experiment with the technology. While many believe that the metaverse will reshape our social lives, the use of digital reality in important societal moments, such as court cases, remains unclear. Although Zoom sessions have worked for court hearings, the in-person subtleties, biases, and cues that can impact trials are not picked up remotely, especially behind a metaverse avatar. The future of metaverse court hearings is dependent on the mass adoption of augmented or virtual reality by the public, and there is currently a growing community of legal professionals familiarizing themselves with Web3 technologies. As the use of the metaverse continues to expand, it remains to be seen how this technology will shape the legal industry and its proceedings.
In a surprising move, Mark Zuckerberg seems to have abandoned his ambitious metaverse project, instead redirecting his attention towards artificial intelligence (AI). The shift in focus is an attempt to avoid acknowledging that he was wrong about the metaverse, while also reflecting the immense potential of AI to revolutionize technology for both consumers and businesses. In the short term, Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook) will focus on building creative and expressive tools for AI, while also developing AI personas that can help people in a variety of ways in the long term. This new focus on AI may help Meta to overcome the losses incurred by Reality Labs (who recorded a cumulative loss of nearly $24 billion in 2021 and 2022) and provide new opportunities for the company.
Moving now to the world of Publishing:
In an interview with NY Post, R.L. Stine has denied claims that he "sanitized" his classic Goosebumps books to appeal to a "woke" audience. The 79-year-old horror author accused his publisher, Scholastic, of altering his work without his knowledge. Scholastic responded by stating that they reviewed the text to keep the language current and avoid imagery that could negatively impact young readers' mental health. However, they did not respond to Stine's claim that he was unaware of the changes made to his books. In light of the recent news about changes made to books by Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming, some industry commentators are now suggesting that publisher edits to original works are a strategic attempt to protect their intellectual property and ensure its long-term value.
A bit of a mix of publishing and tech news for this next one. We have some exciting developments to report in the local Australian NFT Book marketplace. Australian-based NFTBooks has recently launched their NFTBooks platform and has migrated their systems to the Ploygon blockchain. Their platform aims to empower authors through self-publishing and income optimization while providing readers with easy and affordable access to books. Additionally, NFTBooks allows readers to earn token rewards simply by reading. As a developing local platform, we will continue to monitor their progress closely, especially in the lead up to releasing by entire book.
And that my friends, was news with Sharn.
Onto the episode!
First up, what is Print on Demand?
Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology and business process in which book copies (or other documents, packaging or materials) are not printed until the company receives an order, allowing prints of single or small quantities. While other industries established the build to order business model, "print on demand" could only develop after the beginning of digital printing, because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.
Many traditional small presses have replaced their traditional printing equipment with POD equipment or contract their printing to POD service providers. Many academic publishers, including university presses, use POD services to maintain large backlists (lists of older publications); some use POD for all of their publications. Larger publishers may use POD in special circumstances, such as reprinting older, out-of-print titles, or for test marketing.
What is Offset Printing vs Print On Demand?
The rise of print-on-demand (POD) has made publishing more accessible and efficient for independent writers. Offset printing (which is a commercial printing process commonly used by major publishers) required large print runs and high fixed costs, which posed a financial burden for indie authors who weren't guaranteed to sell thousands of copies. This often resulted in storage issues and additional costs for warehousing. However, digital printing and POD have eliminated the need for large print runs, allowing new authors to see their work come to life quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively.
How does Print on Demand Work?
Print on demand is a process where a copy of a book is printed only when a customer orders it. Independent authors usually use two main book distributors: KDP, which is linked to Amazon, and Ingramspark. To create a print on demand book, the author uploads an interior file and a cover file to the distributor's system. When a customer orders a book, the distributor sends an order to the closest book printer to the delivery address. The printer prints one copy and sends it directly to the customer.
What are some of the Print on Demand Services?
Here are a few print on demand companies to check out:
IngramSpark is part of Ingram Content Group, which has a distribution network that reaches beyond the internet into physical bookstores, academic institutions and libraries, and it is one of the most popular print on demand companies out there. They’ll connect you to over 40,000 libraries, retailers, and e-commerce companies, which means it’s a huge help when it comes to distribution. IngramSpark’s print-on-demand service does not supply directly to the end-user, ie the reader. Instead, it sends its catalogue to the book distributors and wholesalers from whom retailers, libraries and academic institutions can order books. The cost of uploading a book to print on Ingramspark is $49 (USD), which includes the ebook version. Ingramspark also gives you some options as far as formatting goes, which offers some customizability. And they do Graphic Novels 🙂 Ingramspark by far has the most printing locations that includes the US, UK, Australia, then via partnerships most of Europe, India, Russia, China, & South Korea, and this is always growing.
We talked alot about Draft to Digital last week but we’re talking about them again as they have a D2D Print service. If you use this service, your published book will be listed as in-stock through online booksellers; and, when your reader purchases your book, only then will it be printed and shipped. Your D2D Print book will be made available to Amazon and to all distribution channels served by Ingram, including Barnes and Noble and most independent bookstores in the US.
Acutrack is the book printer and book fulfillment service ideal for self-publishers with an eye on profits and outstanding customer service. They offer a variety of different options for your book and they let you order anywhere from 1-1000 copies at a time, making the process super customizable. They also integrate the book into whatever storefront you use, allowing for easier distribution.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
KDP is perhaps the most popular and widely-used print on demand publisher, and it’s easy to see why. It’s extremely user-friendly for self-published authors. Not only will Amazon give you a free ISBN with your paperback sale (amazon ISBN as we learnt last week), but this will also allow you to use their Expanded Distribution Network, which allows other companies like stores and schools to order copies of your book. They’ll have your book ready between twenty-four and forty-eight hours, and if you haven’t created your own manuscript, they have templates for authors to use.
