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MATCO ELECTRONIC PUBLICATIONS

Presents

Articles of Interest to PC Entrepreneurs

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Any of these articles may be republished by other newsletter, magazine or ezine publishers as long as they are posted intact with all credits. If you are an author and would like an article added to this list, email the article in HTML format to mtims(at)matcopublishing.com
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Print-on-Demand for Bigger Profits

by

Michael A. Tims

When Gutenberg first converted a wine press into a printing press in the 1400's, printing a book
was a long tedious process. The printer had to set the type for one page and then print as many of that page as they had paper for and was practical. Each page was hand set and printed until all pages were done and the hundred or so books could be bound. Even back then, it would have very impractical for the printer to print just one copy of a book at a time.

In modern times, even after high speed printing presses were being used, it was still impractical and prohibitively expensive to print just one copy of a book, as needed.

Along came the personal computer and high quality laser printers, capable of 600 dpi (dots per inch), 1200 dpi and even higher densities. Many laser printers had duplex attachments available so you could print on both sides of the paper at one time and finally, they developed powerful desktop publishing software capable of formatting a complete book with the proper layout, font type and size, style, etc.

Not only was it now practical to print one copy of a book, as needed, the costs could be kept to less than a few cents per page. Not only could one copy be printed faster and cheaper than before, the output was as good, if not better, than offset printing.

Before digital printing (or print-on-demand) a publisher would have to guess at how many books to print in the initial 'run'. Usually the number of prints would be in the thousands to get the cost per copy down to a reasonable cost. What a waste of resources, capital and space. All those books just sitting in a warehouse somewhere until an order came in for 1, 2, or a dozen or so copies of the book.

When I finished my first book, I couldn't afford to have thousands or even hundreds of copies printed to just sit in my garage waiting for a sale now and then. I contacted several publishers, but they either wanted to charge me an arm and a leg to put my book in print (they call these vanity publishers) or they were willing to purchase the rights to my book for a few cents royalty per copy sold.

Personally, I thought my book was pretty good so I thought that maybe I could self publish it. There was only one problem. I didn't have any extra money for a good laser printer with duplex attachment, desktop publishing software, etc., that I thought I needed.

Then I thought, "Why not publish my book on computer disk?" What a concept. A floppy disk costs only about $.40 each when purchased in quantity. If I could sell my book for $29.95, that would be a profit of $29.55 on each copy or 7387.5% profit. Not bad at all. These books-on-disk have come to be called Ebooks or Virtual Books also and are becoming more popular.

I found a shareware program called DART which was a virtual book authoring program and it worked just great. It was easy to format the chapters of my book so that all a reader would have to do is type "book" at the DOS prompt and be taken to the table of contents of the book. Another click on any of the chapter headings would take the reader directly to that chapter. It was even more convenient to use than a printed book.

Even though I sold quite a few of these virtual books through the internet and on America OnLine, I still felt that I was losing sales because my book wasn't in print form. People were just too reluctant to pay $29.95 for a book on floppy disk even if it did contain the same amount of information as a printed book.

Since I wanted to expand my Information Mail Order Business into selling Trade and Information Directories anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a laser printer and everything else I would need for self publishing. Credit cards are so convenient. First I purchased a Hewlet-Packard LaserJet 4 Plus which is a 600 dpi printer and does a fine job. I was also able to purchase a Duplexer attachment for this model. Other printers would probably have been as good, but not all have duplex attachments available for them. Keep this in mind when shopping for a laser printer.

For desktop publishing software, I decided on Corel's Ventura Publisher which was originally developed by Xerox and later purchased by Corel. Maybe I should have gone for a more powerful program such as Adobe PageMaker (Estimated Street Price $490) or Quark Express (ESP $730), but I couldn't justify the higher cost of the more powerful programs. Besides Ventura Publisher (ESP $150) has been able to do all the Publishing chores I have come across so far, so I have not been sorry for my choice.

It did take me a little time to format all 101 chapters of my book in Ventura, but once I was done, all I had to do was print out a copy of my book when I wanted one. There was one hitch, however. My old 486 computer was so slow that it took over 45 minutes for Ventura to do its job of formating before sending the pages to the printer. This is too slow for print-on-demand.

I solved this by first printing the book to a file instead of the printer. Now when I wanted a copy of my book printed, all I had to do was issue the following command at the DOS prompt, COPY /B C:\BOOK\BIZBOOK.PRN LPT1. The /B is for binary, the C:\BOOK is the sub directory where the book file is located, BIZBOOK.PRN is the name of the book file and LPT1 is my #1 (laser) printer port.

By printing from the Ventura Publisher Formatted File, I reduced my print time to less than 6 minutes for a complete 282 page copy of my book. I even designed a front and back cover which I have color copied at Kinko's on 11 by 17 inch card stock. Now whenever I receive an order for a copy of my book, I print a copy from by book file, fold a cover and glue it along the spine with a hot glue gun, creating a complete, professional looking book in about 10 minutes.

What are the costs to print on-demand? Well the paper costs more than a floppy disk, but still reasonable. About 1 cent a sheet when purchased by the case and the Laser toner runs about 1 cent per printed page. This puts the cost of my 282 page book at about $4.23 plus $2.90 for the cover, making a total cost of $7.13 per copy. I still get $29.95 per copy for the printed edition, and so it still figures out to be a respectable 320% profit per copy. Still not bad.

The number of printed copies that have been ordered has more than justified the cost of the hardware and software and since I have also incorporated the same print-on-demand philosophy with my new Trade Directories, Moose Lodge and other organizational directories, the equipment has more than paid for itself. I print these directories as I receive orders, from a computer database (where all my information is stored). With print-on-demand, the information is always up to date since the database is continually being updated with fresh information being added or information deleted that is no longer relevant.

The best part about print-on-demand is that I make $22.82 on every sale of the printed edition of my self published book while the best offer I received from a big name publisher was only 7% royalty on the retail price which would only have been $2.10 on the retail price of $29.95. I think I can safely say that print-on-demand is the more profitable way for the self publisher to go whether it is full length books or one or two page reports they are selling.

AUTHOR PROFILE Michael A. Tims is a full time high school math teacher but has run a mail order business as a sideline for over 20 years. Being a self taught computer NUT, one of his passions has been to find unique ways to use a PC to enhance or enable a small business venture.

Mr. Tims has written numerous magazine articles on PC basics and using a PC in business and is the author of the self published book, "101 Computer Related Businesses", as well as a syndicated column called, "PC Biz of the Month".

Visit his new web site at www.matcopublishing.com and let him know what you think of it. This and other articles about using a PC for small business applications may be read at www.matcopublishing.com/articles.htm


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AUTHOR PROFILE 

Michael A. Tims is a retired high school math teacher but has run a mail order business as a sideline for over 20 years. Being a self taught computer NUT, one of his passions has been to find unique ways to use a PC to enhance or enable a small business venture.

Mr. Tims has written numerous magazine articles on PC basics or using a PC in business and is the author of the published book, "101 Computer Related Businesses", as well as a syndicated column called, "PC Biz of the Month".

Visit his new web site at www.matcopublishing.com and let him know what you think of it. Many other articles may be read at www.matcopublishing.com/articles.htm

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