• Marina Aris

Is the Print Industry Sitting On A Gold Mine Opportunity? Can we Improve POD for Indie Publishing?

NOTE: This article is meant to start a dialogue on whether we need an improved POD solution when high quality results are the goal. It is in no way meant to harm any current industry provider, nor does it mention any specific provider. The aim is to begin a discussion and to consider whether there is an opportunity for better book production via POD when smaller publishers, and self-published authors seek it.

When I started the Brooklyn Writers Press in 2017, I came up with a mission to produce beautiful books that meet professional publishing standards. That mission also became the promise I made to authors whose books I chose to publish.

But now nearly four years later, I’m coming to realize that my promise and my mission are increasingly difficult to deliver on given the current POD solutions available.

I sometimes jokingly say I would start up my own POD company if I had the resources to do so. But I’m most passionate about writing and working with authors so I figured the next best thing is to ask for help from the print industry and POD service providers directly.

The challenge with current POD solutions is that they produce print books that:

have misaligned copy on the spine and cover

have inconsistent colors from one copy to the next

have dust jackets with flaps that are carelessly or unevenly folded

and the list goes on (search online and you’ll find countless photos and complaints, and pleas for help on books that were poorly printed)

“Something has to change, even if that change will have to come at a higher cost. At which point will we commit to excellence in quality over speed and affordability?”

At the Brooklyn Writers Press, we spend countless hours on the iterative process of producing professional standard, publish-ready files. The industry pros I hire are as committed to excellence as I am, so it is incredibly frustrating to receive a print copy that does not meet the standards we promise to deliver on.

“Readers deserve a well-produced print copy when they invest in one. Authors deserve a beautiful book they can be proud of. And professional independent publishers like myself need to be able to deliver on the promise of a professionally produced book.”

Is the print industry sitting on a gold-mine opportunity?

I’ve been told a large number of print shops are shutting down. This should not happen! Not when the volume of books being produced in the independent publishing marketplace is so large. Not when there is a need for a better quality POD solution.

So here are the big questions:

"Can the print industry develop a new and improved POD model for independently published authors and their publishers?"

"What is the cost of an improved POD solution?"

"Can our current POD service providers stop the presses and listen to this call for help and improve on what they’re delivering?"

As things are now, we are paying a high price for poor quality, by way of countless calls to customer service, shipping poor-quality books back to POD service providers, winding up with inventory we cannot use, missing planned release dates, etc.

I can’t speak for all independent publishers or self-published authors, but I would be willing to invest in a better POD solution and even extend my production timeline if the final result could help me deliver on my promise to authors and their readers.

There has to be a better way.

"If fast production, means poor quality, I surely don’t want it. Nor do authors or their readers."

If you’ve taken the time to read this article, please know it is intended to be a call for improved action. A reminder that there is a greater mission behind the books that are published independently.

Self-published authors and independent publishers like myself rely on print and distribution services once our work is done. As the industry continues to evolve we need to maintain an open line of communication and to highlight what’s working and what isn’t.

The current POD solution needs to improve. The final question is, what are we going to do about it?

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