POD: Why it’s a good thing

March 31, 2008


After the recent, ongoing hullabaloo over Amazon’s attempts to monopolise the print-on-demand market, I thought I’d point to some interesting uses of POD that might change some peoples’ perceptions of the technology, and show it’s not all vanity presses and Lulu photobooks.

First up is PublicDomainReprints.org, a project by book geek and hacker Yakov Shafranovich, which takes texts from The Internet Archive and Google Books (over 2 million works) and automatically formats them and sends them to print. It’s a non-commercial project based on his own commercial POD company, and while (confessedly) ropy, it’s a good example of what can be done to get books which would never be available otherwise into readers’ hands.

Tikatok bills itself as a community “where kids channel their imagination into stories – and publish those stories into books for you to share and treasure with friends and family.” Writing and illustrations can be shared, and kids can choose from story outlines to help them write their own. In the end, they get to order their own printed book. I don’t know much about designing for kids, but the video tutorial in particular is quite helpful, and bound to get them off to a good start. As a way of bringing value to the physical book at a time when reading is allegedly in delcine, this really can’t be beat.

At the other end of the scale is OpenMute‘s POD system, which builds on Lightning Source’s (I think) to offer POD services to artists and writers who wouldn’t be able to set up by themselves (although the barriers are dropping all the time). As an Arts Council-funded operation, OpenMute can afford to pay to open up services like these to others, and a great job they do too. Despite the improving quality and ease-of-use of services like Lulu, the importance of organisations that bridge the technological gap can still not be underestimated.

Finally there’s the Bookmobile, which remains for me the ultimate exemplar of the benefits of POD in action. Here’s a recent video of it in action:

1 Comment

  1. […] of companies and applications, like Tikatok, that utilize Print on Demand (POD). The recent post, “POD: Why it’s a good thing,” profiled Tikatok along with several other interesting uses of the […]

    Pingback by Blogs take notice of Tikatok | nightly.Tikatok — September 1, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

Comments are closed. Feel free to email if you have something to say, or leave a trackback from your own site.