Many libraries offer electronic publishing services for journals and books, but some librarians encounter pushback from faculty, students, and staff who put a premium on physical, printed copies of published works. Fortunately, print-on-demand services can easily address those concerns without requiring significant investment or overhead.
Authors may have any number of reasons for preferring printed publication of their work over electronic. They may associate printed works with higher quality scholarship, want physical copies to share with colleagues, or may just have an emotional connection to print materials. But when subscription or sales revenue won’t cover the substantial overhead involved in printing and distribution, a publisher may simply choose not to publish the work at all, or to only offer an electronic version, much to the dismay of the author.
Enter print-on-demand. Several Digital Commons subscribers use lulu.com to offer a “best of both worlds” model to assuage print-loving authors. Works are made freely available through the institutional repository, but authors and readers have the option to order a low-cost, high-quality version through a print-on-demand vendor. Since the vendor handles printing, shipping, and payment (and takes a percentage of profits to cover their costs), neither the library nor the author incur ongoing costs for these services; they even stand to earn a small revenue from sold copies. By offering print-on-demand, libraries are able to offer the enormous benefits of open access online distribution of scholarship without disappointing authors or readers who still prefer a tactile reading experience.
If you are interested in offering print-on-demand services for works published in your Digital Commons repository, contact the bepress Consulting Services team for information and assistance.
See the below for some examples of DC customers offering print-on-demand services: