Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Print on Demand - What Is Means for Your Print Job

The basic concept of  print-on-demand or POD is that material is printed when there is a need for the material, thus eliminating inventory.  For the most part, POD is a very good system; it allows publishers to reduce the amount of money they have in inventory for items that are not being used.  Print-on-Demand also offers the flexibility of customization.  More generic materials can be easily adapted for a sales rep, region, or industry. In certain parts of the country, the term PQN (print quantity needed) is sometimes used to describe the same system.

Some businesses utilize print-on-demand  in conjunction with "micro-warehousing"  where quantities of materials are stored for immediate shipment and then monitored through computer software programs that keep inventory levels at a set point.  This ensures that there is sufficient quantities available to fulfill orders as they are placed.

Jobs that are produced in the POD process are not effected by quality; POD is more a business model for how that print job is managed. In most cases, due to the smaller quantities involved, digital printing technology is commonly used for print-on-demand, but there are some products and quantities that lend themselves to other types of printing processes.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Helping Publishers to Manage Inventory

In the “old days” before automation, publishers had to place numerous phone calls or engage in a series of email exchanges with their printer to order books, check depleting inventory, and track shipments. For those publishers who utilize the services of multiple printers, house inventory in separate warehouse facilities, and contract with fulfillment companies to handle customer orders, it often developed into a logistical nightmare. 

There are solutions available that can help publishers to control their document production and fulfillment efficiently, and with the benefit of cost savings.  Using a web-to-print software application, it is easy to: 
·        Place an order for materials directly online to be processed and fulfilled automatically
·        Manage books stored in inventory by establishing reorder points to maintain set levels
·        Link directly to current  inventory through a shopping cart connection on publisher/author websites
·        View pending orders, back orders, and canceled orders
·        Monitor  each order  in real  time with instant tracking and shipping notification
·        Obtain customizable reports

By implementing an integrated inventory management system, time-draining tasks associated with manual data entry are eliminated, and the headache of being faced with inventory levels too low to fulfill incoming orders is avoided.  When choosing a software solution, publishers should search for one that can be customized for their specific needs, gives them control over their accounts, can be accessed from any location, and is simple to navigate.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book Distribution Basics

Completing a book is indeed a milestone for an author, but the creative portion of book writing is only half the battle. It's important to determine what the ultimate goal is for a new book. If plans are to sell the title in the marketplace, then an author needs to investigate the business side of the book publishing process, or book distribution.  For a writer who prefers to give away books as mementos for family and friends, to sell copies at the local bookstore or flea market, or to take orders from a personal website and ship from a home garage, distribution is not a major issue.  The option to distribute a book definitely offers several advantages worth considering, including: 1) increased awareness; 2) more accessibility; 3) more availability; and 4) a potential for greater sales.

It is actually in the best interest of any author to think through the distribution decision BEFORE a book is completed.  The author should envision the end result and set realistic goals.  When releasing a book to the public, there are a handful of large wholesale and retail channels that can be utilized, and each specializes in specific markets.  Amazon, for example, mainly deals with sales to individual users of their site, while distributors such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram cater more to trade institutions, such as schools and libraries. Understanding a book’s target market is a critical first step toward determining which distribution avenue is the best vehicle for a new title.

Most companies that offer distribution do so at a price.  Some charge a flat, one-time fee, while others use sliding scales per each sale, and some utilize a combination of both.  Each author must weigh several factors simultaneously, which involves setting the correct retail price for the book based on comparable material in the marketplace, as well as print production and fulfillment costs. Additionally, depending upon the type of  book distribution agreement an author selects, a wholesale or retail book sale usually results in an upfront discount off the book’s retail price.  Although discount percentages vary as per agreement, discount pricing is the industry’s standard practice, and must be a factor in determining the actual retail price of a new title.

The book distribution business can be tricky to understand and navigate. Every author should research the retail and wholesale distribution options available to them, and contact those knowledgeable about the subject, such as their publisher or printer

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Helping Historical Societies Earn Income with Reprints

Most, if not all historical societies have a backlog of information that can yield much needed revenue in these tough economic times. Over the years, societies have published town histories, event books, documents, journals, meeting records, and cookbooks.  Many of these publications are either out-of-print or exist in very low quantities.  There is a definite market for these cultural treasures, which can be reproduced and sold to the tourist trade,  used for research purposes, or even for pleasure reading.

With the new digital printing processes, and the ability to scan pages of previously printed works and put them into digital image formats, publications can easily be reprinted for profit.  For example, a book that was out-of-print fifteen years ago about "who was buried in the county before 1850"  has resulted in sales up to $1500 a year for one historical society. Real-life nostalgia articles on "how it was back then" can be reformatted as books and sold by the dates of the articles.  Fragile and fading original documents can be preserved and protected, and their reprints can be utilized for museum and store displays, or sold on-site at the gift shop, local drug store, or at special events. Documents can be printed as needed, in small quantities, ordered online,  and even fulfilled by an outside vendor.  

Historical societies can take the first step to uncovering overlooked and potentially valuable documents by conducting a thorough inventory of their books and documents.  The most important thing to remember when working with historic documents is to obtain clear copyright clearance before producing new materials.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Microsoft Buys into Nook Unit

As Barnes and Noble forms a yet unnamed new division for its Nook and college businesses, receiving some badly needed cash from Microsoft, we are starting to see the different lines in the sand for dominance in the tablet marketplace. This new announcement comes as both the Nook and Amazon Kindle continue to face stiff competition from the highly successful Apple iPad.  The partnership also is an indication of the direction that Barnes & Noble envisions for its book markets. By incorporating their college sales into this new division, the company is placing a high priority on the higher education market and the delivery of digital content to students through eReaders.  The college division is the first segment, but to be a leader in the digital explosion, the lower grades levels will most likely be a future emphasis.

Microsoft will also gain by having the software that will allow digital books to be part of their new Window 8 operating system, using a Nook application.  The electronic book market and the devices the digital books are read on are each hotly contested.  As the two bright spots in Barnes and Noble business are moving to a new division, one has to question where this leaves the brick and mortar mega stores.  Their merchandise mix has evolved during the last few years, and this trend will most likely continue.  Does this mean there might be some hope and a place for the smaller independent bookseller?