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Part of the delicate balance of publishing used to lie in knowing how many copies of a book needed to printed for a single run. Publishers played an educated guessing game about how many copies would sell, how many were needed for review copies and how many would sit for months in distribution warehouses. The ratio with the highest profit margin usually was the winner in this guessing game.
Print on demand publishing at sites like InspiredIntermedia.com has changed the game by removing most of the guesswork. One of its greatest glories has been the flexibility to print only the quantities that are needed when they are needed. There are no distributor costs or worries that excess copies will represent unrealized profit or collect dust.
Another gift this form of publishing has given authors is greater choices for content. The average citizen has been empowered to create something as formal as a textbook for courses or something as informal as a graduation memory book. Publishers and writers are no longer at the mercy of the big publishers who have traditionally decided what gets published and what goes into a slush pile. They see their own words in print on their own terms.
There is a level of additional responsibility that comes with the conveniences of print on demand. Writers now must assume the burden of quality copy. Unless they hire professional editors to do this work, they are accountable for text that is poorly written and facts that have not undergone copyediting. For many writers, this is a small price to pay for the freedom to publish without approval.