Fast-print.net at LBF 2012 | Printers Are Not Publishing Services

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A few years ago TIPM did do a full review of Fast-print.net (owned by PrintonDemand Worldwide)and I later withdrew the review from the magazine for reasons explained here. So it was interesting when I learned a few months ago PrintonDemand would be a primary sponsor of the event. I should add that the PrintonDemand booth was an entirely separate stand in the main hall of Earls Court. Fast-print.net had a very prominent presence in the Author Zone at Earls Court for the three days of LBF 2012 with seminars most mornings and afternoons.
The above video feature is Simon Potter from Fast-print.net giving one of the seminars on Tuesday 17th of April. Most of the seminars followed the same pattern over the three days with Potter showcasing Fast-print.net with a later cover design session in the afternoon. I’m uncomfortable with a number of perceptions about self-publishing presented here by Potter and Fast-print. Firstly, Fast-print is one of a number of digital printers operating in the UK – and there are many in the USA and other countries – presenting what they do as a ‘complete solution’ for authors looking to self-publish a book
 Sure, I don’t for a minute question the print product Fast-print can turn around for an author, but Fast-print – at their seminars and on their website – far too often present what they do for an author in almost childlike terms and ridicule the traditional publishing industry. I’ve actually no problem with someone, or a company, taking the industry to task as to how it operates. I do it month-in month-out here on these pages. I do it because I actually care about the industry and how publishers need to change and treat their authors better. I do it because authors looking to self-published a book need to understand what is entailed in the whole process, and the process of printing and using print materials as part of a marketing plan in part and parcel of that.
Printing a book alone is not the means to publication and success as a writer. In essence – Fast-print – is only a part of the overall management of a book project, and as with this company, the answer to what you get is in the name of the company.
Simon Potter talks a good salesman’s delivery in the video above, but his seminar for self-published authors is typical of so many printers turned ‘self-publishing services’ for authors. I’ll emphasize this point once again for those new to TIPM. POD (Print on Demand) is a wonderful print and order technology for authors and publishers who don’t want to indulge in any upfront print costs with a built in drop and ship mechanism, but often it is not the option a serious author or small press should ever consider.
Despite the changes in the book industry and the rise of ebooks, print remains the dominate format of sales. Authors or publishers have to deliver stocks of physical books to wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and at the outset – physical copies for review, promotion, author signings and interviews. The POD print model is utterly adverse to book returns and the truth is that booksellers will not even entertain stocking titles listed on their databases as POD. If a printer is uploading their data through Lightning Source (via Ingram) and Nielsen Bookdata and submitting your book to National libraries – that’s great, but it isn’t selling a single book or placing books on shelves. That’s called listing and availability. Book distributors and their reps sell books, though many authors do choose to use online marketing to sell their books or incorporate upload of their book to Kindle or platforms like Smashwords. I doubt if a single person at Fast-print has ever worked in a publishing work environment, and that is the case for most printers presenting themselves online as self-publishing solutions. This is like turning up at your favourite restaurant and asking the waiter to cook your meal!
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