Getting to Print, thanks to Print on Demand through Lulu!

We are super excited to have found an option that will allow us to offer print copies of Metaphysical Times Full Moon Magazine. Finally! We are still working on printing the newspaper again, but this is a huge step in the right direction!

It’s not going to look the same though. We’ve spent the past 10 months trying to figure out cost effective ways to print copies of the newspaper and the magazine and get them delivered to people all around the world. Let me tell you how hard they are to find. We are still trying to find a cost effective way to print newspapers, but I think we are heading in the right direction. If you are interested, you can read this article to learn more about why keeping print going has been so difficult, not just for us but for print newspapers everywhere.

Print on Demand has been an option for a lot of products, like coffee mugs, t-shirts, books, and even coffee (hint hint) for a while now. Not having to pay upfront for products makes managing budgets easier and reduces a lot of the costs that come with traditional product management. It is less money in the business’ pocket though.

The printing side of the publishing industry for periodicals, newspapers and magazines, didn’t move with the rest. You’ve been able to print on demand just about anything since 2007, except magazines and newspapers. Those have to be done by standard commercial printers, by ordering print runs of a set number of copies and hoping to sell out of them before the next issue publishes. Most media publishers just have to eat the cost of excess inventory and disposal issue after issue.

It’s taken some time, but even the big newspaper businesses are beginning to shift to digital only because of this. Many assume it’s just to grab money from digital readers, but it is in huge part because costs to print just keep going up and the demand for them has gone down. I can tell you first hand that it’s at least 80% because of how much costs to print increased in 2022. The remaining 20% is divided between increased shipping costs, reduced subscription numbers, writers and editors needing better pay to keep working, and to sustain some profitability for the business so it can be used to produce the next issue. Even the deepest pockets have bottoms.

Print on demand would solve a lot of it, but the commercial printers aren’t shifting to to it. There aren’t really any small companies out there who have picked up and started doing it either. We’ve looked. We are working on that, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

Lulu has changed that, for magazines at least. They now offer the option to print, sell, and distribute magazines through their channels just like they do paperback and hardcover books using their Print on Demand business model. The publisher earns royalties from every copy sold, there are no upfront costs to create an account or magazines, and copies are only printed as they are ordered.

They are the only platform, as of December 2022, to offer the option on a fulfillment platform that I have found. Amazon doesn’t offer it (their Terms of Service actually prohibits publishing a magazine as a book through their print on demand service), and neither does Ingram Spark, yet. Ingram Spark will distribute them if you publish on a platform that utilizes their distribution channels (which is what LuLu does).

There are a few downsides to this set up. For instance, instead of being paid 100% of each print copy that we then send to the printer with a little bit left over to cover other costs, payout is in royalties and is substantially less (20-30% of list price). Payment is accumulated over time and sent as a lump sum up to 60 days later. They don’t offer a subscription service. More people will end up buying copies from Amazon, where we will lose the most money per copy. Setting up the system and working out all the bugs will take a few issues.

On the upside, this will drastically increase our visibility around the world without costing us a fortune in advertising costs and time on google and social media platforms. We will be able to get on bookstore shelves and in libraries even without direct contact because the magazine will be available in the Ingram Spark Global Catalog where retailers look and order from frequently, and on Lulu’s own marketplace. This will give us additional revenue streams from sales at outside retailers, and increase our advertising prospects as our visibility grows.

We really can’t wait to hold the first copy of Metaphysical Times Full Moon Magazine! We hope you can’t either!

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