This is a guest post from Chaz Nichols, the Director of Business Development and Alliances with Snowfall Press. Chaz works extensively with our print network, especially helping international printers who are interested in plugging into the Snowfall operating system.
Publishing, as we have known it, has changed forever. And it has changed in astonishing ways, at an astonishing fast pace. The changes are huge, dynamic. But, ironically, these grand changes are best highlighted by how globally small the industry has become. In fact, the phrase, “it’s a small world,” has become a colossal understatement.
A theological professor logs into a global network, uploads the PDF of her book, and with a few key strokes starts a single copy printing on a press miles away. In a few minutes, once printed and trimmed, the book will be shipped directly to a friend for review.
A small, growing publisher is keeping its spending low and cash flow healthy using a virtual book inventory model. Books are printed, one at a time, as they are sold. Once printed the books are then shipped directly from the printer to the end-user customer. This model has given the publisher the financial strength to find profitable target markets outside of its own country – further expanding its cash flow and revenue base.
An entrepreneurial American, seeking to reach the Russian market in Northern California, logs on one night to a global print network, finds his uploaded books and initiates a print run of 50 books. By noon the next day they will be in a Mendocino bookstore ready to be purchased.
Another enterprising person, wanting to build a library of literature for a unique people group, writes all of the literature on their computer and air expresses the data to a friend – who then uploads the copy to a book printing network. In a few weeks the perfect bound books are flown back. The turnaround only took weeks rather than months.
There are two common threads of all these stories. The first is that none of the stories took place in the United States or Europe.
The seminary professor is from Colombo, Sri Lanka. The publisher is located in a Former Soviet Union (FSU) country. The entrepreneurial American is working in a closed country in the middle of Asia.
And the enterprising person is actually a missionary in Papua New Guinea. He is in the jungle most of the year and rarely gets to any location that could rationally be called civilization. By using a high frequency radio signal, he can email his desires for books to a friend and then send a memory stick to his friend when a supply helicopter lands in his village every so often. The friend can then make a PDF of the content on the memory stick, upload it to a global network and have the book printed and shipped back in a relatively short amount of time. Where there were once very few books in the tribal languages of the people this missionary serves, there is now a growing supply of literature.
The second common thread to these stories is that all these people are publishers…publishing in an astonishingly small world now…but in really big ways. The technology is so sophisticated now that it has become simple enough to be embraced by anyone with access to the internet.
And the really amazing aspect of the new publishing world is that the professor in Sri Lanka, the growing publisher in FSU country, the entrepreneur in Asia, the missionary in Papua New Guinea have equal, and in some cases better, access to printing globally than people in more developed parts of the world.
With distance measured by the speed it takes for an electronic file to traverse the internet, the world, and the publishing industry, has become very small.
What other ways can print networks be used to bring content to new readers around the world?