October 01, 2004

Print on Demand or Why Does This Book Cost So Much and Have Such a Bad Cover?

by Alan Beatts

Several years ago a company called Lightning Source started printing books.  A new printing company wouldn't normally be worth much comment but Lightning Source (which was originally called Lightning Print) isn't a normal printer.  They're in the business of what's called Print on Demand publishing, (or POD) and that's not anything like normal printing.

Unlike traditional printing, POD works like this -- a publisher produces an electronic file that is a representation of a complete book; cover, table of contents, layout, the whole deal.  This file is sent to Lightning Source where, for a modest fee (as low as $300 in the early days), they store it and make it ready for the next stage.