Are you an aspiring author looking to publish your book but hesitant about the costs and logistics involved in traditional publishing methods? Or a designer selling bespoke artwork? Print on Demand (POD) is a modern publishing solution that offers a quick and affordable way to make your product available online.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through what print-on-demand is, how it works, and its advantages over traditional printing methods. This guide will equip you with all the information you need to use print-on-demand for your business in the UK.
What is Print on Demand (POD)?
Print-On-Demand (POD) is an innovative printing solution that enables authors to publish their books without needing a large upfront investment in printing and storage costs.
The global print-on-demand market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 26.1% from 2022-2030 (Source). The surge in POD services can be partly attributed to the post-pandemic effect. Publishers and other retail channels operating at limited capacity during the pandemic turned to print-on-demand as a means of distribution. This led to an increase in demand for print-on-demand services.
POD services provide authors with an easy and cost-effective way to upload their manuscripts and artwork online. Moreover, POD enables authors to print books with high-quality graphics, such as customised covers for different versions. Once the order is placed, the books are printed and can be either picked up in person or delivered directly to the customer by courier, eliminating delays in restocking.
POD vs. E-book publishing
Print-on-Demand (POD) and e-book publishing are different methods of publishing books that offer different benefits and drawbacks.
POD is a process of printing and binding books only when orders are received, eliminating the need for large print runs and reducing upfront costs for authors. POD allows for greater control over the book's design and layout, and physical copies can be sold through online retailers like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. However, POD books can be more expensive per unit and may take longer to produce and ship.
On the other hand, e-book publishing offers instant distribution and virtually no cost of goods sold. E-books can be sold through various online platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo, or Apple Books and can be easily accessed and read on e-reader devices or smartphones. However, e-books may not appeal to readers who prefer physical books and can be subject to issues like piracy and format compatibility.
Ultimately, the choice between POD and e-book publishing depends on the author's goals and budget, as well as the preferences of their target audience. Some authors choose to do both, offering physical and digital copies of their books to cater to different readers.
Print-On-Demand – Who else can use it?
Many businesses can benefit from using print-on-demand (POD) services to create and sell their products. Here are some examples:
- Artists and designers can use POD services to print their artwork on various products, such as t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, and more, without the need for large inventory or upfront costs.
- Photographers can use POD services to sell their prints on mediums like canvas, metal, and paper. With POD, they don't have to worry about keeping stock or managing shipping or handling.
- Small businesses can use POD services to create branded merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, bags, and other accessories. This way, they can promote their brand and increase brand recognition without investing much capital upfront.
- Online retailers can use POD services to offer customised and unique products to their customers. For example, an online store that sells home decor items can use POD to print custom designs on products such as throw pillows, curtains, and wall art.
- Non-profit organisations can use POD services to raise funds by selling merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, and other promotional items with their logos. This way, they can raise awareness about their cause and generate revenue simultaneously.
How does Print On Demand work?
The POD process for different businesses may vary slightly, but generally, it involves the following steps:
- Choose a POD provider: The first step is to choose one that offers the needed services. Various POD providers are available, each with their specialisations and capabilities.
- Design and upload your products: Once you have chosen a POD provider, you will need to create the design for your product, whether it be a book, a t-shirt, or a mug. You can use your designs or hire a professional designer. After that, you must upload your design to the POD platform and set up your product details, such as pricing, description, and shipping options.
- Customers place orders: When a customer orders your product online, the POD provider receives the order details, which will be automatically printed and shipped to the customer.
- Production and shipping: The POD provider prints the product on demand, packs it, and ships it to the customer on your behalf. Most POD providers have multiple printing facilities worldwide to ensure fast and affordable shipping to customers.
- Payment: You receive payment for the sale, minus the cost of production and shipping, from the POD provider. The payment is usually made through a payment gateway linked to your online store.
For example, a clothing store using POD services would design and upload its t-shirt designs to the POD provider's platform. When a customer orders a t-shirt, the POD provider will print the design on the shirt and ship it to the customer on behalf of the clothing store. The clothing store will receive payment for the sale, minus the cost of production and shipping, from the POD provider.
What are the advantages of POD?
Print-on-Demand (POD) printing offers many advantages to authors, particularly self-publishing. Some of the benefits of POD include:
- Cost-effectiveness: POD allows printing orders one at a time, eliminating the need for large print runs and storage costs. Thus, it is affordable for small businesses who want to produce small quantities or print on demand as orders come in.
- Flexibility: With POD, there is greater control over the final design and layout, and one can make changes easily. There is scope for customising individual copies, including a personalised message or dedication.
- No minimum quantities: Unlike traditional printing, POD does not require business owners to commit to a minimum order quantity. You can print and sell as many or as few copies as you want without worrying about excess inventory.
- Faster turnaround: POD printing allows quick turnaround times, with items typically printed and shipped within a few days of ordering.
Print-On-Demand in the UK – What you need to know
If you're planning to use print-on-demand (POD) services in the UK, there are a few things to keep in mind before getting started:
- Quality of print: Choose a POD provider with high-quality printing services to ensure your products look professional and meet customer expectations.
- Shipping times and costs: Check the shipping times and costs of the POD provider you choose to ensure that they can meet your needs and that the costs won't affect your profits.
- Pricing and profit margins: Consider the pricing of your products and the profit margins you can expect. While POD services can be cost-effective, you'll need to factor in the costs of printing, shipping, and any fees the provider charges.
- Copyright and licensing: Ensure you have copyright and licensing permissions for any images or designs used in your products to avoid legal issues.
- Customer service: Look for a POD provider with good customer service and support to resolve any issues quickly and efficiently.
- Integrations with your e-commerce platform: Check whether your chosen POD provider integrates with your e-commerce platform. This integration will enable you to streamline your operations and reduce the time and effort required to manage your orders.
By keeping these points in mind, you can ensure that you choose the right POD provider for your business and that your POD products meet your customers' expectations.
Print On Demand in UK– Tips to get started
If you're interested in starting a print-on-demand business, using a print-on-demand service can be an easier alternative to managing your inventory. However, it's important to consider some unique challenges with this approach. To help you get started, here are some of the best tips for print-on-demand.
- Always order samples to ensure product quality and take advantage of any available discounts on sample orders. Having samples on hand for product photos is also a good idea.
- Be strategic about shipping by accounting for production times, being upfront about shipping times, and considering offering free shipping if possible. You can also use free shipping as a sales sweetener to justify longer wait times.
- Create mockups that show off your products to customers. Many print-on-demand services offer mockup templates, or you can use services like PlaceIt or browse sites like Mockup World for templates.
- Find your niche and build an audience by targeting a specific audience, starting an Instagram account, testing your products with Facebook ads, and collecting email addresses from visitors.
- Create your own online store using a platform like Shopline, which offers integrations with top print-on-demand services and gives you control over your business's shopping experience and branding. By owning your own store, you can establish a relationship with customers beyond marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy.
We hope this post has helped you to understand what print-on-demand (POD) is and how it works. We also encourage you to check out some of the sites mentioned above for more information on POD printing in the UK. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us!