Ingram Content Group has announced a new “standard color” pricing model for print-on-demand technology that has reduced costs by roughly two-thirds, making color POD an economical publishing option for the first time. Achieved through advancements in inkjet technology, the price drop means that a greater range of book content can be printed in color and done faster around the world.

Depending on the exact dimensions of a book, color POD for a single 120 page trade paperback would previously run in the general range of $12-$13.50, making such books prohibitively expensive. Standard Color reduces the cost of a single book to the general range of $4-$5, with a short run of 500 books pricing out at below $3/copy for a 6”x9” trade paperback.

Phil Ollila, chief content officer, Ingram Content Group, said “high-speed color inkjet printing is poised to be a real opportunity for publishers looking for more efficiency in book manufacturing and the print supply chain overall." Lightning Source will roll out the new technology immediately at its Tennessee facility and at its Pennsylvania plant by year’s end. Look for the technology to be in use internationally by early 2013.

The price drop was accomplished by what Ingram described as an “innovative high-speed inkjet solution,” that they said yields a very small drop in print quality. “We just finished a preview of some books,” said Gayle Cantrell, a sales rep with Ingram Content. “We looked at five of the books in Standard Color and the same five books in Premium color. There’s just not a whole lot of difference.”

Initial reactions from the creative community expressed a need to see print samples and an optimistic sense that this may be a game changing event. "We now live in a publishing environment without gatekeepers or economies of scale,” proclaimed Josh Elder, account director at iVerse Media, a digital content vendor, and a small press publisher on his own. “Get ready for a whole lot more genius than we ever imagined existed."

"If they expose this service with an API, and maybe an affiliate program for sales, I could see a lot of software developers adding instant POD functionality within their web comic content managementsystems and/or tablet apps," said Joey Manley, president, Comics Division at E-Line Media.

Laura Baldwin, president of O'Reilly Media, which participated in beta testing the new color technology, said, "POD is an integral part of O'Reilly's publishing strategy. I’ve seen the first editions off the press, and the quality is excellent. In a changing market, Ingram’s new color POD gives us another option to bring more color books to more readers worldwide while simultaneously lowering our costs.”