book publishing20 years ago, publishers faced the dilemma of turning away potentially successful manuscripts because there was too much risk involved taking chances on authors that were not well known. Back then, a publisher would sign an author and take full financial responsibility to edit content, format the text, design the cover and a myriad of other things to get a book ready to print. They would then commit to a print run of 3,000 to 50,000 books depending on their best guess on how well they could market and sell the book.

After the initial print run, the books were stored in a warehouse and shipped to distributors as they filled orders to bookstores and other retail outlets. If the books sold well, the publisher would order another print run of books. More often than not, the initial run of books would not be sold. The publishers would then sell the excess books to a remainder company for pennies on the dollar to recoup what little they could.

This was not a big problem for the large publishers with big budgets. If they had one successful title out of five, they could still make money. For small publishers, a couple failed titles meant financial disaster. Then came the advent of PQN (print quantity needed), POD (print on demand), short run, or just in time printing. Publishers could have smaller runs of books printed digitally. Although the unit costs of the books were higher, the risk of a failed title was smaller. Publishers could take chances on good manuscripts from unknown authors that would have been overlooked in the past. They could do galley copies and short runs of books to test the market. Instead of publishing five books, they could now publish 20 books.

This increased a publisher’s odds of finding the diamond in the rough which could mean financial success for them. Today, almost every publisher uses some sort of digital application in their business. This also brought about a wave of self-published books by authors.

Alexander’s has been printing books for publishers and authors for over 20 years. We have the flexibility of printing one book at a time up to a couple of thousand. Alexander’s gives publishers and authors easy choices that were much more difficult not so long ago.

Barry Merrell

Barry Merrell

Barry Merrell has worked at Alexander’s since 1991, and has over 25 years of experience in the print industry. In 2001, Barry transitioned from operations manager to Alexander’s sales team, where he developed the publishing specialist position. Barry works and consults with publishers all over the country, specializing in short-run books. Barry graduated with honors from Brigham Young University. He is an active member of his community, and is a member of the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. Barry is married and has 2 sons.

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