Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology whereby new copies of a book are not printed until an order has been processed. “Print on Demand” developed after the advent of digital printing, because it was not economical to print single copies or short runs using traditional printing technologies, such offset printing.

Many small presses have replaced their traditional printing equipment with POD equipment or contract their printing out to POD service providers. Many academic publishers, including University presses, use POD services to maintain a large back list; some even use POD for all of their publications. Larger publishers may use POD in special circumstances, such as reprinting older titles that have been out of print. While the unit price of each physical copy is higher than with offset printing, the average cost is lower for very small print runs, because set-up costs are much higher for offset printing.

POD publishing has other benefits besides lower costs (for small runs):

– Set-up is usually quicker than for offset printing.
– Large quantities of books don’t need to be kept in stock, thus reducing storage, handling costs, and inventory accounting costs
– There is no waste from unsold books (a big problem for traditional magazine publishers).

The end result means low risk for the publisher and an opportunity to print specialty books with a traditionally small target audience. It also allows for higher quality finished than were traditionally afforded by long run printing.