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Old 10-15-2010, 04:14 AM   #1
Fbone
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First experience purchasing print-on-demand book

A friend of mine recently wrote and published a small book (120pgs) that is available through B&N and Amazon only as print-on-demand. I went to B&N to order it last Thursday night the 7th. List price was $25.00 with additional 10% off. It was printed in Tennessee on Friday the 8th and shipped UPS the same day. I received it Tuesday 12th which was the next business day. Whole process from order to delivery took 2 business days. It is a quality hardcover.

There has been talk of retailers and publishers using POD to save money and increase efficiency and if my satisfied experience is typical, then it may have a positive future.

PS: Sadly, my friend died of ALS a couple of weeks before publication.
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:04 PM   #2
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Congrats on the book, & my condolences for the loss of your friend.
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Old 10-16-2010, 12:20 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fbone View Post
A friend of mine recently wrote and published a small book (120pgs) that is available through B&N and Amazon only as print-on-demand. I went to B&N to order it last Thursday night the 7th. List price was $25.00 with additional 10% off. It was printed in Tennessee on Friday the 8th and shipped UPS the same day. I received it Tuesday 12th which was the next business day. Whole process from order to delivery took 2 business days. It is a quality hardcover.

There has been talk of retailers and publishers using POD to save money and increase efficiency and if my satisfied experience is typical, then it may have a positive future.

PS: Sadly, my friend died of ALS a couple of weeks before publication.
Great about the book, so sad about the friend. At least he lives on in his work!

I, too, have been impressed with the quality of POD volumes. They're more expensive, but much higher quality than the average grocery store paperback. Too, if the author/publisher cares enough about his work, POD lends itself to easy revision when errors are found.

--Maria
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Old 10-16-2010, 01:45 AM   #4
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Do you know which machine it was printed on? I've heard of Jason Epstein's Espresso Book Machine, and I wonder if you may have a book from it.
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:47 AM   #5
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Thanks for the kind words. He wrote the book using his last working finger then went on to use his foot for a few short stories.

Slow Rain, I'm sorry it doesnt say what device was used. I'll email the publisher and ask them.
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Old 10-16-2010, 05:39 AM   #6
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Please don't think I'm being at all callous here, Fbone. I really really do sympathise with the loss of a close friend. But I was hugely touched by the simple paragraph in your post above.

I hope your friend's publisher knows of his brave struggle to complete this book in his final days. It makes for a beautiful story in itself that would have a huge impact and guarantee increased readership if properly exposed, which is what I guess your friend wanted -- to leave something behind that the very largest number of people could experience.

Very best wishes. Neil

PS: Please check your PMs for a personal note I just sent. N

Last edited by neilmarr; 10-16-2010 at 05:49 AM. Reason: to add ps
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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Thanks for this thread, Fbone. I've wondered about POD, but this is the first real world experience that I have read about. Pricey book, I thought, but then, you said it was a quality hardback, so perhaps not so pricey after all.
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Old 10-16-2010, 05:51 PM   #8
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Sorry to hear about your friend.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:04 PM   #9
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My novel is available POD through Amazon's self-pub portal, Createspace, as not everyone I know has an ebook reader. So far, all my sales have been to myself. It costs me about $4.60 per book, plus the $39 'Pro' fee to get it down to that level. The break-even on printing costs I figure at 11 books, and I'll probably give away or sell that many to friends and acquaintances.

The book retails for $6.50 on Amazon, of which I get 5 cents. Amazon gets the printing costs *plus* 40% of the list price (which includes the printing costs, so they get 140% of the printing costs, oy).

I get way more from the 99 cent ebook than from the paperback.

It is a nice looking book, though. Everyone who's seen it is surprised, so I can't complain about the quality.
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Old 10-16-2010, 09:40 PM   #10
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Give how against in store POD the big 5 are, I really don't see anything like that happening anytime soon. But then again, it may reach a point where big stores like B&N become little mom and pops and all tree books become POD in order to cut costs and keep the pbook market alive and profitable. If anyone ends up doing it first, I see B&N doing it. Of course, IMHO, publishers in general would be fools NOT to go with the system. For one, it would give instant availability to their entire out of print catalog (well, those they can legally reprint and sell anyways) at nearly zero cost to themselves.

A well run POD bookstore system would actually be cost effective for bookstores, and for publishers. 1) publishers wouldn't need to print pbooks anymore, and 2) bookstores wouldn't need to carry any stock. They just setup a bunch of terminals and let people pick out which ones they want and purchase/print right there. For books which will sell a LOT of copies, such as with big authors, special small print runs could be done in the stores in advance of opening in order to meet demand without tying up all the machines for most of the day printing just one book. ^_^

But alas, the big five sure as heck won't go for it, even if it is the most awesome idea ever. It's likely going to require all the small houses going to this new system and whipping the pants off the big guys before they'll get a clue and change.
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
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They just setup a bunch of terminals and let people pick out which ones they want and purchase/print right there.
Oh, man, I never thought of POD that way. I always thought of it as something you'd order online and have shipped to your house. That idea of the store with the machines is really cool. Back in the day before ebooks, I would often find books I wanted online and then order them from bookstores (either online or in person). I hated waiting for the book to be delivered, and sometimes, would lose interest or find a better one by the time it arrived. If I could've have gotten the instant gratification of a POD store right in my town...I'd be broke!

