Children’s Books, Graphic Novels, and Art Projects? Work Backwards from Distribution

Print-on-demand printing has revolutionized the publishing industry. It has minimized the startup costs necessary for professional publication, and gives small players access to big markets.

What is print-on-demand (often called “POD”)? POD means that your books aren’t printed until a customer or bookstore orders them. In the old days, when you “published” a book, you would pay a printer to run off 1,000 copies or more, and then you’d pay a distributor to keep them in a warehouse. That meant a big expense up front for all of that printing, and big risk for you (what if they don’t sell?), as well as additional ongoing fees for warehousing and distribution.

When you work with Columbus Publishing Lab, your book files are stored digitally by Ingram, our distributor. When a customer orders a book, from Amazon let’s say, Amazon calls up Ingram and asks for one book. We print one copy of the book right away and hand it off to Amazon the same day it was ordered, and they ship it out to the customer, pretending like it was in their warehouse the whole time. The cost to print and fulfill the book are deducted from the wholesale price, and the author gets paid without any upfront cost to print and store the book.

This is incredible! But it does have one drawback. In order to keep that system efficient so that we can print thousands of different titles each day, there’s a limit to the book sizes and options that we can accommodate.

If you want a book printed at an uncommon size or with special features, like pockets, embossing, or fold-outs, you won’t be able to take advantage of POD technology. You’ll be back in that old boat of paying a printer for a big order up front, and then either paying a distributor to warehouse it, or putting them in your basement and trying to find a way to sell them yourself.

It’s almost never an issue for novels, but we sometimes run into this when an author brings us a complete project like a Children’s book, graphic novel, photo book, or art project. The author has already completed all of the design and artwork, but unbeknownst to them, it’s at a non-standard size. Or perhaps they built the project with some special feature in mind, like a fold-out map that isn’t critical to the project, but now everything is built around that feature.

We always work with the author to find a way to make it work, but that usually means that we either need to reformat everything and redo a lot of work, or we need to print a large quantity up front and distribute those books old-school from the warehouse. What that means either way: things just got a lot more frustrating and expensive for the author. And the fallout is usually an over-priced book and poor sales.

But there’s an easy solution: Give us a call! And call us early. (You can also now text us at 614-805-3982.)  Let’s start from the end point and show you the parameters for what we can print and distribute with this amazing POD technology.  Armed with that information, you’ll be able to make good choices from start to finish regarding how you size and layout your pages and what features you’re expecting.

Most illustrators don’t care if the page is 8.5″ x 8.5″ or 8.5″ x 9.5″. So if an 8.5″ x 8.5″ page will save them thousands of dollars in up front cost, it’s all gravy. They just don’t have that information until we talk, but if they know before they start, it’s easy enough to make it work.

We can’t wait to work together with you. You have a great idea that you’re excited about, and we’ve got the nuts and bolts knowledge to make sure that you have the best market access possible, and you’re in a position to succeed.

Regardless of your project, it’s never too early to start a conversation. The journey is so much easier when you know your destination.