Defending Print-on-Demand

Happy New Year!

Jim West’s defense of print-on-demand (HT: Biblical Studies Carnival LVIII) is worth reading.

I would extend it further. Print-on-demand is a technology, not a philosophy of publishing. At Energion, I use print-on-demand for all print publishing. We just sold out our last print-run (5,000 copies of Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God?) and will issue the new edition via print-on-demand. Over the next five years I expect that to become a much more common practice as electronic editions. My long-term goal for my company is to issue print and electronic editions simultaneously for all releases. Print-on-demand will allow me to offer print editions for a very small market when the majority of sales are electronic. Print-on-demand allows very fine inventory control, and makes it profitable to keep good titles in print long after the initial rush.

Energion also does not charge authors under of primary imprint. We do offer a paid publishing option under our EnerPower Press imprint. I have nothing against paid publishing. Right now we are working on our second title under that imprint, a dissertation. The author found it more economical to do paid publishing with us that to order a few copies from a university press.

I expect our paid publishing operation to remain fairly small because normally if we reject a manuscript because we think it’s junk, we don’t want it there either. The only reason I will suggest our paid publishing option to a customer is if they want to bet against me–I think it won’t sell, and the author thinks it will (or doesn’t care if it makes a profit).