Some numbers from an on-demand publisher…

The article Publishing Renaissance by Allison Randal, over at the O’Reilly Radar, is a fascinating read. She describes how her press was able to publish its first book — helpfully, she gives actual numbers:

Print-on-demand technology allows individual books to be printed as they’re ordered, and shipped directly to the purchaser. The technology has developed to the point that the quality of a print-on-demand book is equal to the quality of a traditional printed book. This style of publishing is cheap. You generally pay a small set up fee, and then have no other expenses until the book actually sells, and then only pay for the printing. (The printing cost is about $1 per copy higher than a traditional printer at high volume, and cheaper than a traditional printer at low volume.) It cost me well under my goal of $1k to produce Gravitas from start to finish. With all this power at their fingertips, publishers could experiment much more freely with low risk.

She’s very clear on the point that the advantages publishers bring are in marketing and distribution. She also remarks on the larger pattern here:

We’re already seeing a democratization of online media, where blogs and wikis grow to be more frequent sources of information than “professional” media companies. It’s good to see a similar process in more durable media.

Further evidence, I think, that the separation of creation from distribution is really beginning to settle in…

1 Comment on "Some numbers from an on-demand publisher…"

  1. This is very interesting. I guess that in the future “traditional” publishing companies will have to change quite a lot and offer writers much more than just the finacial support. In Sweden (where I live) the finacial support for writes has almost been synonymous with one single (giant) company. Now, that the need for purely financial support is fading this company is starting BUYING literature blogs. Recently the popular Svensk bok was bought and the this raised the question whether the publishing industry is arming for a desperate-toned kind of war as the movie industry seem to run. Of course, it’s always hard to know how probable and severe this could get but there has already been talks about antitrust-legislation.

    It’s understandable though. No publishing company wish for “Straight-to-Amazon” book releases =)