POD is printing on demand. It is a concept that has been around for many years. I remember when I first saw it demonstrated. It was a big machine that accepted digital content and spit out a bound softcover book in a matter of minutes. At first it was thought that this machine would replace book stores with printing kiosks in shopping malls—a very exciting idea. All of the books in the world could be digitized and then called up on demand and printed out.
At the same time, ebook devices were displaying that same digital content on special dedicated reading devices like the Rocket eBook and Softbook. While the Palm (the popular PDA at the time) could also show ebooks, it was a little hard to read on such a small screen.
When it all shook out, the ebook devices morphed into tablets. The POD machine never made it to the malls. The shopping centers started to wane with the ease of Internet shopping. Amazon was perfectly positioned to launch Createspace to satisfy the demand for vanity publishing fulfilled through their online store Amazon.com.
We are glad they did and have enjoyed making books and magazines over the years at a very reasonable cost.