I’d like to talk today about leveraging print in a digital world and while yes, we’re not talking about ebooks—we’re talking about real physical books—we can’t really leave the electronic realm because while these are paper books, they’re digitally printed and distributed.
While the difference between offset and digital printing is getting harder to detect in the physical product, the way it changes manufacturing is worth taking a look at, and specifically, worth exploiting. So just what are these differences and how might we exploit them, well let’ s have a look: First, there are no plates, which means I don’t have to guess how much I need, I don’t have to print how much I guessed, and I don’t have to further guess if it’s going to be really big in Japan. Books can instead be printed as needed, and almost more importantly, they can be printed where they are needed. So rather than shipping to the customer, they’re printed closer to the customer, typically in the same UPS zone.
When I talk to people about how we use POD people often get confused about the various players and the particular type of platform we’re talking about so as a quick review, I’d like to go over some basics.
At this point, this might be the best way to think about these two players.
LS prints typically in their own warehouses, here in Pennsylvania, La Vergne, of course, they have a new facility in California, then over the pond to Milton Keynes, and now with Global Connect, they have partners in Brazil and Australia. It’s useful to note that those last two LS foot prints aren’t their own, but instead use established players in those territories, and then forging new partnerships like their Direct Channel partners in the English speaking territories. Amazon, on the other hand, probably doesn’t have print capacity in most, if any of their warehouses, (maybe in the spate of new ones?) instead relying on large scale regional printers and negotiating long and short term partnerships created when and where capacity is needed. This doesn’t always work as is occasionally evident when parts of a season are particularly busy, like textbook season, or the holidays. This last couple of years, however, seem to indicate that they have worked many of those problems out. You could think of Amazon as fairly large Web properties across the globe, who have super-secret printing and distribution capacity everywhere—and they know where we live, and have almost everyone’s credit card information. So, a really great ROI is possible for their CreateSpace partners, vs. say, their Advantage partners.
It’s worth noting that this analysis not only evaluates our POD strategy, it also evaluates another unusual strategy we tried. Since our art books couldn’t be included in the POD program, we also moved those to a separate international distributor in 2009. Also, the drop between 2011 and 2012 is probably more likely related to a hopefully temporary 20% drop in new titles for for that year.
Notify Author, we do this with our author spam, sent to new authors upon publication, but it Make a postcard Bring it to conferences Give it to people Profit!
Very complex. Remove barcode and upload new cover file to LS.
Market Leakage, refers to books from the UK crossing the ocean, so pricing must discourage this. Your territorial distributor must be willing to go non-exclusive, or at the very least, allow sales through POD CreateSpace, nee BookSurge, has created a kludgee interface with publishers. Currently territories are indicated through marking a Y or N on a spreadsheet. But even that doesn’t always work. They have no idea why. *Surprised Face* Also, you risk Amazon getting confused about the record, and even if CreateSpace takes the POD edition off the market, Amazon could list the POD as Temporarily out of stock, at least until you turn it on in that market. This, obviously, does not benefit individual consumer hardcover sales. But if your hardcover is very expensive (for the library market) that may not really matter.
Print in the Digital Age
Printin aDigital World
Digital/Inkjet PrintingNo plates.Instead, files, which can be sent electronically.This also means one-offs are possible.No warehousingNon-sequential printing.No, or reduced, international and intra-nationalshippingWhy ship books when you can transfer a file and thenprint close to the customer?
Kinds of PODHow they PrintSRDP (really just humble digital printing)One-offs (True POD, both with toner and inkjet)How they DistributeDirect Channel Partners (Lightning Source)Drop shippingPrint in warehouseDistributed Printing (or Freelance/Contract Printing)
Direct Channel Partners(Lightning Source)&Distributed Printing(Amazon/CreateSpace)
Direct Channel Partners: US VersionDirect Channel Partners: US Version
Direct Channel Partners: UK VersionDirect Channel Partners: UK Version
Direct Channel Partners: Australia VersionDirect Channel Partners: Australia Version
(Near)Death of the Split RunLibrary Market vs. Adoptions, Individuals, AuthorsPricing for market—specifically, for institution orstudent or general reader.Cake—Now, also available with the eating of said cake,all for one low unit cost!AdoptionsGalleysContributors
EU/UK Sales Growth14.14% Increase in Units14.14% Increase in Units15.21% Increase in Net $15.21% Increase in Net $
Why Net $?ShippingWholesaler cut (When CreateSpace edition is sold)Foreign distributor cutUnit cost very close to offset for the majority of the list,but only POD subtracts printing cost before net $. Abetter analysis would also subtract printing costs tooffset sales net $ in 2008, making the increase evenhigher.CreateSpace on the most important parts of the list caneliminate the need of the so-called “Amazon Advantage”program.
Marketing1. Notify Author2. Make a postcard3. Bring it to conferences4. Give it to people5. Profit!
Problems with the ModelMarket Leakage (Kirtsaeng)Requires International Distributor Non-exclusivityCreateSpace/Excel Interface (You guys are a tech giant,right?)Amazon Marketplace Über Alles!!!Ayn Rand might be running this part of Amazon’s site.Upsets textbook chains and textbook Web sites.Maybe not a bug but a feature.A very hands-on process. Hard to automate Early Adopter.Doesn’t Scale. Better for small or mid-sized presses.