Dead stock or wastage are the curse of businesses around the world. It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, if you are a business that is forced to hold stock or supplies of any sort, you will know the tightrope walk that is the balance between ensuring that you don’t run out of essential items that are in demand while not overstocking at the same time.
If this is not a concept with which you are familiar, let’s spell it out in simple terms. Imagine you sell milkshakes on the beachfront. On an average day, you sell 500 milkshakes and in order to do this, you need 200 litres of milk. But summer is coming, and you know that demand will increase. What do you do? You need to make sure that you buy more milk so that you don’t run out. If you run out of milk in the middle of the day you lose out on significant profits. So, let’s say you double the amount of milk you normally have only for unseasonal rain to hit – suddenly your milk is turning, and it needs to be thrown away - the profit you had anticipated has been turned into a horrible loss.
This simple example can be applied to almost any scenario where stock is held, but we are here specifically to look at the publishing industry, where for decades publishers have walked the tightrope trying to gauge what volumes of each book they need to print and hold. Some classics are safe bets – Great Expectations has sold at a steady rate for the last century and will probably continue to do so for many decades to come. But what about newer titles? When it was finally decided to release Go Set a Watchman, the sequel to Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mocking, it was probably a safe assumption that it would sell wildly. Indeed, it did initially sell well such was the anticipation around it. But despite the quality of the writing, it turned out to be something of a flop… The publisher was potentially horribly exposed with thousands or even millions of copies warehoused and unshiftable.
But there is good news… That is how things used to be in the publishing industry. It doesn’t need to be like that anymore. And here is why.
Perhaps the best way to introduce the print volume solutions that are available in South Africa is to check in with us, Print on Demand one of the top local providers of the service. On our website we explain it clearly as, no matter who you are, “an author, self-publisher or publisher, then printing volume is the best model for your in-demand titles. This is an ideal way to get maximum reach in the market.” We go on to explain that we have printing capacity of more than 6000 pages per minute as well as the ability to do bespoke jobs, to print variable quality, to do quality control and to ship in large or small quantities in order to help take care of order fulfilment.
What we do is print the exact number of copies that you need, as you need them to ensure that dead stock is not something you ever need to worry about again. And if you think that deadstock is not really an issue, here is some illuminating evidence otherwise from journalist Stephen Moss who writes in the Guardian: “I paid a visit to TBS Returns in Manningtree, Essex, which handles about a third of all the books that head hopefully for bookshops but are never sold. They come back here - 25,000 a day, more than 6 million a year - to be assessed. Most are destined to be pulped. Almost 10% of all newly published books end up being shredded!”. That’s a lot of money going down the drain!
To find out more about this revolution in printing do a simple online search for something like ‘volume print South Africa’ to find a service provider near you. Although it should probably be said that the solution provider you engage with doesn’t even need to be near you. Due to the marvels of the internet, your service provider could actually be based anywhere. Find the right price points and engage online – your solution can be provided from anywhere.
We spoke earlier about the tightrope that must be walked to ensure the balance between too much stock and not enough. This solution, in case we haven’t made it clear enough yet, solves that problem instantly. You no longer need to plan months ahead. Given the speed of the printing and the efficiency of the distribution, you can simply print and ship as the orders come in. To go back to the milkshake example of earlier, it’s a bit like having a meadow of cows behind the milkshake store. Every time you receive an order you simply pop out back and milk a cow. Print on demand solutions like we are talking about are just a whole lot faster and a lot more efficient. Gone are the days of giving products away at cost or below just to clear space in the warehouse – it all translates to a much more efficient business model.
The solution that is demonstrated here takes all the risk out of publishing. Sure, there are no guarantees that you are going to get rich – there are a lot of variables and things that need to happen for that reality to materialise, but what this solution does mean is that the risk of getting poor, or bankrupt, is largely removed. With the ease of operation and no risk involved in holding huge quantities of unmovable stock, this is, in a sense, the answer to many publishers’ prayers.