Offset Printing – Traditional way of printing using big presses for big print runs. Offset printing makes sense for non-traditional trim sizes or any printer run of over 1,000 units. The cost per unit is a lot cheaper but the upfront investment is much higher. (Inventory must be managed – make sure you have a warehouse!) Print on Demand (POD) – POD uses digital print technology to print just in time inventory (JIT). All publishers have some form of POD program. POD is only to manage inventory. (If small press or self-published author decides to POD, it should be an inventory decision not a financial decision!)
Vanity Presses – Vanity Presses are companies that specialize in self-publishing programs. In recent years they have co-opted the term POD term to give themselves more credibility. Most Vanity Presses will provide your ISBN and have the capability to take your book from manuscript to finished book.
Co-Publishers – Co-publishers design their programs so they are “sharing costs”. For most Co-publishers, the term “co-publishing” is actually just a fancy way of not calling themselves a vanity press. However, there are several quality co-publishers out there that can help a new author get their book packaged and ready for sale.
Distributor – Distributors are companies hired by publishers that will warehouse, fulfill and sell your book. They will take a percentage of your sales and a percentage against your returns. Most distributors have a sales team that actively sells your title (IPG, NBN, etc.)
Fulfillment House – A fulfillment house will pick, pack and ship your book. They will also ensure your book is available at the major wholesalers (Ingram, Baker & Taylor) and Amazon as well as the .com sites (bn.com, target.com, wal-mart.com, etc). They will also handle all of your billing and collections.
Warehouse – A warehouse picks, packs, and ships your book only. Some warehouses handle billing but many do not. Major publishers tend to have their own warehouse services.
Wholesalers – A company used by retailers and libraries to supply books in a timely and efficient manner. The number one place any self-published author needs to be! If you’re not listed at Ingram and Baker & Taylor, you cannot be ordered easily by bookstores and libraries.