The Rise and Rise of Print-on-Demand

With Viv Makila, Head of Product Development at IBS Bookmaster

BM: What is Print-on-Demand (POD)?

VM: POD is a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order or a demand has been received. The technology has developed only after digital printing proliferated, because it was not economical to print single copies or small print runs using traditional printing technology.

BM: What is the progress in terms of adoption of POD?

VM: Publishers all over the world are accelerating their adoption of Print-on-Demand (POD) technologies. According to a recent article in The Economist, some 6% of all books are now printed on demand.

BM: What is driving this rapid adoption?

VM: There are a number of major influences driving the adoption of POD. One is the reduction in the level of investment required in order to implement a POD system. As with a lot of new technology, the more it is adopted, the lower the cost becomes to the consumer. Similarly, the speed of implementing the latest POD techniques is increasing rapidly, ensuring rapid return on investment for  publishers and distributors.

People are using POD much more for delivering backlist and low volume publications. They are finding it a much more cost effective method and results in less waste and better overall inventory management.

The market is also being driven by the need for the physical book market to match the speed and ease of delivery of digital content and ebooks. The digital book channel has created more competition, which can threaten the level of physical book production due to digital books  being available in a more timely manner.  POD based distribution is enhancing the ability for physical books to be delivered in a competitive timeframe to that of e-books.
In addition the enhanced use of online retail channels has demanded the improvement of distribution channels to suit the consumers’ expectations of speed of delivery of physical books.

BM:  What do publishers need to do to make the most of POD?

VM: As the publishing industry changes in line with modern consumer expectations, the use of POD and Digital Delivery has surfaced as a normal alternative requirement of the delivery process. However, publishers will also need to work in non traditional markets and partner with on-line technology, e- commerce and retail providers. They also need to offer customers a variety of cost structures, payment methods and share the revenue across the whole supply chain.

BM: How can Bookmaster help customers make the most from implementing POD?

VM: POD as a printing technology within the standard publishing supply chain has been in existence for many years and IBS Bookmaster has always supported this level of use. Bookmaster can generate purchase orders to printing suppliers who utilise several different POD methods.

These methods include Order to Order, which allows each individual customer purchase transaction to generate its own related purchase order to the printing supplier. Another common method is printing supplier redirect, which utilizes the Purchase Planning (PSI) sections of Bookmaster to generate fulfillment orders to individual printers based upon the current status of the item. Hence as an item moves from large quantities to small quantities required, the system will utilise a POD supplier in lieu of a large print run supplier.

In response to the challenges facing the publishing industry, IBS Bookmaster has been developing both the physical and digital supply chains within the Bookmaster system, to enable publishers to combine their various supply chain models within the one operational enterprise process. IBS Bookmaster will now suit the additional methods of customer delivery which this brings into play, including distribution using in-house controlled POD and delivery, distribution using 3rd party aggregator controlled POD and warehouse replenishment using POD.

Read more on these delivery models » 

Distribution using in-house controlled POD and delivery

Publishers who wish to directly control the printing process via the use of in-house POD systems or in-house partner systems, will utilise this method.

  1. Demand is generated via the standard sales process
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Web Site
    • 3rd Party Web Site
  2. Sales Orders are despatched via the POD enabled distribution process
    • Bookmaster interacts directly with the in-house POD system to enable the printing process to proceed
    • The POD service despatches the items directly to the customer
  3. The use of multiple POD services is also supported.
    • Customers can be correlated to a particular POD service, based upon geographical or business oriented variables.
    • The Bookmaster system will then direct the order to the appropriate POD based warehouse/printer from which the despatch to the customer will occur

Distribution using 3rd party aggregator controlled POD and delivery (e.g. Amazon)

Publishers who do not wish to directly control the printing or despatch process will utilise this method.

  1. Demand is generated via the standard sales process of the 3rd party aggregator
  2. The 3rd party aggregator interacts with its own POD enabled distribution process
  3. Once delivery is confirmed the sale is recognised in Bookmaster via the use of BIC/BISG standardised Sales reporting supplied by the 3rd party aggregator
  4. The 3rd party aggregator is then billed in the normal Accounts Receivable process as a normal wholesale transaction

Warehouse replenishment using POD

This method is used by publishers when a title has not yet reached a level of inventory requirement to utilise the normal printing houses, or sales volume no longer warrants actively managing the product as a part of the core business plan and inventory management. However the level required is not as low as print to order.

  1. Demand is generated via the standard sales process, stock replenishment levels and forecast demand
  2. A print run is generated at set points of the requirement.
  3. Bookmaster generates the POD instructions as:
    • Purchase orders to 3rd party suppliers
    • Replenishment print run instructions when in-house POD is utilised
  4. The printed item is then brought into the normal warehouse operation
  5. The publishers standard despatch methods are then employed to create delivery packages to send to the customer delivery address

 BM: What should customers who are looking to expand their POD capability do?

VM: We invite all our customers to talk to us about how we can help them integrate POD processes into their systems in the most cost effective and profitable way possible. We ensure POD sits comfortably within the publishing supply chain.

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