Friday, July 17, 2009

Defending POD

Recently there have been a lot of negative comments about Lulu and print on demand fulfillment in general. I just wanted to make a very brief post about this. There is not doubt that POD, Lulu in particular, can cause issues. Sometimes the printers ship shoddy products, whether it be low ink prints, missing pages, etc. However, I've only ever been informed of one problem with one of my products from Lulu (knock on wood). It happens, but not commonly, and when it does happen the situation is corrected (even though dealing with Lulu customer service can be nerve wracking).

Beyond that issue though, there are some very good advantages to POD products. As a small publisher who creates products for a narrow niche market, I generally don't want the financial risk of a print run. I will make an exception for the Labyrinth Lord core book and some other books that go into distribution, but only with certain print numbers because I have a feel for how well they sell. For some products, though, POD is the only way to go. In addition, Goblinoid Games is not my main job. It's my hobby. Many people don't realize that it is the same for many small publishers, even though they probably wouldn't phrase it that way. I don't want the hassle of fulfilling orders. I can do it for the short term, for special short print runs or sales, but in general I just don't have time to fulfill orders daily indefinitely, so POD is a godsend in that regard. I can upload products, and they deal with fulfilling the order.

I think this is where much of the "industry" will end up in coming years, with a few exceptions of the big companies or the old well established brands. Nonetheless I am going to go into traditional distribution to see how things go, but only in a very calculated way so that if things don't go well I'm not hurt very much.

Anyway, the point is, yes you can be a "real" publisher even if you only offer print products as POD titles. The stigma of POD, to the extent it exists, must and will disappear. It has to simply because we have no choice. It's where things are going.

9 comments:

Wulfgar22 said...

Yes. Would there even be an Old School Rennaisance without POD? I don't think so...at least, not on anywhere near the same scale. For all the frustrations of dealing with Lulu...particularly trying to get things shipped here to the UK...I'm eternally grateful to them.

JimLotFP said...

I crusade againt Lulu because it's crap and has no respect for the people that use their service. I use other POD methods myself.

Lulu is not the entirety of POD.

BlUsKrEEm said...

i've never had a problem with Lulu, nor their customer service. When i ordered my first print products from Lulu I accidentaly put the wrong address on the order. It took me a week to realize my mistake, but Lulu customer service was able to rectify my mistake with very little hassle.

Steve Zieser said...

My wife makes a good chunk of our income thru POD (Cafe Press and Zazzle products). She definitely wouldn't be doing it, though, if she had to fulfill orders. She gets to do the part she enjoys, which is creating the designs, and not be concerned about the rest.

Dan of Earth said...

James, Lulu can definitely be a pain, but generally their print quality, or I should say the printers who they contract, are very good usually. You say they are not the entirety of POD, but who else is there? If you want two things, high quality color covers that can be perfect bound or saddle stitched, and you want someone else to process and fulfill those orders, the only real alternative right now is Create Space, but they don't have 8.5x11 size books. They don't do hard covers, either. One alternative a person could do is use Guild of Blades. You'd have to take the orders and forward them to that printer, but their print quality and service is excellent.

In the end it depends in what you need, what sort of printing you want to do, and how many jobs you have time for.

Dan of Earth said...

Steve, I think that's the heart of it for some of us. It is difficult to have your "real life" obligations, create for your hobby (along with the other publishing tasks), keep up on the scene, answer emails, etc.

John Adams said...

While you can shop around and get a local printer to create your products, the truth is that you really can use Lulu as your official printer for providing print products to your customers -as individual POD items they can purchase themselves and to fill large orders (like if you want to sell some from your website or at a convention or even to put into official distribution). 

What most people do not know is that you can set up a private version of your product that only you can access from Lulu.com. Set it up so that it only costs as much as Lulu charges to create it. Then, when you order 25, 100, 400 or more copies of it at a time (even at cost), Lulu will increase your discount. For example, having Lulu create one print copy of a 25 page module will cost $6. But if I have them print up 25 of them in one order, the price goes down to $4.30 a piece. If you up the order to 100, the price for each one drops to $3.80.

Sure, you can get a better price at a local printer, but making sure you get a local printer that will do everything the way you want it is a completely different blog entry. :)

Olman Feelyus said...

Lulu's insane shipping policies to Canada have to be mentioned. Since they changed (about a year ago now), I've basically had to stop buying any POD products from Lulu because the shipping often costs more than the product itself. It's a rip-off/bad management when I can get equally sized and weighted products shipped from IPR or Noble Knight Games for literally a tenth of the cost of Lulu.

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