Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ingram Reduce The Cost of Colour POD

POD has not lived up to its expectation. This has been down to a number of factors, but mainly the high cost of the print and the printers. It worked fine on high ticket works such as academic monographs, whose price was high enough to absorb the rise in print cost and still make a healthy margin, but for standard fiction and reference the price was often prohibitive. The ebook market then started to become the attractive option for the self publishing market and why produce physical books that may only clutter up the garage when you can produce a virtual one that may actually generate sales. Not many talked about the environmentally unfriendly aspects of POD, but they remain today. Finally there was the realisation that POD didn’t change the distribution model to one of ‘distribute and print’, but all too often remained wedded to the old ‘print and distribute’ one. Forget colour that was just another prohibitive cost hike.

Ingram Content Group, which has dominated the international POD market, has now announced a new “standard colour” cost reduction, which makes colour POD potentially more cost viable. They are significantly reducing the cost price of a standard 6x9 trade paperback from between $12 - $13.50 to $4-$5 on a single copy run and to $3 a copy on a short run of 500. A reduction of some 60%!
Ingram are achieving the price drop by switching to new high-speed inkjet technology which will initially go live in the US and then internationally next year. They claim that any drop in print quality through the new technology is very marginal and not noticeable and that colour could open up a new option to many.

So will this change herald in a new dawn for the POD market, or just reduce the cost of colour POD and potentially brighten up some of those greyscale editions. Colour certainly will be attractive and a 60% price reduction can’t be ignored, but POD is still not delivering it potential. After all this will not impact the existing POD business and text based works. POD remains a printer in a distribution hub and not a printer in a community one. The scale and scope of economics is still centralised and Ingram are merely replacing the printer of yesterday. It most definitely will not lead to hundreds of POD community print hubs and it probably will not impact the high end quality print market.   
POD remains a half way print house in a declining print market. 

1 comment:

Michael W. Perry said...

I don't share you distaste for POD. For me, the added printing cost (stable for 12 years despite inflation), is more than made up by avoiding the hassle of inventories and warehousing, particularly when worldwide sales matter. As a small publisher, how could I maintain an inventory of books in Europe and Australia. I just wished Ingram printed in nearby Oregon.

Color at about twice the price of b&w is certainly interesting. For text books, there's not a lot of advantage. There's only a handful of colors dark enough to be easy reading.

But for children's story books well into the early teens and for technical books that need color screenshots it should be great.

It also gets Ingram/LSI one up on Amazon's CreateSpace. Like others, I don't really like seeing Amazon moving into the roles of printer and publisher as well as retailer.