On demand printing, is a printing technique and a business process. This method of digital printing consists of offering quickly and in small quantities (sometimes a single copy) works which if printed traditionally would require an excessive investment.

The advantage of on demand printing lies in particular in the speed with which such products can be printed (immediately if necessary) and in the fact that it enables very small quantities to be printed at a low cost, thus avoiding heavy stock constraints (storage space, management of returns, shelling of unsold products, etc.).

Born from digital printing and the generalization of personal computers, on demand printing can be used for the printing of books as well as various e-commerce dropshipping products such as clothes, mugs, name card, company chop, cushions, etc…

Financial Benefits

On demand printing makes it possible to order a copy of an out-of-stock book online or at a bookstore, which will be printed and shipped by the publisher himself within hours of receiving the order. In this way, both the publisher and the bookseller free themselves from any problem of storage and replenishment. Fund securities are available at any time and a book is never sold out.

Today, it is even possible to have copyrighted books, the digital file of which is made available to booksellers who are equipped with the appropriate machine, but also works that have fallen into the public domain and are freely accessible in free databases such as Google Books or even personal works provided on a computer medium such as a USB stick. The book can be printed in less than ten minutes.

On demand printing also allows traditional publishers to reprint low-cost short runs of low-demand titles corresponding to firm orders as well as niche works aimed only at a targeted audience by limiting their financial risks.

Since the offset printing of books is very expensive below 1,000 copies, on demand printing allows for very small prints at much more advantageous prices and some formerly purely digital publishers now offer a paper version of their files.


By having your book printed online from a digital file, you can become your own publisher. The printed result is similar to a commercial edition and less expensive than the author-owned edition. You can even market the ordered copies and deliver them yourself, but some important printing structures can also manage the promotion and/or logistics of sales if necessary (taking orders, tracking deliveries, and invoicing). Other companies, that outsource printing, offer on demand printing, promotion, and logistics of sales of their customers' works.

On Demand Printing Machines

The most sophisticated printing machines are:

  • The Xerox Espresso Book Machine, which allows you to print books every minute, in a single copy, at specialized outlets open to the public (bookstores, libraries, cultural institutions, etc.). This printer/binder/clipper the size of a large, professional multifunction photocopier is also used to print certain books ordered online.
  • The Kodak Prosper 6000 range of inkjet presses, which can be up to 28 meters long, are capable of printing works of a quality similar to that of offset printing. Other smaller models, such as the Kodak Prosper 1000, a 14-meter-long inkjet press, now equip state-of-the-art printing facilities for small, medium and, large publishers.
  • The HP inkjet presses, huge machines also capable of printing works of a quality similar to that of the offset, are destined to replace the current offset presses.