What is Print-On-Demand and what does it mean for libraries?
Most books the library acquires for the general collection are published by traditional publishers, who agree to publish a book based on merit, the reputation or authority of the author, and sales potential. Examples of traditionally-published books are textbooks, reference books, books by university presses and most best-sellers.
Some authors may chose to "self-publish" a book, where a printer or middle-man agrees to print whatever manuscript the author delivers for a fee paid by the author. These companies will print anything the author wishes to publish, so the quality of self-published books is often very low. While some notable and successful novels began as self-published works, many self-published titles are of interest to few people besides the author. Companies that publish works without screening or editing them are often called "vanity presses".
Print-on-demand (POD) is a publishing term for making a physical copy of a book only when ordered by a customer (usually through an online vendor like Amazon.com). POD technology allows authors to release self-published works without paying high up-front costs, so this technology means more people are able to print "short runs" of books for a small group of people, such as family histories and photo albums.
POD technology also means a publisher can legally reprint an out of print (OOP) title in the public domain, sell a few copies and make a small profit for little risk. Unfortunately, this also means there is an incentive to sell content like wikipedia articles, government statistical data and books scanned by the Google Books project without informing the book buyer of the exact origin of the material reprinted in the book.
USP library has made this list available so that librarians, faculty and online book buyers can recognize whether a book is from the traditional publication process or the POD/self-published/reprint process. While there are many POD companies serving a need by reprinting OOP titles desired by scholars and libraries, many produce shoddy or incomplete works. Where we have seen physical samples of a particular publisher's work, our comments are noted after the publisher's name.
This list will always be incomplete, as new POD publishers appear very week. Being on this list is NOT necessarily an indication that the information in the book (or the book itself) will be of poor quality; it is simply to inform book purchasers about the origins of the book they are considering. Authors solicited by these companies should be aware of what support and services the publisher is likely to provide versus a traditional publisher.
Additionally, scholars looking to publish work in open-access journals should take a look at the excellent Beall's List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers to avoid dealing with the many fraudulent OER publishers that have appeared in recent years.
Print on demand publishers
AkashaPublishing.Com – also called Akasha Classics
AlphaScript - reprints Wikipedia articles
American Biographical Institute
American Book Publishing (Salt Lake City, UT)
Ancient Wisdom Publishing
BiblioBazaar – Seems to be another name for BiblioLife
Betascript: Part of VDM Publishing
Blurb: self-published titles, especially (but not limited to) photo books.
Books LLC or Books Group reprints Wikipedia articles
Books on Demand GmbH (reprints E-books from Grin.com and probably other e-publishers)
BiblioLabs – Another name for BiblioLife
BiblioLife – some of their materials are reprinted ok, others very poor quality.
BookSurge (now Createspace)
Classic Books International –reprinter
Cosimo Classics –reprinter
Createspace - Self-publishing arm of amazon.com, may also be used by some small-presses who publish traditionally edited works. Also appears to be reprinting some OOP public domain classics like Booth Tarkington’s “Alice Adams”.
Commonwealth Publications (Canada)
Dodo Press - Imprint of of Book Depository, UK company. Provides free downloads, but materials frequently are missing portions of original material.
Doyen Verlag - Part of VDM Publishing
Ecco Print Editions (by Gale)( Gale has entered into an agreement with BiblioLife to produce Print on Demand versions of the works from the Gale Digital Collections, starting with the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Part II.)
Emereo Publishing- another repackager of online articles/wikipedia entries. Seems to specialize in study guides for professional certifications and celebrity biography.
Famous Poets Society
Fastbook Publishing Part of VDM Publishing
Forgotten Books (forgottenbooks.org) –reprinter
Genbooks.net (public domain material)
General Books LLC (aka generalbooksclub.com) – OCR scans of out-of-print books, formatting not cleaned up before printing. Very unattractive packaging.
