Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

My Photo
Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Misplaced Print-On-Demand Euphoria

POD Critic is a new blog whose author hopes to take the place of POD-DY Mouth now that she's stopped reviewing books and commenting on things POD.

POD Critic recently wrote posts here and here filled with the kind of nearly evangelical optimism about POD that makes me wince. Here are some key quotes:

Right now, print-on-demand is an advanced printing technology and business model.

It is not particularly advanced, unless you still get wowed by making copies at Kinkos. And it is not a business model (see below). Anyone who confuses a printing technology with a business model doesn't know what they are talking about.

What will determine the true economic advantage of POD technology will be the adoption of its use by large publishers for frontlist books.

I'll make a prediction here. Large publishers will never use POD tech for anything other than certain backlist titles where demand has fallen to a few copies a year. Frontlist titles are ones for which the publisher anticipates (and creates) great demand. Consequently, they print a lot of copies and wharehouse them to be ready to meet that demand. You think Scholastic is going to publish the latest Harry Potter using POD and then play frantic catch up with the POD machines running full speed 24/7? Of course not.

The future is POD, folks; and like I told Jeremy Robinson, you're a part of a burgeoning industry, as authors and publishers, and everyone will soon have to adapt to it.

This is just silly. When I buy a car, I don't become a part of the automotive industry. When I buy a box of cereal, I don't become part of General Mills.

Getting back to my point, however, the more people added to your collective voice, the stronger that voice will become, until those on the other side of this industry will have no choice but to come when that voice beckons them.

What the hell is POD Critic talking about?

Novelist Maya Reynolds has provided some very clear-headed analysis of POD Critic’s posts.

The real problem is that POD publishers have given the technology a bad name by printing whatever dreck comes in the door accompanied by a writer with a check who says she wants to self-publish.

Until the self-publishing industry develops a filter system to weed out the garbage, even quality self-published authors will bear a stigma.

I am less kind than Ms. Reynolds is to POD Critic's "grandiose" (in her words) fantasy that somehow, if enough writers self-publish using POD, their books will somehow escape the prejudice usually assigned to self-published books.

Even if a major trade publisher started publishing their frontlist tomorrow using POD, it won't legitimize self-published books. Before POD tech came on the scene (I first read about it in 1997) writers self-published their books using the same offset printing employed by the majors. That didn't help them escape the prejudice against self-published books.

The problem with self-published books, as Ms. Reynolds points out, is not the way they are printed, but the way they are selected (or not). POD doesn't change that.

Labels: ,

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]