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Old 10-17-2010, 10:13 AM   #12
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Well, there are two types of POD out there. 1) The traditional kind that we all know about and associate with vanity publishers, and 2) Jason Epstein's Espresso Book Machine, which creates nearly instant books on demand (IE, POD) just by asking. It's the latter one I'm thinking of. Another advantage, which again the big houses refuse to see, is that these POD book machines can be put anywhere, allowing people to pick up books anywhere one of these machines is, and they don't need to be at a bookstore to do it. The potential sales from this are mind blowing. Which, given that, makes you wonder just how dense the big houses really are.
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:49 PM   #13
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Hmm.. Why do I feel like I'm standing in a corridor on Babylon 5, waiting to get my daily
paper? (I wish those two in front of me would quit flirting and get their papers already!)

Luck;
Ken
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:13 PM   #14
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I'm sorry to hear about your friend - but having a book out at least makes some of their thoughts immortal.

Speaking as someone who has managed a bookstore and worked for a POD outfit; the biggest problem POD has is that it has no economy of scale.

Ten thousand POD books cost ten thousand times as much to run off as one POD book. The printer may charge you less per, but it's cutting into their profit margin to do it.

Traditional offset printing has massive economies of scale - and that makes a huge difference.

There's also been a huge increase in the quality of POD books over the last few years. Ten years ago they were all trade paperbacks and notably lower quality than what you got from an offset press - now they're good quality books.

I still don't recommend them as a first choice - they're either overpriced in comparison to major publisher books or the author has cut their profit margin down to almost zero - but at least the product is reasonable now.

I recently bought a POD hardcover through LULU (a game rule book) and was pleasantly surprised.
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Lake View Post
Give how against in store POD the big 5 are, I really don't see anything like that happening anytime soon. But then again, it may reach a point where big stores like B&N become little mom and pops and all tree books become POD in order to cut costs and keep the pbook market alive and profitable. If anyone ends up doing it first, I see B&N doing it. Of course, IMHO, publishers in general would be fools NOT to go with the system. For one, it would give instant availability to their entire out of print catalog (well, those they can legally reprint and sell anyways) at nearly zero cost to themselves.

A well run POD bookstore system would actually be cost effective for bookstores, and for publishers. 1) publishers wouldn't need to print pbooks anymore, and 2) bookstores wouldn't need to carry any stock. They just setup a bunch of terminals and let people pick out which ones they want and purchase/print right there. For books which will sell a LOT of copies, such as with big authors, special small print runs could be done in the stores in advance of opening in order to meet demand without tying up all the machines for most of the day printing just one book. ^_^

But alas, the big five sure as heck won't go for it, even if it is the most awesome idea ever. It's likely going to require all the small houses going to this new system and whipping the pants off the big guys before they'll get a clue and change.
Steve:

I absolutely agree with you. The current paper book system simply cannot survive -- there is too much cost and waste in the system with larger than needed print runs, returns, shipping, etc.

B&N and Borders are in serious financial trouble and don't seem to be making any headway with their brick and mortar stores.

Plus the current system of "big chain orders 5,000 books...and then returns 4,999 for credit three months later" is just certain death for smaller presses.

I love physical bookstores and I love having printed books...I think the only way the industry can survive is to go to the "boutique store" method above -- sure, there will always be a handful of "big box stores" I suppose, but I think the smaller stores will become the norm (again):

In many markets, smaller stores, comparable in size to the old Waldenbooks/B Daltons or typical Indie book store. The store probably only carries a couple of thousand titles, the titles that are guaranteed to sell.

A good chunk of the store is the cafe/lounge -- the idea is, "come in, get your drink and snack and browse for what you want." (Many people will use their existing ebook reader, laptop, smartphone, tablet if they have it with them, but there will be plenty of "loaner" browsing devices to go around.)

When you find something you want, you can buy and have it directly downloaded to your ebook device of choice but the really interesting option is you can buy a printed version -- then the dedicated ebook printers in the back go to work, printing out an "on demand" copy in a few minutes.

(I know most people are thinking of the Espresso Book Machine but the technology is still pretty finicky -- I don't see any reason you couldn't just use a business-quality high-volume laser printer and have the clerks in the back handbind the books with Gorilla Glue).

It's a great deal for everyone:

The publisher gets a sale with no printing, warehousing, shipping or return costs.

The bookstore gets a sale with no shipping or shelving or return costs. Huge savings on rent because the stores are physically much smaller. Plus the bookstore can position itself as "We have every book in the world -- in stock, in your hands in minutes."

And the reader gets presumably decent pricing and instant delivery of books instead of waiting a couple of days for a book to be mailed to them.

Naturally, the publishing industry would fight this business model tooth and nail because they'd have to come up with a secure means of protecting their content and monitoring printed copies...and well, it makes sense.

But it would be a great way for publishers and brick and mortar book stores to compete with ebooks.

Not only that, this model would enable the "bookstore boutique" to survive in smaller communities where the major chain stores cannot survive. I can see these smaller stores becoming as commonplace as McDs...well not quite, but you get the idea. (Or maybe some brilliant exec at McDs, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or another large chain would add on the the "bookstore" model to an existing food/cafe chain).
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