By David Gewirtz
Right after I started my first publishing company, the very first book I ever published was both an exercise in risk and in faith. Back then, to publish a book, you had to be prepared to pony up something on the order of $20,000 to print 5,000 copies. Most of my savings and a lot of credit card debt financed that first book.
This was in the days before the big book superstores and way before Amazon. If you wanted your book distributed, you had to do a deal to get it into B. Dalton and Waldenbooks (remember them?). And to be able to do so, you'd have to have enough inventory so each store across the country could stock a few copies.
Of course, if the books didn't sell, they'd rip the front covers from them and return the remaining husks back to you, destroyed specifically to make sure you couldn't resell them. It wasn't a fun business. Due to both pretty good management and fabulous timing, I sold out my first print run, but I found the stress of taking such a large risk on printing to be very unpleasant.
Today, the entire world has changed. First, you don't have to distribute through 2,000 stores to sell your products. You can completely disintermediate the process and sell directly to your own customers through the Internet. And, the printing world has changed radically. You can now print books, calendars, and more "on-demand", one-at-a-time to satisfy each individual order.
We decided to illustrate the use of print-on-demand technology by demonstrating the creation of our first Connected Photographer calendar, shown in Figure A.FIGURE A
Here's the 2007 David Gewirtz Connected Photographer calendar. (click for larger image)
In addition to the printing on-demand process, we'll show you how you can offload the fulfillment process (taking, packing, and shipping orders). To accomplish this, we used CafePress, a service that specializes in on-demand production.
In this article and the next few, we'll take you through the process of selecting the images, setting up the online store, and creating the calendar. The final product is spectacular in terms of both production value (paper, printing, image quality) and, if I say so myself, the images inside. In fact (shameless plug), you can go ahead and order your own at http://www.cafepress.com/zatz.86008744.