Which type of distribution is right for you?
Traditional vs. Print-On-Demand
There are two types of book distribution for printed books: Print-On-Demand (POD) and Expanded Distribution.
Your personal Publishing Consultant will help you decide which model will work best for you, your book, and your budget, but the following questions can get you moving in the right direction:
- How important is it to me that I get my book in bookstores? Do I want that opportunity enough to warrant the additional expenses of expanded distribution?
- What’s my publishing budget? Does my budget allow for up-front printing and storage?
- Does my book have any specific printing needs that would be better addressed by an offset printer? Color interior, hardcover with dust jacket, foil stamping, or embossing?
Print-On-Demand (POD) Distribution
POD means books are printed to order; there’s no physical inventory of your book sitting around. When someone purchases your book through Amazon.com or BN.com, the order is sent to the POD printer, where your book is promptly printed and sent off in the mail to a happy reader.
Bookstores and other retailers who work with Ingram or Baker & Taylor can order copies of your book at wholesale price, and those orders are printed and delivered. We recommend adding our hassle-free Lifetime Book Return Service into your publishing package, so bookstores can feel confident about stocking your books.
- Ideal for lighter publishing budgets. Lower initial investment. No need to spend money to print books ahead of time or store them somewhere.
- You don’t have to worry about selling an entire inventory.
- Print options are more standard, less customizable. POD printing (particularly color) sometimes has toner variance.
- Higher per-book print cost.
- Less suitable for children’s books due to variance in color printing and pricing of hard covers.
- Presentation of your book and marketing pitch to retailers is not included in POD.
Expanded distribution is closer to the traditional model of book distribution.
A large print run of your book is done ahead of time and copies are stored at the distribution center. The distributor then fulfills orders using your printed inventory.
One benefit of expanded distribution is that a distributor can send copies of your book and its marketing materials to the buyers at Barnes & Noble, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor, and this exposure increases your chances of getting placed in bookstores.
- Offset printing gives you better per-book print costs for large quantities, as well as a slew of customization options and high-quality print jobs.
- More suitable for children’s books.
- Presentation of your book to book buyers, increasing chances of being picked up by brick-and-mortar stores.
- Higher up-front expense, for printing an inventory of books to stock in the distribution center.
- Maintenance fees over the lifespan of your book: storage, returns service, and shipping.
- You will need to sell through the entire inventory you print to avoid having “leftover” books.