Big Distribution for Small Publishers
The market for e-books, while growing very fast, accounts for a very small percentage of book sales overall.
It is also still the case that many important review media, including essential library review media, will not even consider a title that does not exist in a print edition.
Moreover, the idea that e-books can be produced very cheaply works against them: if the publisher really believed in the book, many people say, wouldn't he or she have risked a print run? This may be "old think" but it is the current reality.
For these reasons SPU requires that titles considered for inclusion into the program must be available in a print edition as well as in e-book edition.
The print edition can be very modest. A total of fifty POD copies are enough to cover the minimum publicity requirement and the sample copies needed by the SPU sales staff.
Once a title is accepted into the SPU program, its publisher can make use of IPG's very cost effective POD program. Print copies can be produced on an as needed basis, and because of IPG's buying power, they can be printed in very short runs at a cost per copy, easily low enough to make their sale profitable for their publisher.
With POD, the money a publisher needs to tie up in print inventory is negligible, and there is really no reason not to increase revenue by selling a print edition as well as an electronic one.