When it comes to POD, there are the print shops which can print almost any file you bring to them, the major POD platforms like LSI and CreateSpace, and then there was Paperight, which was trying to bridge the two.
This South Africa-based tech company had been working for the past several years to develop a platform where publishers can license their books to be printed by participating print shops.
That platform launched last year, and while we all had high hopes it hasn't worked out as well as Paperight had hoped. Yesterday Paperight announced that they will be turning off the lights at the end of the month:
Six years ago, I began work on an experiment: if there are copy shops in every corner of the world, what if they could legally, easily print out books for their customers? We could put every book within walking distance of every home.
I still believe in that idea, but I’m sad that we couldn’t make it viable at scale. This month, we’re closing Paperight. Our particular implementation hasn’t worked out: we just couldn’t sell enough books to keep our doors open.
Given that Amazon has a very similar idea integrated into Createspace, I would argue that Paperight failed because their network wasn't viable on its own but could work as part of a larger POD platform.
As I pointed out earlier this year when I speculated that Amazon was working on a compact POD machine, not all of the books produced through CreateSpace are actually printed by CreateSpace. As one author who discovered this detail explains, some copies are out-sourced:
So I called CreateSpace to tell them about the defect on the Amazon.com copy. ...
What I learned from the (very nice) CreateSpace customer service rep was that my member orders placed directly with CreateSpace get printed in CreateSpace’s own South Carolina facility by CreateSpace’s own team. When I order from Amazon.com, in order to provide that superior shipping turnaround, Amazon sources the print-on-demand printing to other print-on-demand service providers. In the case of my slightly defective copy, this was a printer in Kentucky.
It's not clear how large Amazon's CreateSpace partners are, but as you can see Paperight and CreateSpace came up with very similar ideas (although with the Paperight platform, the print shop can also act as a salesman).
The platform will be operational until the end of the year, after which anyone who wants to use this type of platform will need to roll their own. They can start with the source code, which has been posted on GitHub.
image by Ryan McCullah