“POD is really not about printing, it’s really a distribution model”

shares David Taylor, Senior Vice President at Ingram Content Group in conversation with Varsha Verma.

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David Taylor is Senior Vice President at Ingram Content Group and looks after Ingram’s print-on-demand activities outside Ingram’s US base. These include the Ingram-owned Lightning Source businesses in the UK and Australia and the two joint ventures in France and in Sharjah,UAE. His responsibilities also include Global Connect, the network of print-on-demand supply arrangements with partners in ten countries including India where Ingram works with Repro.David has worked in the book trade since 1983 when he started as a bookseller on the shop floor at Blackwell’s in Oxford.

Here, he shares more about their operations in India, through their partner Repro and more.

AABP: Can you provide a brief overview of Ingram POD services?

David: Ingram is the global leader in print-on-demand (POD) through our well-established Lightning Source service and operates as part of Ingram Content Group along with our wholesale, distribution, library supply, and digital content services. Our POD service operates on a global footing with our own plants in the USA, the UK, and Australia; we also have joint ventures in France and Sharjah, UAE and a network of supply arrangements via our Global Connect service in ten other countries, including India. We have many millions of titles from tens of thousands of publishers in our POD catalogue, which are linked to wholesale and reselling channels around the world, and we work with over 40,000 booksellers of all sizes and shapes.

Essentially, the true POD model can print one book at a time when there is a demand for that book. This allows publishers to sell the book first and then print it—a major shift from the traditional publishing model. The benefits of this are considerable: no sale is missed because the book is out of stock; books can be kept in print and available forever without the need to carry physical copies; books can be printed on demand in a market rather than shipped around the globe—reducing transport costs, cutting carbon and growing sales by allowing speedy supply to a customer—and many more!

I would add that POD is really not about printing, which may sound strange. It’s really a distribution model and has allowed the reengineering of the global supply chain for the printed book to the benefit of authors, publishers, booksellers, wholesalers, distributors, and perhaps most importantly of all, the reader, who now has access to millions of titles that might never have been available.

AABP: How do you perceive the current state of the Print on Demand market in India in general and publishing in particular?

David: POD in India in its purest form has already delivered many benefits to Indian publishers, distributors, booksellers, authors, and readers. Indian publishers are now accessing the benefits for their business that I outlined above; in addition, many are taking advantage of access to other global markets by making their titles available to booksellers via the Ingram network. Indian booksellers are benefitting from immediacy of access to millions of titles in the local market, manufactured on demand via Repro, our Indian partner in our Global Connect network. Indian readers are also benefitting of course! India is a great example of how the arrival of a POD model can be transformative on the domestic book industry.

AABP: What trends or changes do you foresee in the coming years in the POD industry?

David: At Ingram, we are able to observe these trends globally and there is a remarkable consistency about them. Individual countries and markets will move at varying speeds for all sorts of reasons, but we see broadly the same trends. A growing number of titles are entering the POD supply model; more publishers are using POD to manage not just their supply chain domestically but also to access the wider world and deliver export sales at a much more efficient and lower cost; an explosion in the availability of world languages, which are able to be delivered and made available to diasporas (and the Indian diaspora is a great example); more books being brought back to life from the out-of-print graveyard; the continuing reduction of carbon due to stopping speculative inventory from being printed and moved around the world; an ever strengthening growth in independent and self-publishing—our own IngramSpark service is a great example of that. The technology around digital printing, binding, and finishing continues to improve, and it is now next to impossible to spot the difference between a digitally printed book in a POD model and an offset printed book.

AABP: Brief us about your arrangements with Repro in India?

David: Repro is part of Ingram’s Global Connect network. We have a supply arrangement with POD companies like Repro that are capable of single copy POD to the standards that Ingram has, and that can offer those titles for sale in a wholesale transaction to local booksellers. In addition, our colleagues at Repro can offer access to the global Ingram network to their own local Indian publishers.

We enjoy a great relationship with Repro, which has been in place for several years.

AABP: What percentage of business comes from book publishing?

David: 99.9% of our POD business is concerned with the printed book. Ingram Content Group is one of the largest distributors of books globally and our POD service is an integral part of that offer.

AABP: What are your future plans for Indian market?

David: We think that there is very great potential for growth in the Indian market! We plan to make more and more books available for Indian booksellers and readers to have access to via our Global Connect relationship with Repro. In addition, we are keen to allow more Indian publishers in both English and local Indian languages to have access to the global market and make their books available for sale. This latter option is much more efficient and less risky than more traditional export models. We are very happy with our relationship with Repro and have no plans for any other Global Connect partnerships in India.

AABP: Sustainability is the keyword for all business. Your comments with respect to POD.

David: POD model has many benefits when it comes to sustainability. The removal of the need to print speculative stock and the ability to print in a market rather than ship from another country are two huge benefits that not only allow a better use of capital and a reduction in shipping costs, but also helps to reduce the carbon footprint. It’s quite revelatory to calculate the carbon footprint for a book and POD is a fantastic way of ensuring that we as an industry are playing our part in helping counter climate change.

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