Should You Choose to do Print-on-Demand or Ship-on-Demand For Your Book?

If you’re getting ready to have your book printed and start selling copies, you may think that you need to order a truckload of books. But did you know that about half of all titles published sell less than 250 copies per year? About 30% of titles produced worldwide actually go unsold.

Want to be able to avoid having a basement full of extra books? There are two methods every self-publishing author needs to know about: Print On-Demand (POD) and Ship On-Demand (SOD).

Print On-Demand is where an order is placed for the book by a buyer, the book is printed, and then shipped to the buyer. There are fewer upfront costs since you are not paying to print large quantities of a book before copies begin selling. The manufacturing cost per book is higher, but you will not have to pay fees to have the book stored at a facility, or store books in your home. This process also gives you the ability to modify your book content after it is published and before more copies are sold, if necessary.

Ship On-Demand is where a large batch of books is printed and then stored somewhere, and when an order is placed by a buyer the book is then pulled from inventory and shipped. Ship On-Demand is essentially the process used by traditional publishers who plan to sell large quantities of a title. If you have the money to buy a larger order of books, you will pay less per copy because of the volume of your order. This could mean more profit back per copy, since you paid less for those copies than you would pay if they are printed one at a time by print on-demand.

You’d be surprised to learn how many books sold today are printed using Print On-Demand versus Ship On-Demand. Ever ordered a book from Amazon? There’s a good chance that the book was printed after you paid for it!

So which is better for a self publisher? Here are some things to consider:

You don’t have much room in your initial publishing budget for manufacturing costs. You would like to pay a low cost per book by ordering a larger quantity.
You are unsure of how well your title will sell, and do not want to over-print. You don’t want to pay storage fees or store books at home. You want to set up distribution with a major book distributor (i.e. Baker & Taylor or Ingram).
Your publishing support provider (i.e. BookLogix) offers POD bookselling and pays you royalties when copies sell, without you having to order books upfront. You want to be able to ship the books yourself when you get orders from Amazon, your website, etc.


Regardless of which method you choose, be sure you have a good sense of all potential expenses that may be incurred, such as storage fees, processing fees, and shipping costs.