Print-on-Demand: 
Easier To Get Published, But Harder To Get Read? 

By Alexander M. Dake

 
In the New York Times of October 17, 2002, the article “You Oughta Be in Print” was published describing the pitfalls and travails of printing on demand (POD). It claimed that POD has not fundamentally changed the basic rules of publishing, and that most books published by POD publishers are neither of great quality nor very successful. While noting well-known examples of print-on-demand publishers, such as Xlibris, iUniverse and 1stBooks Library, which each charge fees for their books to be published, it concludes that POD is merely a new form of vanity publishing. 

The article quotes Mr. Milliot of Publishers Weekly: “Each year it gets easier to get published, but harder to get read. Print-on-demand may be a good inexpensive way to realize your dream, but you are not going to get on the New York Times best-seller list.” However, in that same article the New York Times’ review policy is described as reviewing books that are available only in general interest bookstores. 

For the undersigned, enough material to respond to, because we at Paraview believe the concept of print-on-demand has the potential to fundamentally change the publishing landscape. In essence, print-on-demand technology lowers the technical and financial hurdles to get published. In combination with the Internet (which now has more than 165 million users in the U.S. compared to 56 million in 1997) it opens up a way of distributing books, which was unheard of just a few years ago. And, finally, Paraview combines the best of print-on-demand as an innovative publishing tool with the traditional publishing traits of focus on subjects, quality, and editorial screening. Undersigned wrote a letter to the New York Times editor stating our views. I would like to share the content of that letter with you, which was published in the New York Times of October 23. It shows that print-on-demand is a step towards a better publishing future: 

To the New York Times Editor: 

"You Oughta Be in Print" (Oct. 17) makes the assumption that print-on-demand publishing equals vanity publishing. This is not at all true. 

Many mainstream publishers are converting their backlists to print-on-demand editions these days. And some companies, like ours, Paraview Publishing, are trying to bring out quality original works by using print-on-demand technology. Besides, the ultimate worth of a book should be judged by its quality, not the way it was printed. This makes the New York Times policy of only reviewing books that are widely available in general bookstores rather outdated and old-fashioned. Isn't Amazon.com a general bookstore? 

By printing and delivering as demand requires, there is no waste of transporting books back and forth between warehouses and bookstores. By not having to destroy up to 40 percent of the returned copies (as is the case with traditionally printed books), it is a truly efficient form of business as well as an environmentally friendly one. 

Alexander M. Dake
New York


The writer is chief executive of Paraview Publishing.
 

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