Print on Demand (POD) is a printing technology and business process in which copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received, allowing books to be printed singly, or in small quantities. While build to order has been an established business model in many other industries, "print on demand" developed only after digital printing began, because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.
The increase in popularity of Print on Demand has been to a large extent fuelled by companies such as Amazon, which has an affiliate company called CreateSpace which handles all its POD requirements. it is a safe bet that the vast majority of print books you can buy from Amazon are made available on a POD basis. CreateSpace has also pioneered the online upload facility in which a book can be uploaded via the website, is checked for technical issues, and then made available on Amazon, and in CreateSpace's own online bookstore for sale.
This technology is relatively new in South Africa, and SA Catholic Online has been among the "early adopters' of the technology - all the books on offer on our website are available on a "Print On Demand" basis.
Print on Demand vastly reduces the risk for publishers /authors, as it is no longer necessary to print vast quantities of books to achieve lower print cost, and sit with a warehouse full of books.