Print-on-Demand Guide

Print-on-Demand Guide

A reference for setting up an open textbook print-on-demand service

Lauri M. Aesoph


Victoria, B.C.



Open Creation: In Progress

This guide is currently in the An open creation is an original work that is in progress, but publicly viewable and openly licensed. Editable files are provided during the creation stage. Below is a list of the tasks left to complete.

Last updated: September 18, 2018

All file types last exported: September 18, 2018

To provide feedback, email


About This Guide

This is one of many support guides from BCcampus Open Education. It is designed to supplement our main resource: the Self-Publishing Guide [New Tab].

Welcome to the BCcampus Open Education Print-on-Demand Guide. This support resource provides the what, why, and how of creating a printed copy of any openly licensed textbook found in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection. These same steps can be used to create a print-on-demand textbook from other collections providing you have access to the correct file types.

BCcampus Open Education began in 2012 as the B.C. Open Textbook Project with the goal of making post-secondary education in British Columbia more accessible by reducing students’ costs through the use of open textbooks and other OER. BCcampus supports the post-secondary institutions of British Columbia as they adapt and evolve their teaching and learning practices to enable powerful learning opportunities for the students of B.C. BCcampus Open Education is funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training, and the Hewlett Foundation.

Open educational resources (OER) are defined as teaching, learning, and research resources that, through permissions granted by the copyright holder, allow others to use, distribute, keep, or make changes to them. We consider this publication — along with our guides, webinar slide decks, and other support materials –as a type of OER that trains faculty, staff, and students how to build, customize, and use open textbooks.

This guide does not come with an index. Instead, use the search field located in the top-right of each page in the online version to locate a specific topic.

The BCcampus Writing Guidelines for Style and Tone and BCcampus Open Education Style Guide, along with the attached style sheet [Word file] – to be added, were referenced during the copy editing and proofreading phases of this toolkit.

If you find an error in this toolkit, please report it using the Report a Textbook Error form. For other feedback or comments, fill out the BCcampus contact form.




Many open textbooks are available online or in other digital formats. However, sometimes, students and instructors prefer to use a printed, bound textbook. This guide allows you to address three of David Wiley’s “5 R’s of openness” : retain, reuse, and redistribute.

This Print on Demand Guide provides information on the what, why, and how of creating your own hard copy textbook of any openly licensed textbook found in the BC Open Textbook collection. However, these same steps can be used to create a print on demand textbook from other collections providing you have access to the correct file types. 

In addition to cost to students, one of the biggest advantages of choosing an open textbook is it gives faculty and students the legal right to retain and make copies of the textbook without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. This is possible because the copyright holder has already granted permission by releasing their work using an open — or Creative Commons — license. This type of license gives users permission to use and reuse, share, copy, retain and modify the textbook without consulting the author.

expand this section




If you adopt this book, as a core or supplemental resource, please report your adoption in order for us to celebrate your support of students’ savings. Report your commitment at

We invite you to adapt this book further to meet your and your students’ needs. Please let us know if you do! If you would like to use Pressbooks, the platform used to make this book, contact eCampusOntario for an account using

If this text does not meet your needs, please check out our full library at If you still cannot find what you are looking for, connect with colleagues and eCampusOntario to explore creating your own open education resource (OER).

About eCampusOntario

eCampusOntario is a not-for-profit corporation funded by the Government of Ontario. It serves as a centre of excellence in online and technology-enabled learning for all publicly funded colleges and universities in Ontario and has embarked on a bold mission to widen access to post-secondary education and training in Ontario. This textbook is part of eCampusOntario’s open textbook library, which provides free learning resources in a wide range of subject areas. These open textbooks can be assigned by instructors for their classes and can be downloaded by learners to electronic devices or printed for a low cost by our printing partner, The University of Waterloo. These free and open educational resources are customizable to meet a wide range of learning needs, and we invite instructors to review and adopt the resources for use in their courses.


