You know, I could be mistaken, but "PQN" sets off my BS detectors.
Originally Posted by CaoPaux
First: Every use of "PQN" I've found traces back to Dan Poynter. He's talking it up like it's some Hot New Thing that'll revolutionize publishing. I can't find any evidence that PQN is a technical or industry term. Poynter's descriptions of it sound to me like incremental improvements in POD/short run printing and binding technologies -- which is nice, but is hardly revolutionary. I can't see how it warrants coining a whole new term.
It could be that Poynter's just picking up his terminology and descriptions from a single manufacturer's sales literature, and is taking their word for it that this new whatever-it-is is a revolutionary development. Sales literature is fond of saying stuff like that. On the other hand, what the Marketing Department thinks is revolutionary, and what the end users think is revolutionary (not to mention useful), tend to be two different things.
Life's hard when you're a self-publishing guru on the scramble.
Anyway, "PQN" is a meaningless term. POD meant something specific: you could print books as needed without incurring additional setup costs. That was definitely something new under the sun. But PQN? Everybody "prints quantity needed." They just use different methods to do it.
We "printed quantity needed" when we hand-fed single sheets onto a page of hand-set hand-inked type, then phoned out for stir-fried Anomalocaris with sesame noodles. We "printed quantity needed" when we bolted metal stereotypes onto press rollers, ran off pallets full of extra F&Gs, and had cold roast dinosaur on rye in our lunchboxes. And we "printed quantity needed" when digital typography was keystrokes saved to a punched paper tape then output to photographic paper, our repro was pasted down with hot wax on sheets of cardboard, and we went to the diner across the street for our crispy giant ground sloth nuggets with a side order of fries.
Here's Poynter's own description of this Hot New Thang:
PQN (Print Quantity Needed) digital printing machines produce 8 to 12 books at a time from a PDF file on a disk.Is that "produce" as in prints, or binds, or both? If it's binding, I don't see how the multiple-copy angle connects with the technology described further on down.
This short run printing …Bingo! There's the term Poynter should be using. Short-run printing occupies the niche between full-scale offset printing and POD. If you're manufacturing fifty copies or more, short-run printing is the way to go. (See also: PublishAmerica's "49 leftover copies" scam.)
…uses a higher speed direct-to-image (disk to drum) electrostatic process with a toner blend that reproduces photographs well. There is no film or plate.Okay, new toner tech. It sounds good. I’m wondering whether this is the new OcÚ Copy Press system. It's good, but it's incrementally good. It may alter some price points.
The process is cost effective for quantities from 100 to 1,500 copies.Cost effective compared to what? There's the question. Do they mean compared to offset printing? Compared to LightningSource POD? Cost effective for whom?
I'm seriously guessing that this copy was originally written by the company that makes the machines. If you say something is cost-effective, but you don't have to explain any more than that, you're addressing people who automatically know the context.
If I'm right about that, my further guess is that they mean this method's per-unit cost is competitive with the most expensive end of offset printing. That doesn't necessarily mean it's cost-effective for a given self-published author.
It is no longer necessary to print 3,000+ books; 100 or 500 can be produced at a reasonable per-unit cost.Right. And when was it ever necessary to print 3K+ copies of a book? Granted, you get a much lower per-unit cost when you print in that quantity, but that's a far cry from "necessary."
Saying that 100 or 500 copies can be produced "at a reasonable cost" begs a whole lot of questions. Comparative descriptions need more context than that.
Color covers are usually done with the same digital process.I remain convinced that the Ur-version of this document was addressed to the printing trades.
Putting a lot of ink on paper is now just an option; ...
... a good one if there is large prepublication demand such as advanced sales to bookstores and/or a sale to a book club. Ignorant. Advance sales to bookstores are the norm in real publishing. Book clubs look after their own printing, unless they're running on with the main edition, in which case their books get printed by the same giant throbbing offset monsters as all the rest.
There is no longer any reason to print 3,000 or more copies of your book on spec.Yes, there is. You print on spec when you're betting you can count on sales. You don't wait until the customer decides he wants one, because by that time, he probably wants something else.
In the future, most books will not be manufactured until after they are sold.Library sales used to work like that. Sales reps would go around to libraries, taking orders on reprint editions of out-of-print books. When they had enough orders, they'd send that title to press. But libraries aren't bookstore browers. It takes a huge commitment on the part of the reader to plunk down money for a book that isn't available in the store right at that moment.
That's one sense of "sold". If on the other hand he means "ordered by distributors and booksellers," many books are already being sold before they're manufactured. And if on the other other hand he means "the customer forks over money for the book," then Mr. Poynter is primarily talking about online sales: a small fraction of the annual book sales in this country.
Costs. Let’s compare prices for traditional ink-press printing, PQN and POD (print-on-demand, one book at a time such as DocuTech). We will compare a softcover (perfect bound) 144 page 5.5 x 8.5 book with black text and a four-color cover. (Note, costs will fluctuate with the price of paper). 1. Press (ink on paper): $1.55 each but you have to print 3,000 to get a price this low. So, your print bill will be $4,650. That's some serious malarkey. It implies the non-existence of short-run printers, with their multiple incremental per-unit price points in the 100-2,500 copy range. The appropriate comparisons would be the prices at 100, 500, and 3,000 copies for offset printers, short-run printers, and these "PQN" printers.
2. PQN printer (short run): 500 copies for $2.60 each or a print bill of $1,300, or 100 copies for $5.17 each for a print bill of $517.
I suspect that if Mr. Poynter had included all those figures, we'd have learned that this new printing technology could potentially reset some price points, and produce a half-dozen or a dozen copies of a title at a time. It's all to the good, but it's not a revolution. Really, it's not even a Hot New Thing. It's just another incremental improvement in the printing and binding technology -- and printing's not publishing.
Unless someone comes back at me with a heap of pertinent new information on subject, my take on PQN is that it doesn't exist.