Print on Demand vs. Offset Printing: What’s the difference

People too often conceive that the days of printing industry are going to end and digital industry will take over it. However, the latter is not completely true as the digital industry advances the printing industry is not lagging; rather it is trying to catch up with call of the time. Any functionality that is easier to access, less complicated and gives quicker results, is always high in demand, and the best part is that the print industry has been trying to catch up with it by providing on-demand services. Even in this time print holds a good share of market alongside with the music, advertising, and video game industries. But, what do you think, is digital printing the only way to survive in today’s time?

Being a healthy industry in the variety of regions of the world, publishing industry gains profit majorly from two types of printing. The printer may give the author an offer for Print on Demand or Offset Printing depending upon the requirements and distribution of the author for his work.

Every printer should have knowledge of the differences between both type of printing technologies and which one is better in which case. There are certain cases in which print on demand is mostly preferred while there are also cases in which offset printing offers the best results. Now, let us move onto the key differences between these printing technologies and also few assertions for why yet offset printing is the major driver in the industry at the present time as well.

What is Print on Demand?

POD or Print on Demand is a type of digital printing which offers print per order service; this is a book distribution method. The best part about POD printers is that they only deal in print copies of books, magazines and journals, and publishes them in the exact amount in which they will be ordered online. Those new authors who have not got a publisher and are printing their books for their portfolio yet; finds print on demand very profitable as they can even order just a single book. Most of the authors can only afford little number of books only in their starting phase. There is another profit for the publishers that they don’t have to build a separate inventory for their printed materials and wait for the authors to take them; because now the books are printed on the demand basis and they don’t need to stay in the stock for too long. This reduces the initial investment in blacklist significantly.

Roses have thorns too, and just like it, publishers too face many disadvantages in offering POD. The cost of printing per unit of order in POD is more than that in offset printing, which is also why this service earns money even when offering a single or small number of books to be published. And thus it is not efficient, both economically and technically, to print large volume of books with POD alone, making this a bad option for bestselling authors. The printing quality of digital printing is not good in comparison to offset printing which worries from Indie authors to established authors and publishers.

We can see now that POD is not the cure too all of the needs of an Indie author as some disadvantages of POD are fulfilled by Offset Printing in a better way.

What is Offset Printing?

Offset lithography is a printing technology in which ink is transferred from metal plates to rubber sheets or rollers that later on spread the ink on sheets, this is ideally used for mass-production printing work. The large sheets after the printing process are cut into small pieces in accordance to the size of book. Later on in bindery these sheets are bound together into book forms.

Whenever large print orders are there the primary preference is offset lithography, this is the way how most of the publishers publish most of the books that we find in our local bookshops.

Advantages of Offset Printing

The ease offered by digital printing makes it stand apart than offset printing, you can print any file that is available in digital form such as PDF and there is your print. While on the other hand offset requires setting up plates before every new print job that needs to be done. Undoubtedly, this process requires heavy amount of cash initially in setup only. However, the real benefits of offset printing are in bulk orders, it uses relatively lesser amount of in that makes it significantly cheaper in front of digital printing.

As we know that the costs per unit for digital printing is way more than offset printing therefore the digital printers and the offset lithography printers have signed an agreement that when the order becomes less economical for POD then the offset printers can provide the most competitive quote to their client for further printings.

The most crucial advantage yet remains the quantity in case of offset printers over digital printers. Every writer has a pragmatic idea of how many books he/she can sell, depending upon that assumption the writer should choose the better option according to his/ her needs.

Printing Qualities of Offset and POD

If one is going to get a book with simple basic colors of text and basic images or black and white book then POD suits independent author most but this too depends on the size of paper used. However, when printing a book with complex color schemes or considerable paper size then offset lithography is the best option. As mentioned earlier, offset is great for large number of books.

The final conclusion is that the person who is going to order the print should figure if he is a self published writer and you are the distributor or you have a huge publishing company arranging big runs for you. Go with POD if you are more of the former type of person and choose offset printing if you are more of the latter one.

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