What is a Print-on-Demand Textbook

Print-on-demand, or PoD, is a service or process by which individual copies of a textbook or other documents, usually available as digital files, can be produced. Prior to the digital age, providing individually printed and bound books was prohibitively expensive.

Print on demand with digital technology is used as a way of printing items for a fixed cost per copy, regardless of the size of the order. While the unit price of each physical copy printed is higher than with offset printing, the average cost is lower for very small print runs, because setup costs are much higher for offset printing.

PoD has other business benefits besides lower costs (for small runs):

These advantages reduce the risks associated with publishing books and prints and can lead to increased choice for consumers. However, the reduced risks for the publisher can also mean that quality control is less rigorous than usual.Retrieved July 6, 2016:



Coming soon….


CC BY-NC (Non-commercial) Licences

This page is in progress.

Is a bookstore or other print on demand service, permitted to print and bind open textbooks or other OER be if it is an NC license attached?


Why Create a PoD Textbook

This page is in progress.

There’s a need. More faculty than students…

We want to create easy access to print-on-demand open textbooks. Currently, students and faculty can order PoD books from SFU DocSol or other services for some books (e.g. Amazon for OpenStax). However, these suppliers cannot always provide a printed copy as quickly and cheaply as some students or faculty would like. One solution is to encourage/educate college and university bookstores to take on this role. The advantages include:


Familiarity and value.

  1. Physical, printed open textbooks displayed or offered in a bookstore, provides greater visibility for these resources.
  2. Placing printed open textbooks along side hard copies of traditional textbooks in a bookstore, normalizes them; makes them familiar; helps students and faculty become more comfortable with them.
  3. Having a printed open textbook along side a traditional textbook allows students to more easily do a price comparison, and see the value of OTB.
  4. Making printed open textbooks more available will likely increase their usage.



Page in progress…


What do the stats say? (PoD numbers for BCcampus Open Ed, for example.


Faster and Cheaper

This page is in progress.




Control and Flexibility

This page is in progress.




Reselling Used Copies

Coming soon…


How to Create a PoD Textbook

Add content…



This page is in progress.

Bookstores, specifically those affiliated with a post-secondary institution — college, university, institute — often have an existing print-on-demand (PoD) service onsite.

Can choose to print only a select number of chapters depending on what the student or faculty needs/wants. Don’t pay publisher prices for this sort of customization.

Or can have a faculty member who has revised an open textbook, that she/he doesn’t plan to share with the broader community, and have printed for a reasonable cost.




This page is in progress.


Faculty may also see a need to have a hard copy of an open textbook on hand.

One pager for faculty

  1. What they need to do if they want bookstore to provide printed open textbooks for their course
  2. What they need to do if they want a revised version of an open textbook available as a PoD through the bookstore
  3. How to inform their students
  4. Housekeeping: deadlines when bookstore needs this information, etc.



This page is in progress.


Decide if they want:



This page is in progress.



Open Textbook Cover Toolkit

This toolkit can be used by authors publishing their own open textbooks to create a book cover for their open textbook. Bookstores providing print-on-demand services for open textbooks can also use the toolkit to create book covers for open textbooks which do not have one.

The open textbook cover template in this toolkit are different than typical textbook cover instructions and templates because the templates and all images used to create them are either released with an open-copyright licence (CC BY) or are in the public domain.


Toolkit Explained

What is the toolkit?

The Open Textbook Cover Toolkit has been created to give authors options to create book covers for the open textbooks they are writing and/or publishing. This toolkit has been created by BCcampus and released with a CC BY licence.

Book cover elements

Essential items for your book cover are:

Additional elements:

Other items that could be include:

Contents of the toolkit

The toolkit contains three book cover styles to choose from:

A template file for each of these styles has been provided for you to copy or modify.