Interestingly, Amazon itself is one of Ingram’s biggest customers. If you tick Expanded Distribution in KDP, the reader’s purchase is likely to be fulfilled by Ingram. Amazon also uses Ingram publishing services to produce paperbacks for many of Amazon’s publishing imprints. As a self-publishing author, you have the option to go direct to IngramSpark instead. Current printing locations for KDP includes US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Japan, and they have a fulfillment centre in Western Sydney.
Unlike many other companies, Lulu lets you print hardcover books as well as paperback. They also offer a huge variety of book formats, like yearbooks, comics, or novels. This versatility means authors can make their books much more personalized, and it gives the author more say in how the book turns out. You’ll be able to sell on Amazon, but it takes a little longer for Lulu to get your book ready than Amazon does. Benefit of Lulu is that it can be integrated with shopify stores, so if you want to sell direct from your own store, this may be a good option to explore. Lulu also has printing locations in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, and Netherlands.
Bookbaby - POD program
Bookbaby is also a great option for self-published authors, but it might be better for self-published authors with an established platform and some cash to invest in their production. The cost for using Bookbaby is a bit steeper than other platforms, and they allow print-to-order after an initial order of twenty-five books. This means you have to order twenty-five books first before print-to-order comes into play. They have two different POD programs on offer, one is more expensive and makes your book available on major retailer sites along side your ebooks, the other only has the bookbaby store front but is cheaper. Currently only has US based printing locations.
Others to check out include:
The Book Patch
Espresso Book Machine
What are some of the misconceptions or concerns about print on demand for independent authors:
Independent Bookstores Won’t Carry POD Authors:
Truth - Bookstore owners may not stock print on demand (POD) self-published books as readily due to pressure from online sellers and the limited shelf space reserved for titles with a history of sales or a clear marketing plan. However, bookstores like knowing that titles are always available should they need to order more, making books published with POD services more appealing as they have significant inventory levels and are printed as orders are placed.
Distributors Don't Carry POD Authors:
Truth - Distributors may prefer to work with publishers, but will make exceptions for popular POD titles. Authors can market their books to customers who purchase through wholesalers.
POD Books Aren’t Good Quality:
Truth - The quality of POD books is equal to any other printing process. Authors can request samples to see for themselves.
The Cost to Print on Demand is Too High
Truth - The per book cost for POD may be slightly higher, but authors don't have to print, warehouse, or ship hundreds or thousands of books upfront, and can easily correct errors.
There is a Limited Number of Trim Sizes Available with POD:
Truth - Most POD companies have a variety of trim sizes available for both paperback and hardcover books. Authors should choose a POD company that fulfills their needs. Ultimately, authors and publishers should evaluate their options and choose what works best for them.
What are the benefits of Print on demand (POD) services:
Lower upfront costs: Traditional publishing requires authors to print a large number of books upfront, which can be costly. With POD, books are printed only when an order is received, eliminating the need for a large upfront investment.
Reduced risk: Since there's no need to invest in a large print run upfront, authors and publishers can reduce their risk of losing money on unsold books.
Faster turnaround times: POD books can be printed and shipped quickly, allowing authors and publishers to get their books into the market faster.
Customization: POD services allow for easy customization of book content, cover design, and formatting to meet individual author or publisher preferences.
Availability: POD books can be printed and shipped from anywhere, making them readily available to customers worldwide.
Options for authors: With Print on Demand you can still stock some of your own books for things like book fairs and Cons where you want to get out amongst the people to sell your books in person.
Overall, print on demand services offer a more cost-effective, flexible, and efficient approach to book publishing compared to traditional publishing methods, and makes physical copies of books a viable possibility for independent authors.
Authors must be aware though, even though these POD services make printing and distributing physical copies of books easier, authors will still need to prepare their books for print on demand including formatting inline with specific requirements, ensuring quality covers designed for physical copy books, and editing. Authors will also need to market and promote their POD book to drive sales such as using social media, book reviews, and or even book giveaways.
Sharn and Andy then wrapped up with a discussion about whether they care about having a physical copy of their books? If so Why?
Sharn: Yep. The smell. I want to sniff my book. Jokes. I think it’s mostly about product diversification and ensuring I meet the demand of consumers. I am personally a reader that loves a hardcopy version of books, and so I want to make sure my book is also available in hardcopy for readers who want it in that format.. It will also be pretty cool to one day see a copy of my book on an actual bookshelf.
Andy: While I too am a little bit of a weirdo and thoroughly enjoy the smell of a bookstore. That's not the reason I want to have a copy of my books. Even though I am all about tech and Web3 etc there is still something so magical about holding and owning books. After I have become a multi NY times bestseller and am the richest author ever i will 100% have a personally designed Library in my mega mansion :)
As always, we have a lot to do and a lot more to learn. Hope you all have fun following along as we improve our understanding and knowledge!
You can find this podcast episode (and all our other episodes) here: https://anchor.fm/invokecreations , or directly on your favourite streaming services.
NOTE: Everything discussed during the podcast is simply our own interpretation of information we come across as we research topics, or is commentary based on our own personal experiences. We highly encourage everyone to conduct their own research into topics of interest as information, especially in the technical space, changes regularly.
Music track featured this week was titled Dapper Day and can be viewed/listened to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkmLh3HgeX0
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