Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On Demand Overtakes the Rest

We now have more US on demand and short run titles coming to market than those produced by traditional production methods. However, what does that mean and if the trend were to continue, what are the likely implications? Bowker report today that whilst traditional title production fell by 3% to 275,232, in 2008, the on demand titles rose 132%, to 285,394 and the number of titles rose 38%, to 560,626 titles. The rise in on demand follows the record increase of 462% in 2007 and since 2002, has risen 774% in comparison to a 126% increase in traditional titles.

Today on demand is not just about self publishing or keeping that back list alive and is gaining a wider publishing take up. Yesterday was very much print just in case and accepting that ‘extra special print run-on’ to reduce the unit cost. Today is more print in time, producing short print runs with the ability to quickly respond to demand if required. The long tail is getting longer, with more publishers looking at their back list, or to keep titles in print by flipping them to POD and so avoiding rights reversals. The investment is low and has long attracted self publishing authors wanting to see themselves in print. It has also worked well for high priced mongraphs whose sales are low and reasonably predictable. Some such as Cambridge University Press have proved themselves ver adept in using POD to increase revenues.

However, POD has not only helped built the Ingram Lightning Source but also help kick start the Ingram Digital Ventures. The flip from POD to ebook is but a small step and as PDF based Adobe eBooks are still the dominate format, the relationship between POD and eBook will surely grow ever stronger in many ways.

We now see new POD entrants and the production of service neutral files linked to automated formatting and distribution makes much sense moving forward.

Finally will the self publishing model now move online or ebook and away from POD, or will the lure of a printed book still seduce these authors? Whatever the direction the file once created can potentially serve both.

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