Hephaestus Books- Reprints Wikipedia articles
Hilliard and Harris (Boonsboro, MD)
ICON Group International- Creates "data dump" books from wikipedia and other internet sources on a keyword like "boot" or "Solomon": doesn't even attempt to distinguish between alternate senses of a word like "Sampler". Most titles have "Webster's Timeline History" in the title. There are over 170,000 titles in the :Webster's Timeline History" series listed in Amazon.
International Business Publications (Washington DC): Publishes expensive reference books compiled from Wikipedia, CIA world factbook and other freely accessible online sources
International Library of Poetry (aka poetry.com)
Kessinger Publishing- Reprints out of print titles and works scanned by Google Books in editions with bright yellow unappealing covers. Also notable for attempting to remove online access to public domain works they’ve reprinted and reprinting out-of-print works that are NOT in the public domain.
Lambert academic – reprints Master’s theses and other Academic papers submitted by authors.
Lightning Source – POD for Ingram publishers. Appears to be reprints of OOP traditionally published titles, but be aware that the more recent copyright date listed may not mean an updated edition.
Lulu- self-published titles, especially (but not limited to) photo books.
Martino Publishing –reprinter
Million-books.com (public domain material)
MooreBooks (part of VDM Publishing Group)
Nabu Press- reprints OOP/pre-1920's material, sold through Amazon.com. Books often have stock photos on their covers that do not match the content at all (for example, a photo of a wheat field and railroad track for a book on Samoan history)
Northwest Publishing (Utah)
Nova Publishers (aka Nova Science) - reprints scholarly public domain material and solicits recently-credentialed scholars to submit book chapters for academic monographs. Not exactly a self-publishing enterprise, but books do not go through a standard academic peer review process despite their academic focus.
Oak Tree Press (Taylorville, IL)
Obscure Press - photocopied original rebound –reprinter
Park East Press (Dallas TX) (formerly Durban House, formerly Oakley Press)
Pedia Press (Wikipedia publishes under this name)
Performance Arts Press- Self-publishing/vanity press
PFH Publishing (Canada)
Pierides –Reprints that include illustrations; keeps the formatting/font of original text (similar to Dover books). The book we ordered looks attractive enough, but has NO bibliographic info to assist catalogers; the only way to know who published this volume was looking at the order record, as “Pierides” appears nowhere on the cover, title page, etc.
Quill Pen Classics
Rare Books Club (public domain material)
Replica Books is the POD arm of book wholesaler Baker&Taylor.
Richardson- UK-based reprinter of public domain out of print history and religion titles.
Richter Resources Publications –reprinter
Royal Fireworks Press/Silk Label Books (Unionville, NY)
SBPRA/Strategic Book Publishing/Eloquent Books (Boca Raton, FL--formerly known as The Literary Agency Group and AEG Publishing Group)
Simon and Brown –reprinter
Sporting Gentlemen Publishers –reprinter
SterlingHouse Publisher (Pittsburgh, PA--imprints include, among others, Pemberton Mysteries, 8th Crow Books, Cambrian House Books, Blue Imp Books, Caroline House Books, Dove House Books, and PAJA Books)
Tate Publishing &Enterprises (according to Wikipedia, there are at least three companies called Tate Publishing; the others include a reputable art publisher and a defunct software book publisher)
Tebbo - Reprints wikipedia articles on computer networking and security topics, often authored by a "Kevin Roebuck".
Trafford –Canadian Reprint house
Ulan Press- reprints OOP/pre-1920's material, sold through Amazon.com.
Unlimited Publishing LLC
VDM Publishing also doing business under dozens of other names. VDM Verlag publishes dissertations, theses and academic research projects: books are not peer reviewed.
Webster's Digital Services - Reprints Wikipedia articles
Whitmore Publishing Company (Pittsburgh, PA)
Wiki Editions (public domain material)
Xlibris- One of the larger companies.
Xulon Press- self publisher primarily for Christian titles.
This list was compiled from many online sources, including librarian Dawn Loomis' Libguide on recognizing POD publishers, this wikipedia list of self-publishing companies, and Writer Beware, a blog for authors from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.