If you are curious about how on demand printing works then this article is for you. We will explain everything you need to know, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of this printing technique.

Offset vs. On Demand Printing

Costs and Efficiency

Since the middle of the 20th century, offset printing has been the preferred method for commercial book printing. The process consists of printing a document on an aluminum plate. The ink is then applied to this plate, after which it is pressed against a thick sheet of rubber. The rubber, in turn, is then pressed against the paper introduced into the press. This method makes it possible to produce large quantities of books at low prices and high quality.

However, this method is not economically viable unless large quantities are printed, due to the costs of installing the presses.

Naturally, this poses a problem for most self-publishing authors. Most people are not confident about investing several hundred dollars in printing many copies of their book. Who knows if anyone will buy your book, after all?

This is where the on demand printing comes in. After placing a book printing order, the order is directly sent to your on demand printing supplier, who will produce the book and deliver it directly to you.

The printing process is entirely digital, which means that it is much faster and much cheaper than installing an offset printer. This means that the cost per pound is lower, up to about 300 copies, above which offset printing starts to be profitable. In other words, this makes on demand printing the ideal method for printing small batches of books.

Environmental Aspects

Another problem encountered with offset printing, closely linked to the requirement of large quantities, is that of environmental waste. The International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies (ISSST) estimates that about 65% of the CO2 emissions of the publishing industry come from paper consumption. They also estimate that up to 35% of all printed books remain unsold. That’s roughly the equivalent of 637,000 passenger vehicles driven for a full year!

By eliminating the need for such a large stock, on demand printing is, therefore, one of the main solutions capable of minimizing the environmental impact caused by paper waste.

The Benefits Of On Demand Printing

This brings us to the advantages of on demand printing over offset printing:

  • There is no minimum order quantity. You can even order a single copy if you wish. This is ideal if you want to order a sample to check your final product. After all, can you imagine ordering 500 copies of your book only to realize that your meticulously crafted cover, which was so beautiful on your screen, looks dull in real life?
  • Flexibility. As there is no minimum order quantity, you will not need storage space for extra copies. At the same time, you will never run out of stock! If you need more copies before a book presentation, for example, you just need to click on a button. It also means that you can easily make changes to your manuscript on the fly, if necessary.
  • Fast delivery times. With offset printing, delivery times tend to vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of the book and the number of copies ordered. On the other hand, on demand printing offers fast delivery times usually between 5 and 7 days.
  • Quality books at low cost. Your readers will see no difference in quality between an offset book and an on demand printed book.
  • Respectful of the environment. As there is no minimum order quantity, there is no stock management and no large unsold quantity. Combined with the ability to make adjustments instantly, this minimizes the waste of paper that occurs due to excess stock and printing errors.