"Q. What is the quality of a print-on-demand book? A. The quality is identical to what you would purchase in a book store."
I saw this statement on a print-on-demand web site recently. Please note that current technology does not allow a POD book to be identical in quality to a normally printed book you would purchase in a bookstore. Most experienced readers can tell a POD book from an offset printed book just by the resolution; for those of us with poorer eyesight, we can tell the difference by looking through a magnifying glass.
POD books are still printed with dot technology. Such technology cannot equal offset printing. The quality is getting closer and closer every day, but it is not there yet.
Now, for most practical purposes, a POD book will stand up next to an offset printed book pretty well. Most naive consumers won't be able to tell the difference. And POD books are books in most every other way.
POD books certainly have their place in this world, especially for first books from unknown authors, family memoirs, reprints, limited edition books, books that need to be updated often, and other books with a limited market. At some point in the sales cycle of a book, though, if it is selling, you need to switch to offset printing for better prices, finer detail, your selection of quality paper, and sometimes better binding.
I've used POD publishing to print my book, The Self-Publishing Hall of Fame, because I'm always adding new people to it. I also, of course, make it available as an e-book, which is always more up-to-date because it's my working file while the POD book is updated only once or twice a year.
I love POD publishers and authors. I have nothing against either. They serve a great purpose. Plus they have certainly expanded the market for my book, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. I sell many copies to POD publishers and printers. Plus I speak at several conferences sponsored by POD publishers.
The one thing POD publishers have done well is to make it possible for so many new authors to get a book published. To open the doors to the publishing world to these new authors. It's now possible to get a book published for very little upfront cost. Offset printing, because you need to buy in quantity, often sets the bar too high for entry into the world of self-publishing.
That's why I heartily support POD publishers and authors. They are changing the world of publishing, one book at a time. I have written an article on why bookstores should support POD books and authors. Check it out here on my web site: http://www.bookmarket.com/tipblog2.html.
I think it's appropriate to celebrate POD and e-books during August, especially since it's National Publish Your E-Book Month!
If you'd like to locate some great POD and e-book publishers and providers, check out http://www.bookmarket.com/ondemand.html.