POD, E-Book, E-Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Some Other Book Publishing Terms
Book publishing is changing quickly. As a point of reference for other blogs (and to be elaborated on and updated as publishing continues to change) here are some definitions of key terms and one note.
- POD—print on demand; print-on-demand technology allows very small quantities of print-on-paper books to be produced at a time. In contrast with the past, this can mean not having to estimate so finely future book sales and warehouse many books; POD is an option now for all publishers.
- e-book—electronic book, in other words, in digital format rather than print-on-paper format. Some e-books replicate the printed book format, but others are called enhanced e-books, which add to the format.
- enhanced e-book—an electronic book that offers an experience that is more or different from what could be found in a print-on-paper book. One example could be adding music or video. In some ways, enhanced e-books are like the CD-ROMs of yesteryear.
- e-publishing—electronic publishing of books, magazines, and other communications formats, rather than in a print-on-paper format. Some books might be printed as both e-books and traditional print-on-paper formats.
- traditional publishers—a catch-all term for publishers who take the following approach: when the publisher accepts a manuscript for publication, the publisher commits to the editing, designing, physical production, release to the public, distribution, and marketing of a book. The traditional publisher-author contract typically specifies an advance payment from the publisher to the author based on estimated sales and later royalty payments based on actual sales (expressed as a percentage). Traditionally, the author is expected to write and revise his or her manuscript and take part in any publicity tour. The other costs and responsibilities are taken on by the publisher.
- vanity publishers—a term used to describe publishers that publish (print and release to the public) books under contract to the writer and paid for by the author. Vanity publishing has had the reputation as the last hope for authors rejected by traditional publishers.
- self-publishing or independent publishing—terms for publishing that is neither with traditional publishers nor vanity publishers and in which the author takes control and responsibility for every aspect of publishing. While widespread self-publishing is relatively new, self-publishing has a long history.
Note that the distinctions between publishers (e.g., vanity vs. self-publishing) and the merits of any one business model are subjects of hot debate right now. That said, we must make careful distinctions about
- publication formats
- business models
- the many resulting variations in publishing choices now available
For example, traditional publishers might now publish a book in both e-book and print-on-paper formats; some of those print books might be POD. For another blog about key questions in book publishing, see Books: Burning Questions … and Some Answers and More Questions.