I had a terrific phone conversation yesterday with Peter Hornsberger of Cold Tree Press, based here in Nashville. Peter, a native of Vermont, is a veteran graphic design and advertising industry executive who founded a POD (Print-on-Demand) publishing company in his garage five years ago. Now, after publishing about 100 books, he's ready to move into a real office in Brentwood, along with his four employees.
Just by looking at the Cold Tree Press website you can tell this is a quality operation. Here's the business model:
Cold Tree charges authors a one time up front fee of between $900 and $1400 to get their books print ready. Services include formatting the text, designing the book cover, and can include editing (though extensive editing is an extra fee). Once the book is ready, Cold Tree subcontracts the actual production to Lightning Source, the local Ingram Books subsidiary that specializes in digital POD printing. Print runs typically are in the range of 1 to 1000.
The author maintains the rights to the book, but Cold Tree owns the books produced this way. Authors can purchase their own books from Cold Tree at a 40% off retail price. They also receive a 30 per cent royalty on books sold through the Cold Tree website and a 15% royalty on books sold through retailers or online retailers.
The best total sales from a title in the Cold Tree catalog has been 3,000 units.
Cold Tree will be offering an offset print option next year, which means initial runs will be 1,500 minimum.