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Thread: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

  1. #1
    Sgt Spanky
    Guest

    So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Okay, I've been reading here and I certainly get that PA sucks but does the whole concept of POD suck and do all POD publishers suck?

    I'm curious what the veteran posters think of this publishing option.



    ...and Hi from the new guy.

  2. #2
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Print on Demand is a business model.

    It's unfortunate that a whole pile of vanity presses have adopted it, giving the name a bit of a smell. But to answer your question, no. Not all PoD publishers suck, and there's a lot to be said for the business model.

  3. #3
    Sgt Spanky
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Can you elaborate further, James?

    For example, iUniverse. They claim a great deal of support and placement of one's books with prime sellers both online and in bookstores.

    Depending on the publishing package, of course.

  4. #4
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    iUniverse is a vanity PoD.

  5. #5
    Gala
    Guest

    Pod isn't always vain

    <blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>iUniverse is a vanity PoD.<hr></blockquote>

    Not entirely. I can go to Barnes and Noble and order an iUniverse book. The author doesn't pay to have it printed.

    I can also go to a booksigning and Barnes and Noble, and the author may have a stack of his books for sale, that he purchased himself to resell.

    I've participated in both kinds of purchases, to support authors in my community or that I critiqued. I've even gotten their books into my local library by having the library purchase from iUniverse.

    Their model differs from others that expect the author to buy and resell all of their own books.

    I'm referring to the final sale of books only, and won't delve into marketing plans and all of that discussed ad infinitum elsewhere on AW.

  6. #6
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: Pod isn't always vain

    Not entirely. I can go to Barnes and Noble and order an iUniverse book. The author doesn't pay to have it printed

    You can go to Barnes & Noble and order a PublishAmerica book too. "Available in" and "Stocked in" are two different things.

    The author pays up front. iU's cheapest package starts at $299 and goes up from there.

    Remember: The only place an author signs a check is on the back.

  7. #7
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Uncle Jim and I usually agree, but here I have a somewhat different perspective...

    Print on demand isn't a business model---it's a technology. The technology is part of a business model that many people (mistakenly, IMO, since POD can be used for a lot of things) identify as "POD". This business model--which includes a particular complex of practices such as no or minimal editorial gatekeeping, high cover prices, short discounts, and no returns--is an adaptation of new tech to the very old business of vanity publishing. Where it differs significantly from old-style offset vanity publishing is in price: POD, because it allows one book to be printed at a time, is much, much cheaper. These new vanity publishers can therefore can charge a low initial fee (at least, compared with the thousands of dollars that print vanities like Vantage charge).

    New-style vanities come in two flavors:

    - Fairly straightforward pay-to-publish operations such as iUniverse, Author House, Xlibris, Infinity, Trafford, etc, etc, which may hype up the supposed advantages of "self"-publishing and sell worthless adjunct services but basically don't try to deceive writers about what's going on. If you're looking to become the next great American novelist they're not a good choice; but for noncommercial books (such as a family memoir) or niche nonfiction projects (where the author has a way to reach his audience or to direct-sell books) they can be a reasonable way to go.

    - Deceptive operations that attempt to hide or camouflage their fees, and pose as "traditional" publishers. Sometimes they bury the fees in the contract (like Washington House/Trident Media, which charges several thousand dollars for "editing"); sometimes they hide them so cleverly that hoodwinked authors think they're getting published for free (like PublishAmerica, whose fees are hidden in its very high book prices and constant incentives for authors to buy their own books). Operations like this, which not only extract money but typically have poor contracts and treat their authors like crap, should be avoided.

    Print on demand technology can also be part of a commercial publishing business model. Larger houses use it to print up galleys and ARCs. Smaller publishers may use it as a cost-effective way of producing small print runs. Some perfectly legitimate publishers are entirely POD-based; except for not using offset, they function like commercial publishers.

    - Victoria

  8. #8
    emeraldcite
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Washington House/Trident Media


    which is different than trident media group, the agency, right?

  9. #9
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Usually I agree with Victoria, but in this case I differ a bit.

    I consider digitial printing to be different from Print/Publish on Demand.

    Digital printing allows short run printing as low as a single copy. This is the technology.

    Print on Demand only prints a book after the order is received. This is the business model.

    The publishers who use digital printers to print up short runs of books aren't Print on Demand publishers, regardless of how the ink gets on the paper.

    While most Print on Demand publishers use digital printing technology, its possible to use offset in the same way. If a PdD got a paid order for 500 copies from one of their authors, I'm sure they'd take it to a local short-run offset printer. The price per copy is lower. That wouldn't stop 'em from being a PoD publisher.

    I'm morally certain that iU's Amy Fisher book is being printed on offset presses. That doesn't stop iU from being a PoD house either.

  10. #10
    Gala
    Guest

    author doesn't pay upfront...

    maybe I'm being lied to but the iUniverse authors I know do not pay up front before one of their books is printed per order.

    I also considered iUniverse last year for an anthology project, so intereacted with iU a bit.

    It's true there are up front fees to get the ball rolling--that's vanity. Also authors can purchase their books at a discount an resell themm--that's vanity.

    But when I order their book over the counter, or for the library, the authors are not paying to have that book printed.

    I don't know anything about PA or the other companies.

  11. #11
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: author doesn't pay upfront...

    maybe I'm being lied to but the iUniverse authors I know do not pay up front before one of their books is printed per order.

    They paid a minimum of $299 before any of their books were printed, right?

  12. #12
    keltora
    Guest

    Re: author doesn't pay upfront...

    Wildside Press is one of the presses taking advantage of the PoD technology.

    I have one set of reprinted stories with them that pays a small but steady royalty. Nothing to sneeze at, but it's nice to keep those stories in print.

