On-Demand for Dummies

I recently bought a book. An honest-to-goodness, printed-on-paper book. And, I bought it in a small, local bookstore.

This summer, I had been fascinated watching the Tour de France, and struggled to understand all the events within the overall event. I went to Amazon to find a book that would help, but quickly found that I really needed to thumb through the actual books to see which one I wanted.

So, I went to one of the big chain bookstores and found lots of books about Lance Armstrong and some about the Tour itself, but they mostly told me what I had already figured out. I decided my best bet was “Tour de France for Dummies” and that I would support my local bookstore—Written Words in Shelton, CT.

The store owner, Dorothy, explained that this was a print on-demand book. She could order it, and I’d have it within the week. This was interesting: I had thought that one-off, print-on-demand production was the province of Amazon, and was still not very prevalent. And, being a paper guy, I was fascinated. Where was it printed? What paper? What press?

Dorothy had some other on-demand books in the store and she showed them to me. She said they were different; the covers were glossier.

When my book came in it looked great. We compared it with other “Dummies” books, and they certainly looked alike. The bright yellow bands and the yellow type in “For Dummies” were an excellent color match, and the solid black background was perfect.

On a closer examination, the cover of the on-demand version did indeed look glossier, while the black on the offset version was a bit deeper. In addition, the text paper in the on-demand version was whiter and brighter, similar to the copy paper I use in my office.

Jack Miller is founder and Principal Consultant at Market-Intell LLC, offering Need to Know™ market intelligence in paper, print and packaging. Previously, he was senior consultant, North America, with Pira International.

Known as the Paper Guru, Jack is the former director of Market Intelligence with Domtar, where he also held positions as regional sales manager, territory sales manager and product manager. He has presented at On Demand, RISI’s Global Outlook, PRIMIR, SustainCom World and at various IntertechPira conferences. Jack has written for Printing Impressions, Canadian Printer, Paper 360, PaperTree Letter and Package Printing, along with publishing a monthly e-newsletter, MarketIntellibits.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from The College of the Holy Cross and has done graduate studies in Statistics and Finance.

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