Back to Blog

Header Image

The self-publishing industry is booming, and here’s why!

Commercial printing Short runs


by Dimitri Van Gaever

The time when publishing houses held the power over what got published and what not, is definitively behind us. Writers determined to rise to authordom can now take charge of their book’s entire publishing process without having to take out a second mortgage on their house, thanks to the democratization of self-publishing. In 2008 already, the world saw more books self-published than traditionally – and we’re not just talking E-books.

Self-publishing boom

Driving a large part of the self-publishing boom are digital printing technology and print-on-demand, both of which open doors for aspiring authors as well as (small) book printers looking to make their business more cost-effective.

Bye, bye, bulk copies – and staggering debt

Being an aspiring author back in the 90s, 80s, 70s, … (did you know even Jane Austen at some point self-published?) meant one of two things. Either you lucked out and had a publishing house notice you and pay your way to stardom for you, or you decided to take fate into your own hands and cashed out on some 5000 copies, each page of which could easily cost you around 10 USD for typesetting alone (we weren’t kidding about that second mortgage in the introduction). As offset printing was basically your only option back then, ordering bulk copies of your work was your only chance of getting a reasonable ROI at the end of the day.

Quantities under 500

Fast-forward to 2017. Innovations in the field of digital printing technology have made digital considerably more cost-effective for quantities under 500, so much so that it is within the reach of virtually everyone who wants to self-publish. Additionally, print-on-demand solutions now allow authors to have their book printed and delivered only when an order has been placed. 

A great opportunity for book printers

Aspiring authors are not the only ones to benefit from print-on-demand and the increased cost-effectiveness of short runs. Recent figures indicate that book printers, too, are seeing the business opportunities that digital printing technologies and print-on-demand bring to the table. According to Digital Book Printing in Europe, a report based on extensive interviews with book printers and publishers, published by Interquest in 2015:

  • In Western Europe, the share of digitally printed books is set to increase to 14.9 percent by 2020, compared to 7.3 percent in 2015.
  • About 89 percent of book printers’ digital print volume consists of short runs.
  • 62 percent of book printers are involved in self-publishing.
  • Nearly half of the respondents considered purchasing digital printing equipment over the next 18 months.
  • Print-on-demand accounted for 8 to 9 percent of the books printed using digital printing equipment, an amount which is set to increase to 15 percent by 2020.
  • 19 percent of the respondents considered print-on-demand the best opportunity for streamlining the supply chain.

Let’s talk self-publishing … in Paris!

Can’t wait to share your thoughts on self-publishing with industry experts? Let’s meet up in Paris! Xeikon will be present at the Interquest Digital Book Printing Forum in Paris on September 27, 2017. See you there!

Can’t make it to Paris? Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or remarks.