    :coffee

  13. #13
    maestrowork
    Guest

    Re: author doesn't pay upfront...

    I guess what Gala said was: after you paid the upfront charges (which include the "services" in various packages), you don't pay another dime for the actual books printed, unlike, say, Lulu or Cafe Press (well, the author doesn't pay either... the cost is pushed on the readers by charging them higher book prices).

    So if you sell 500 books or 50,000 books, the upfront charge is the same. It's PoD. Not sure if iUnverse's books are returnable or not, but judging from Amy Fisher's book, they do offer discounts.

  14. #14
    Gala
    Guest

    yep

    Thanks Maestro. That's correct.

    It's semantics. I see cafe press as a vanity publisher too, despite the difference in the order of how/when the book is published (printed, actually). It's not an different than my running off copies and selling them, OR saying, "for ten bucks I'll print you a copy."

    The diff is cafe press (I suspect) has better equipment than I do and handles mailing and other details so authors don't have to.

    I was once involved in a project where copies were printed at Kinkos with fairly decent binding. People wanted to buy more, so more were printed. Same thing.

    I know some cafe press folks will disagree with me here, and that's fine. I buy books I like and from authors I support no matter how they were printed.

    I prefer traditional publishing for my books, for all kinds of reasons not pertinent here.

    It may be apparent by now I tend to throw all non-traditionally published work in a big POD/Vanity bucket. As with tradional publishing companies, and all business, some are more scrupulous and have a higher quality product than others. Buyer beware.

  15. #15
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: yep

    I know this is going to sound like semantics, but when you run off copies at Kinkos, that's self-publishing.

  16. #16
    Gala
    Guest

    Re: yep

    sure is.

    so is cafe press, imo and in my mind, iUniverse and others can rest in my bucket too.

    It's all vanity.

    :b

    (for the record--cafe press wasn't around when we used Kinkos. Now I'd use cafe press, iUniverse or similar for that kind of project.)

  17. #17
    Greenwolf103
    Guest

    Re: yep

    Not all POD publishers are evil. Look at Angela Hoy: Her company is POD but it's not like she's saying "you have to pay $500 to get published with me." I truly think she is trying to do something GOOD for POD publishing (if that is possible?) but the negatives are still there. And there are, unfortunately, more sharks than there are dolphins. :grin

    But I echo Gala's point: Go with a traditional press first. If you can. If not, self-publishing your book is better than POD.

  18. #18
    SimonSays
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    The essential difference between vanity publishers and whatever you want to call them - traditional publishers, commercial houses, is this:

    Vanity publishers (whether they charge upfront fees or not and regardless of the technology they use) publish your book for YOU. Traditional publishers publish your book for THEMSELVES.

    What I mean by that is that traditional publishers are seeking books that they feel will have appeal to a large audience base, because there goal is to sell as many copies as possible of each title they publish. They reject a lot of books because they don't think the quality of the writing or the subject matter of the book will have a broad appeal.

    Vanity publishers however, do not care what kind of appeal or what quality a book is. They are not looking to sell a lot of copies of any individual title, their goal is to have as many titles as possible.

    Publish America claims to be near selling their millionth book and claims to have 9,000 authors - that comes out to about 100 copies of each book. A traditional publisher on the other hand can sell that many total copies off a couple dozen titles.

    Because traditional publishers are seeking to sell 10s of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of each title, they are willing to invest in marketing and distribution. Vanity publishers however, throw their marketing dollars towards attracting new authors, not toward selling their books.

    So if you are looking for marketing support and distribution - then the answer is yes, all vanity publishers suck.

  19. #19
    vstrauss
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Another way of expressing the vanity/commercial publisher difference: A vanity publisher's customers are its authors. A commercial publisher's customers are its readers.

    iUniverse and other vanity POD authors actually do pay each time a book is printed, because the vanity POD keeps the lion's share of the book's purchase price. That's how these companies are able to keep the upfront costs down. With true self-publishing, all proceeds go to the author.

    - Victoria

  20. #20
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    A traditional publisher prints books in advance of orders.

    A PoD publisher prints books after the orders are in hand.

    This is because a traditional publisher is anticipating sales -- while a PoD publisher isn't.

  21. #21
    Whachawant
    Guest

    Re: So Do ALL PODs Suck?

    Well, there have been a lot of good comments on this thread. More so, for the fact that P.O.D.'s are not a good choice, unless you want a short run of a book that should not have been in print.

    I'm convinced! Over 90% of P.O.D.'s....SUCK!
    Mind you, it may still be a result of the jackasses that ruined it for the honest guy.

  22. #22
    vrauls
    Guest

    Re: yep

    I have a project that I plan on self-publishing. It's a family cookbook of grandmother's recipes that I'll hand out as Christmas gifts.

    I'm not interested in a "publisher" to handle anything for me, I don't need editing, an ISBN, or any bogus services. The book will never be sold and I won't consider it an author credit on my resume. I certainly don't need a company keeping most of my money for nothing.

    But I would like something more professional than running copies off at Kinko's. Where do I go for a straight professional deal -- I pay up front for X number of copies and they deliver them to me? No percents, no BS, no vanity nonsense.

  23. #23
    CaoPaux
    Guest

    Re: yep

    Drop down to the Self-publishing board:

    p197.ezboard.com/fabsolut...ID=3.topic

  24. #24
    James D Macdonald
    Guest

    Re: yep

    Where do I go for a straight professional deal?

    The yellow pages. Check in your local phone book under "printers, commercial."

  25. #25
    Sgt Spanky
    Guest

    Re: yep

    Lotsa good input here. Thanks for the benefit of everyone's experience. It's been helpful. :thumbs

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