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electronic publishing on demand (EPOD)

Electronic publishing on demand (EPOD) is the use of a digital printer to create a book. EPOD books often have relatively small print runs, even single copies, sometimes causing the method to be derisively referred to as vanity publishing.

Modern printers are able to print a 300 page book in less than a minute and then bind it in less than five minutes. Books may be sold and then printed, the inverse of the traditional model in the publishing industry. Exceptional efficiencies of scale are attained by this method, as publishers no longer have to maintain inventory, deal with remainders or disappoint readers or authors with out-of-print books. An author can publish a book without high traditional upfront costs, lowering the barrier to market entry.

As a result of these efficiencies, electronic publishers are able to offer authors considerably higher royalties than those generally found within the traditional publishing industry -- as high as 50% in some cases. Authors may also retain the rights to their books, instead of ceding them to a publisher. Content may also be distributed as an eBook or formatted for download to PDA s or digital media players. Content is stored in a digital format, often as a collection of standards, including PDF , TIFF or PostScript files.

On the down side, authors using EPOD may be entirely responsible for marketing and promoting their content to traditional distribution channels. Competition within the EPOD industry is exceptionally high, making it quite difficult for independent authors to put titles on the shelves of bookstores or find librarians willing to add the book to their collections. Limited templates and design options offered by electronic publishing houses may also detract from a book's acceptance within the market.

While highly developed search engines and distribution sites, like the iTunes Music Store, have proven popular for music downloads and are now beginning to see success with video content, similar vehicles for EPOD distribution are still maturing online at sites like Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

This was last updated in March 2011

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