Photo showing the process of printing and binding books. On demand printing services.When authors self-publish their books, how to print them is one of the most significant decisions they face. There are numerous things to consider, including book quality, inventory, and profits.

Print-on-demand, also known as on-demand printing, is the self-publishing option that receives the most attention. It is touted as a way that “anyone can publish a book” and includes order fulfillment services.

On-demand book printing promises authors a share of the profits from their book’s sales while removing their financial investment in inventory (the cost of printing books before they are sold).

Is on-demand printing the best solution for your book?

Before you decide, it’s to your advantage to thoroughly understand on-demand printing programs and weigh them against your book and its needs. There are at least five areas to consider:

  • Advantages of Print-on-Demand
  • Disadvantages of Print-on-Demand
  • Alternate Printing Options
  • Alternate Order Fulfillment Solutions
  • How Genre May Affect Printing Method

What are the Advantages of Print-on-Demand?

Acutrack print on demand services like the one shown in this image let authors print books based on the volume needed to fulfill their book orders.Once you’ve written your book, you want to publish and sell copies to customers. The advantage of print-on-demand (POD) is handling those needs in a quick, “one-stop-shop” approach.

You upload your book’s content, format it, then sit back while someone else handles the rest.

Years ago, traditional publishing houses would print hundreds (or thousands) of books in advance before they understood how many would sell. It’s a financial gamble independent authors want to avoid.

POD’s popularity exploded because it removed the inventory cost risk of publishing your own book, and it’s been promoted as a vital ally to first-time, self-publishing authors.

Book order fulfillment and ISBNs are also considerations for authors, and POD handles them as part of the package.

What are the Disadvantages of Print-on-Demand?

Some authors might publish their books as a stand-alone, one-time project; for them, the disadvantages of print-on-demand books may be insignificant.

When you become part of a POD system from a prominent online bookseller, you’re overshadowed by it. You become a content contributor as much as an author, and there is a difference.

The big companies decide how much their book printing services cost and reduce your earnings per copy accordingly. In a sense, you become a writer working on a commission.

When POD companies arrange your book’s ISBN, they’re listed as the publisher, not you.

Lastly, and most importantly, is customer relationship building. It’s impossible to do from within a POD setup because you’re shut out of the process. If your book represents a brand or you want to publish books in the future, you cannot access your previous buyers.

A major concern about POD is the loss of customer data.

It can cost you up-selling opportunities, chances to make a brand impression, and more.

Alternative Book Printing Options

Self-publishers looking for alternative book printing options often have higher expectations for their books.

If you want improved profitability, nicer books, stronger branding statements, and an enhanced customer experience. The potential advantages include the following:

  1. Higher-Quality Printing
  2. All Book Bindings Available
  3. Larger or Smaller Trim Sizes
  4. Cover and Inside Stock Choices
  5. No Bottlenecks During Peak Sales Periods

For anyone fearing the extra effort of working outside the POD system, companies like ours at Acutrack make it straightforward and quick. You can print your book any way you want and customize it to support your style or brand image.

We call our method “Just in Time,” and you choose a reasonable number of copies to print just before you sell them.

Also, if your book sales spike during peak demand periods, we can handle the order volume, and you avoid frustrating your customers with delays.

Alternative Book Order Fulfillment Solutions

Alternative book order fulfillment solutions can provide substantial advantages over print-on-demand. They include:

  1. Sell on Your eCommerce
  2. Ship Collateral Items with Orders
  3. Keep Customer Data
  4. Offer Gift Wrapping, Signed Copies
  5. Branded Packaging Options

When you sign up for POD, you’re required to sell your book within the bookseller’s system. You become a content creator for its machine at the expense of your personal branding.

Authors operating outside the POD system can sell their books in multiple places, such as their own websites, eCommerce stores, and Amazon Marketplace.

It’s an entirely different world with you in the spotlight.

Many trainers, self-help-gurus, life coaches, and companies that self-publish their books prefer the just-in-time method. They understand the value of branding and developing direct relationships with clients.

Photo of an employee packaging products at an Acutrack book fulfillment and distribution center. Providing top quality print on demand and book binding services.

Compare the Options and See for Yourself


Fewer Printing Options

Binding Choices May be Limited

Profit Percentages Pre-Set

Books Sell Inside a POD System

Books-Only Shipping


Customized Printing

Choose Hardcover, Paperback, or Spiral

Set Your Own Prices and Profits

Sell on Your Own eCommerce and Elsewhere

Ship Collateral Items with Books

Print-on-Demand and Different Genres

If you’re printing a coffee table-size photography book, you may want to think twice about on-demand book printing services. You’ll likely want specialized paper stock and an extra-large trim size.

On the other hand, someone printing a diary, journal, or specialty book that’s often carried may want a petite trim size that POD doesn’t offer.

Every book is one-of-a-kind, and some have more specific needs than others. You enjoy more customization options when you use a professional printer and work with the just-in-time model.

Spiral bindings are another thing. Cookbooks and manuals often work much better with them. POD may not offer a complete range of binding options.

Conclusion: Understanding Print-on-Demand Services

Once you understand all the parts of the print-on-demand book production process, you have a clear picture of how it works – and the information to decide whether it’s right for you.

Choose your book printing and fulfillment method to align with your goals, and select the one that will help you accomplish the most.

Self-publishing a book is a tremendous amount of work and a long journey. Make the final decisions carefully to maximize the income and visibility it can give you.

Have more questions? Our Acutrack customer success managers are always available to help.

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