Print on demand (POD) has yet to become mainstream. However, things may change as Bartells adopts this new form of publishing.
Since the University Bookstore houses the closest POD service, I made a field trip to meet Mr. Espresso. Once there, I took the position of a prospective consumer and surfed the computer dedicated for his use. This computer serves as a portal to the UW bookstore and University website. Therefore, POD publications are categorized like any other publication. No dedicated portal exists that displays solely POD text. This complicates the buyers experience and makes a visit to the help desk necessary.
Before a publication can be made available through Mr. Espresso, one needs to make an appointment with the master barista, or self publishing coordinator. A $25.00 set up fee is required to send an electronic submission review, file upload and single copy print. Interestingly, the electronic copy is deleted from their system unless additional copies are requested. Price of additional copies depend on number of pages. Design, formatting and file conversions are optional services. By the way, the bookstore reserves the right to refuse publication and change publication fees.
According to staff, the best way to purchase a POD would be to contact the bookstore first by phone or in person. Doing so ensures that a copy will be available prior to pick up. Expecting Mr. Espresso to print the book ‘on demand’ is unrealistic at best.
In conclusion, I am undecided as to whether or not to use POD. As the user/consumer experience likely differs from Third Place Books and Bartells, I will wait and see how they set up their printing services, particularly Bartells as they reach a larger audience. Having a search dedicated to solely POD by subject, key words, etc. would greatly benefit both author and consumer. Let’s hope Bartells establishes a more user/consumer friendly process.