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VOL. 36 | NO. 21 | Friday, May 25, 2012

Ingram’s Lightning Source gives authors, publishers flexibility

By Hollie Deese

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Chances are the last time you ordered a book from Amazon, it wasn’t sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting for the click of your mouse to find a home. More than likely the printing process didn’t even start until after you made the purchase.

Publishers have always wanted to offer their customers what they want, but the idea of books sitting on the shelves can scare them away from green authors with no history of sales.

But all of that is changing as more publishers are shaking off the old way of doing things and embracing the new print-on-demand model that enables anyone to sell a printed copy of their book.

“You can publish a book without having to pay for any printing costs,” says Bob Hutchins, owner of online media company BuzzPlant and user of print on demand for his book. “Print on demand allows you to only print books as you sell them. The most expensive thing you have to do is write it, format it and promote it. If it sells, it goes to print and ships out.”

LaVergne-based Ingram Content Group is considered to be one of the leaders in this changing face of publishing. Part of their line of services is Lightning Source, an inventory-free on-demand print and distribution service that gives them the option to print books in any quantity, even just one.

Other local publishers, including Nashville’s Thomas Nelson, are even moving more and more of their titles to Lightning Source.

That sector of Ingram’s operation is growing so fast that it opened two new facilities in the U.S. and one in Germany in March. Lightning Source’s Larry Brewster told NPR last month the company prints 2,500 pages a minute using Lightning Source.

The benefits to authors are clear. Consumers also benefit because of their access to any number of titles thanks to the infinite storage space.

And for publishers struggling in a changing industry, it could be the lifeline that gets them to the next phase.

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