Template attribution statement

The textbook cover templates have been designed by Robyn Humphreys, Digital Designer for BCcampus, and are covered by the CC BY licence under which this guide is released. It is recommended that the attribution statement for the template is placed on the textbook’s copyright page as follows:

The template used to create this textbook’s cover is by BCcampus and used under a CC BY 4.0 International Licence.


How to Use the Templates

Template Files

There are two types of files:

Visual Guide

The Visual Guide will help you see the elements of the book cover so you can copy their styles, size and placement. If you do not own or have access to Adobe InDesign, then you may use another program that you are comfortable with.

Please note: Whichever program you use, you will need to export your cover to a JPEG image file to upload into Pressbooks to make the cover. Microsoft Word does not export to a high enough resolution to be usable. 

InDesign Template

InDesign is a layout program created by Adobe. If you own the program or have access to it, you can download the template and edit it with your book’s information. You can also modify the template to personalize your book by changing the fonts and colours used. If you have selected the photo or graphic template then you can modify those elements as well to suit your book. If you are not an InDesign user, but have hired a designer to create your book cover, you may pass the template onto them to modify.

Book cover styles

There are three book cover styles to choose from:

  1. Simple: colour cover and text
  2. Graphic: pattern background and text
  3. Photo: image and/or pattern background and text

Each book cover template has a screen or print version. The print version includes a spine and back cover. This is not required for screen viewing.

Book cover final files

When exporting your finished cover choose:


If you decide to use the Graphic or Photo cover template, you can find a list of openly-licensed and public domain graphics (vectors) and image [New Tab] in the BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide.


When choosing an image for your work, you need to decide if you will be using it for print or for screen. Images for print require a larger resolution than images for screen.

See the Textbook Cover chapter [New Tab] in the Self-Publishing Guide for detailed information on choosing an image.

Attribution statement

Attribution may be required if you are:

For more information on best practices for composing an attribution statements, see Attributions [New Tab] in the Self-Publishing Guide.


Visit Creative Commons [New Tab] to learn about the various licensing types. Creative Commons licences may be attached to content you wish to use or you may want to choose a licence for your own work.


Textbook Cover Templates

Find the files for download below.

The Visual Guide is a pdf file that gives you an example of how you can design your book cover if you are using a different program than InDesign. There are notes — accessed by hovering over the dialogue icons  — in the file that show size and placement of the book cover’s elements. The below example uses red arrows to identify the location dialogue icons for one of the textbook cover templates.

textbook cover

Look for the dialogue icons for notes about how to use this template

The InDesign Template is an InDesign file that you can use and/or modify to your liking.

There are three options for both the Visual Guide and InDesign file, depending on your needs.

Visual Guide



InDesign Template




Appendix A: PoD Services

This page is in progress.


Independent PoD Services – list


Appendix B: Pricing Guidelines for Bookstores

Coming soon…


Appendix C: Easy PoD Reference

This page is in progress.



Appendix D: Style Sheet

Add this to a Word doc for posting in “About This Guide.”

General Guidelines




  1. The first and the last word of the title
  2. Principal words such as nouns, pronouns (such as “you”), adjectives, verbs and adverbs
  3. Prepositions and conjunctions of four letters or more
  4. Lowercase the “to” in an infinitive (e.g., I want to play guitar)

Lists / Bullets

*Note: Complete sentences require a subject, verb and complete thought. If one of these components is missing then it is a sentence fragment.



Procedural documentation

Example: From the “File” menu, select “Open”. In the “Open” text box, enter the URL below, substituting either ‘’ for server-address, and your UT EID for eid.


Versioning History

This page provides a record of changes made to this toolkit. Each set of edits is acknowledged with a 0.1 increase in the version number. The exported files for this toolkit reflect the most recent version.

If you find an error in this toolkit, please fill out the Report an Open Textbook Error form.

Version Date Change Affected Web Page
1.0 November 17, 2016 Guide added as an open creation to the B.C. Open Textbook Collection.
1.1 February 16, 2018 Added Open Textbook Cover Toolkit Open Textbook Cover Toolkit