Print on demand books (vs print on press)
Print on-demand books, or printing books on press. Do your research. Be knowledgeable and compare before you place your book order.
Print on-demand books, POD, is a service we provide. However, we prefer printing on press with one of our select, proven providers in Asia. Print on-demand books can mean printing on press in a short run, as well as a handful of books.
The Star Print Brokers advantage. We have more pull with vendors than any single author. That is because we print in volume. Vendors can’t afford to lose us as a client. One author with a title or two, is just not as important to the average printer. We work with just a handful of the best printers that we’ve used for years.
If you use an on-demand service, do you actually get your book into brick-and-mortar bookstores, or just have access to those bookstores? We have a secret for you. If you have your own ISBN and barcode, you already have access to brick-and-mortar bookstores. You are in the database.
If you are exploring print on-demand books, there are a number of considerations.
Is delivery included in your quote?
USA printers typically quote FOB. This means that a quote does not include delivery or shipping. It is often an additional cost. The customer picks up the cases or pallets on the printer’s loading dock. We quote with delivery to the door included, DDP, Delivered Duty Paid. Be careful that you don’t compare quotes without the delivery cost added in.
Are color proofs included?
We provide one round, a full set of color proofs, included in the quote. Sometimes only PDF proofs or black and white proofs are provided at POD providers. The definition of a press proof is a proof printed on a printing press, not output from a digital output device. It requires making plates, inking up the press and running off a page, or in our case, a signature of 8 pages or so.
If a POD provider is saying that they include a press proof with your $100 order, they don’t know what a press proof is, or is not. It is simply not cost effective. The proof would have to be a proof from a digital output device, not printed on press in signatures. It would be printed with a page or two on one sheet.
Binding methods need to compared.
We often Smyth sew bindings on soft cover books. Smyth sewing the signatures makes for a stronger binding. It also helps the book to lay flatter when open. A too tight binding is as bad as a too loose binding. Don’t forget that we are printing in signatures, or booklets of pages gathered together, not a stack of pages from an output device.
Compare paper weight and finishes.
Paper weight. We typically print on 150 gsm coated stock. That is equivalent to 100 lb text. A lighter weight stock that is printed with heavy color, and with many large photos, means more “show through”.
Paper finish. Coated stock has a clay coating. You may not be happy with uncoated stock. The ink or toner for print on-demand books soaks in. It can leave a fuzziness or halo as compared to printing on press, on coated stock.
We are experts in accurate color reproduction, and so are our printers. Printing books on press is an art. So is book design and production. We have many years of experience.
The retail price.
The price for full-color, print on-demand books should not be same as for high-quality book printed on press. POD should be cheaper, as they are not up to the same quality that we provide.
Hey, what can go wrong? We’re glad you asked!
Be careful what you wish for with print on-demand books:
Pages possibly falling out. If looking at print on-demand, are you prepared to get books coming back to you with complaints of pages falling out? POD single pages are more likely to fall out of a book. If you have a too tight binding and the reader opens the book wider to lay flat, it will break the spine, and pages could fall out.
Complaints about poor quality from buyers. When you get complaints about quality, are you prepared to have the book returned? They expect a refund. If you send the buyer another copy, you are paying a second (or third in some cases) shipping charge. Not only do you lose profit, but you also lose a copy that you’ve already paid for, which leads me to my next point …
POD reps addressing quality issues. Authors can ask for more print on demand books from the provider to replace a problem book. It’s usually not a one-off problem. When authors are ready for high-quality printing and well-bound books, they come to us for professional quality. Their print on demand books are brought to us with pages falling out. They’ve complained to their provider. I’ve seen it so many times. Authors are sent another book or books with the same problem. They may go through this exercise several times with their provider. The same thing happens.
Experience and knowledge, or the lack of … The really sad thing is that the rep they work with doesn’t know why pages fall out, or why color isn’t true. They are salespeople who probably worked for a printer at some point. We’ve been in this business for decades. Printing books is far different from printing brochures or business cards.
There is even more to consider with Print On-Demand …
Print on-demand books are fine for 1 or 2 color books, but … The quality of output for a book heavily laden with photographs will be a disappointment to savvy authors designers, and photographers.
Dealing with Reviews. Readers who write reviews can tell when a book is poor quality. If you get bad reviews posted on Amazon, this may adversely affect book sales.
Charge less for print on-demand books. Charge more for fine printing on press. Authors can charge a higher retail price for high-quality books, such as we provide. The mention of quality often shows up in book reviews too. After all, it is not only the content of a book that is being reviewed. It is the book itself.
Client support. You will get great service with us. We guarantee it, and stand behind the books we print.
- Compare apples to apples on quotes. Is delivery included? Are the specs the same?
- Get sample books that are on similar paper and similar page count. Get books that have a lot of full-color photos, if your book will have many photos.
- Wipe a moist finger across print on demand books. Toner will smear. Is that okay with you?
- As stated before, print on demand books are fine for 1 or 2-color books, provided there are no binding issues. But, if an author is publishing a photography book or a book with a lot of photos, they need to consider other options.
- Always get your own ISBN, either with Star Print Brokers, or with ISBN.org. You should be the publisher of your book, not the service provider.
In our opinion, printing on press with Star Print Brokers is the only way to go!