Just as eBooks are revolutionizing the publishing industry, so too digital technology has changed the economics of printing books on paper. Here in Thailand there was a time that 1,000 book order would be a minimum needed to print at a salable price with possibly 500 for a more expensive large non-fiction book. Of course in New York a print run of more than 100,000 is often possible with published authors because the publisher knows he can move a large percentage of these books. For the first-time author there can be no certainty in future sales, so smaller print runs make sense.
Print-on-demand (POD) has made a quantum leap in lowering the minimum number of books needed to keep to a reasonable list price. What it’s done is taken away some of the pre-printing fixed costs as well as making the printing itself more responsive to smaller runs. Basically the ready to print digital file is fed in one end of the printing press and the finished book comes out the other. OK it’s not as simple as that, but the need for the printing plates has been abolished. Of course at a certain point in the number being printed, offset printing again becomes more economic.