Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The P word

Pop quiz:

1. What does the abbreviation POD stand for?

That’s it. Just one question.

If you answered “print-on-demand,” you are excused from class today. Enjoy.

If you answered “publish-on-demand,” stick around for the review, please.

Print-on-demand is a digital printing technology available to all publishers. It competes with offset printing. Frankly, the technology has gotten good enough in the last couple of years that it can be hard to distinguish digital from offset printing. There are financial considerations that would lead a publisher to choose one or the other. There are no moral considerations. There are plenty of reputable companies where you can buy digital printing.

Publish-on-demand is a phrase introduced by vanity presses to disguise the nature and purpose of their business and to confuse and mislead authors. I’ve said it before, as have many others, and I’ll say it again. Vanity publishing is not self-publishing. You’re the publisher if you own the ISBN. Otherwise, someone else is the publisher. Don’t let the fancy Web sites with the carefully crafted blather persuade you otherwise.

But if you want to deal with a vanity press, at least know what you’re getting yourself into.

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