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Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

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Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby Dashanna » Tue Jun 27, 2017 11:39 am

IE where the customer buys a book direct from Lulu, who provide the logistics of printing and posting, from a pdf or text the author has uploaded?
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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:58 pm

I don't know of anyone offering that service, and I doubt the profit margin on a single CD sale really support that kind of one-off approach as a viable business.

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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby CS70 » Tue Jun 27, 2017 1:55 pm

Dashanna wrote:IE where the customer buys a book direct from Lulu, who provide the logistics of printing and posting, from a pdf or text the author has uploaded?

I dont know Lulu so not certain what you refer to but CD Baby might just do that - keep a number of CDs in a warehouse and sell them to customers (or at least distribute them in shops). I don't use that part of their services tough so you may want to check yourself.
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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby Dashanna » Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:06 am

I suspected as much, but thanks for confirming.

Lulu works very well for book publishing, calendars, etc - they make 20% of each book sale.
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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby Dashanna » Tue Jul 04, 2017 8:53 am

Ah, still looking at various pressing options, given up on POD - and this pops up:

https://www.edithouse.co.uk/disc-on-dem ... publishing

Seems to be someone doing what I was asking about, after all.

(With the curious limitation that audio data has to be posted on CD rather than uploaded...)
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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby BigRedX » Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:20 am

As someone who has been involved in the technical aspects of both book and CD production, there are many reasons why books work pretty well for POD but CDs don't; the main one being the complexity of the production process of CDs and their packaging vs books.

Books are easy to produce. There are only two parts the pages and the cover and, for a non-hardback book, both are produced in the same way. Book production has been largely automated for decades, so once high volume plateless computer controlled presses had become sufficiently cheap and reliable, then printing a single copy of 500 different books is no more complicated or costly than printing 500 copies of one book, and POD for books is very economically viable.

Producing a CD and its packaging is a vastly more complicated process. For a start there are two different process involved - getting the audio data onto the CD and then printing all the different components that go to make up the packaging. Then finally all these different components have to assembled to make the finished CD in its case. The printing process for the CD on-body is completely different to that of the rest of the paper parts. Also there is the issue of quality. For POD your CD will be a duplicated CDR. From the PoV of longevity and robustness there is no way a CDR can compete with a glass-mastered manufactured run of CDs. A CDR is only a temporary solution, it might be fine for most of Europe and North America, but in many other countries the life-span of a CDR that is not kept in climate-controlled conditions can be measured in months rather than years. For books these days there is little difference in quality between good quality digital printing and litho for text pages and you are unlikely to open your POD book one day to find that all the words have disappeared.

The other major issue will be what happens when you need to scale up you production run. As I said earlier, with digital printing, for the printer there is little economic difference between printing short runs of lots of different books and a long run of a single publication (these days you need to be talking production runs in four figures before you reach the cross-over point). With CDs that figure is a lot lower; somewhere around the 250 unit point; where it becomes cheaper to produce 500 manufactured CDs. I don't know about the POD CD producer that you linked to but I doubt that they are also set up for full-scale CD production as well as one-off CDRs. If you had the money, it would be interesting to see what would happen if you put in orders that added up to 500+ of a single title. I've home produced low-run CD releases myself and I would struggle to get more than a couple of hundred copies produced in a day and that's with fairly simple packaging and doing nothing else all day!

Also looking at the POD CD link you posted, when you analyse it, the choices are very limited. The best appears to be a clear jewel case with a 4-page booklet and double-sided tray insert. And they are not particularly cheap - this option costs £3.85 per unit. Looking at various CD production web sites, for about the same price I can get 100 copies of my CD with the same spec, and for £550 I can get 1000 CDs glass mastered and replicated with the same packaging.

In light of these figures POD CDs simply don't make economic sense for either the producer or the customer. My experience as an artist is that the majority of CDs sold by independent bands/artists are at gigs and even then you are going to struggle if it costs more than £5. People simply don't buy a lot of CDs from small artists on-line. These days they are most likely to stream your music on Spotify or Apple Music and perhaps buy a download version if they really like your album. In many ways streaming is the equivalent of POD for music.

I have to ask why you are so keen to find a POD producer for CDs, as opposed to getting a small volume run produced the traditional way or simply going to one of the aggregator services and getting you music up on all the download and streaming services?

Finally the reason why your POD CD producer is asking for you send a physical CD of the music is because they are simply going to clone it when they run off each POD copy. That way they don't have to worry about track gaps, IRSCs, CD text etc. If you want those things on your CD, it is up to you to add them to you master before you send it to them. It's then up to the customer to produce a suitable master CD and there's no come-back to the POD service if the CDs don't perform as expected. You could upload a DDP file but I doubt whether their average customer has even heard of it, let alone have the software to create one.

Sorry for the massively long post, but I hope it goes some way to explaining why very few CD POD services exist and why they are so expensive per CD.
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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Jul 04, 2017 4:33 pm

Big Red X has covered many of the important points...

However, there are plenty of people doing short run CD duplication as opposed to longer run replication. Most of these will be using duplication towers where the same data is burned on up to 10 CD's (or more) simultaneously. These people won't be interested in doing one offs.

However others are using a single drive with auto loading and automatic on body printing which, given the right control software, could handle what you are asking. The problem is that it would take a fair amount of investment in software and hardware to make it sufficiently automated to make it worthwhile.

Now that some places are offering glass mastered replication for quantities as low as 100, I really can't see the attraction of duplicated discs for anything but tiny runs of discs.
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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby petev3.1 » Tue Jul 04, 2017 6:32 pm

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Re: Is there a CD version of Lulu print-on-demand?

Postby Dashanna » Fri Jul 07, 2017 5:06 pm

Thank you all for that clear information - all points taken.

The issue with this project, though, is that I doubt if it'll sell even 2 copies.
The music is freely available online, anyway, and I wanted to at least offer a physical disk as a possible option.

Obviously 100 properly stamped discs is the best option of all, though I suspect they'll be insulating the loft if I do go that way.
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