Of course publishing a book, is for the most part very expensive, as it requires or at least it used to; typesetting and for several thousands of copies of the book in question to be printed with absolutely no guarantee that any were going to sell. This because the cost of printing was so high that it really did not pay to print any less then a certain number, as the cost of printing for instance one hundred copies was almost the same as printing 2000.
This was the way it was till “print on demand” came along. Now, some may ask what this system is and how does it work? Well, this is a basically simple system which pretty much explains itself, where a book is published but no copies of the book are actually printed until orders have been made for the book. So what we are looking at is a system in which the book in question is digitally stored, and the publisher need not print any copies until they have received orders for the book, which must be paid in advanced. This system even making it possible for one copy to be printed at a cost per unit not much higher then if 1000 had been printed.
All of this has made publishing much easier and cheaper for the publisher, who is not only relieved of the burden of having to print copies which might not be sold but also of having to pay for storage for those copies, which might stay around for a long time. Of course the author benefits from this as well as he or she is able to have his or her book published very cheaply, for as low as 599 USD, such as was the case with me and my publisher iUniverse. They being the ones who in May of 2008 published my first book, naturally paid for by my money entitled “New York’s Opera Society” which is selling quiet well on Amazon and other major internet bookstores. This due to the fact that these self publishers apart from publishing one’s book also advertise it on all the major online bookstores.
Perhaps all this sounds so good that there can not possibly be a downside, yet like with all things there is and I am not even referring to the fact that one does not get paid to have one’s book published but on contrary has to pay for this to happen. After all the amount is not all that much or the fact that one is running all the risk by having one’s book published this way should it turn out that the book does not sell well but the following one.
The system of “print on demand” is one that leaves a lot of room for cheating on the part of the publisher, simply because there is no way to know for sure how many copies of a book have been sold. For instance there are no printed books so what happens is a publisher receives an order for 10 copies of the book along with payment for those books and delivers them. Everybody is happy or so it seems. The publisher delivered ten books and even got paid before hand, the retailer or wholesaler or perhaps even final client got the book or books he or she paid for but what about the author? What way has he or she of knowing that such a sale even took place, after all what proof is there? The publisher may claim that such a sale never took place and who is to say it did? Is the author expected to go looking through out the world for copies of his or her book, to see how many have been sold? Is the buyer of the book obliged to inform the author that they have just purchased his or her book?
In all this I could also mention, that if there is little control over books sold this way, then there is absolutely no control for E-books sold in PDF format, for these are not even copies that require printing but electronic versions of the book that are sent via the internet. All of which creating a situation that makes it even more difficult to prove that the sell of the book ever took place or that money was exchanged; as there is not even the trace of a parcel company being used but an email that was sent from the publisher to the customer with the book on it. We could easily classify these sales as those that can not be proven or disproven.
With the old system, which was much more expensive; at least it was easier to account for sales. This given that a certain number of copies were printed, let’s say 1000 and all the author had to do is count how many books from this 1000 were missing which would be the number of books he or she had sold. This however with the system of “print on demand” is not possible because copies can be printed and sold without the author having anything to count or with his or her ever knowing how many copies of his or her book were sold, which basically leaves the author at the merci of a publisher’s honesty or perhaps lack of which as has been my case with iUniverse.
That however is another issue but what I will say for now is that when searching for a self publisher; authors should be very careful of the print on demand system because it really is one that can be taken advantage of and not always to the benefit of the author but of a dishonest publisher. Some self publishers will say that they allow their authors to see, via an account they create for themselves on their website; how many copies of their book are being sold but then again this website and the numbers on it are put up by the publishers themselves and by no means have to be the correct sales figures.
In conclusion I would like to say that I believe; the system of print on demand to be a good one as it does allow authors to get their work published at a price that is for the most part affordable. This because they do not have to print a large number of books in the hope of selling them and only do so when they have received payment. I, however also wish to state that I strongly feel that any publisher, using this system should have stricter controls imposed upon them by legal authorities, given that this system does in many ways lend itself to being corrupted by crooked publishers. As was the case with those who chose to publish my book or were paid to do so.
As a final note I would like recommend to those authors seeking to have their work published; to be very careful when it comes to dealing with self publishers which use the print on demand system, or to avoid them all together. That is until one of two things occur. One of them being that authorities find a way to keep tighter control on the number of copies that are being sold, so an author is not limited to hoping that his or her publisher is “dealing on the square” or the publishers themselves set up a system of greater transparency.
???My name is Gianni Truvianni, I am an author who writes with the simple aim of sharing his ideas, thoughts and so much more of what I am with those who are interested in perhaps reading something new. I also am the author of the book entitled “New York’s Opera Society” which is now available on Amazon.
By: Gianni Truvianni
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