Print’em When You Need’em

More and more publishers (and niche authors) see the wisdom of print-on-demand. Here’s an excerpt from a piece from the Tennessean about a TN-based business, Lightning Source, where future copies of Slow Road Home will be born.

Benefits of print-on-demand include the ability to extend the life of a book that has gone out of print and reduce costs by eliminating the need for storage of printed books.

Publishers submit an electronic version of the book to print-on-demand companies such as Lightning Source, which store it digitally. It can then be printed in units as small as one copy as needed.The on-demand printing process, which doesn’t involve traditional printing plates, and uses toner instead of ink, is similar to laser printing, in which the digital data is directly imaged to the page.

“It’s completely changed our cash flow, our business model, because it’s allowed us to no longer have to print our goods upfront and then sell them on the back end,” said George Johnson, owner of Information Age Publishing in Charlotte, N.C.

From humble beginnings with three employees, Lightning Source has grown into a company with a staff of 455, operating out of 160,000 square feet of office space in La Vergne and with operations also in the United Kingdom. Since its inception, the company has printed 40 million books. It has 500,000 individual titles stored in its digital library, and 4,500 publishing partners.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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