Checklist list check white mark questionnaire isolated green pencil ok yes elections diagnosticsHere’s the scenario: Your continuing education materials are print-ready. Instructors are ready to go and learners from your association are already signed up for the new course. Everyone involved is excited to get started.

It’s time to decide: How many books should you print? Is it better to choose a large print run or produce books as they are ordered?

Print on Demand (POD) means that printed materials are produced on an as-needed basis. The opposite of POD is a large print run, where hundreds or thousands of books are produced at one time, in the hopes that someone will purchase them. The per-unit price is lower with large print runs, but producing more inventory than you might need can lead to waste and a need for a large warehouse space.

Is POD right for your organization? Consider these questions:

  • How many learners do you expect will enroll for the course? The higher enrollment is, the more likely it is that a larger print run will work. If you’re unsure, POD is the smarter choice.
  • How often does content need to be updated? Associations that operates in an industry with frequent changes driven by legislation or credentialing requirements are best served by POD because changes can be made before new volumes are printed.
  • Do you have room (in a warehouse or your office space) to house books from a larger print run? Which is more cost-efficient for your association: Doing a large print run and then having to give up office space (or, worse, renting warehouse space) to handle the inventory, or printing fewer copies and not having to worry about creating space for extras?
  • Are you confident that your printer can turn around new orders quickly? If you print on demand, but your provider doesn’t take the time to respond to requests in a timely matter, that has a negative impact on your association’s reputation. Alternatively, would your printer be willing to house a few extra copies of each title on your behalf, to fill orders easily (known as a microinventory)? While not true print on demand, using a microinventory is more efficient than POD and less wasteful than large print runs.

One question that might have been included in the checklist a few years ago—are you willing to compromise on quality? Print on demand has a bad reputation of creating a poor product, but the technology has improved to the point where it’s difficult to tell the difference between a book produced through POD from one that was part of an offset print run.

POD is considered by some to be friendlier to the environment than long print runs. It can be more cost-efficient, too. If you produce 500 books and content needs to be changed when half still sit on the warehouse shelf, 250 books will go to waste. The per-unit price break you got for a large print run becomes a moot point.

Looking through the questions on the checklist, did you determine that your organization should consider POD? We should talk! Check out print on demand page on our website and contact us to get the conversation started.