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.