The company was founded in 1995 and is privately owned. According to Trafford, they were the first company in the world to offer print-on-demand ("POD") publishing, which means they print shorter runs or even one copy at a time, in response to orders from the author or from retail customers. Trafford's service is being used by authors from more than 100 countries.
In 2005, Trafford announced a pledge of $1.6 million to help preserve endangered indigenous languages around the world.
Trafford requires payment from the author to cover set-up costs, and the author has to do most of his or her own marketing. Unlike most other POD publishing services, Trafford owns its own large printing plant, located in Victoria. Book printing is also done through Lightning Source Inc. (LSI), a subsidiary of Ingram Books distributors, in Tennessee and Milton Keynes as well as at BookSurge LLC's plant in South Carolina.
Some titles have been converted to e-books and are distributed via Powells.com.
According to their publishing guide, a number of packages are available. They range from a basic publishing service for those just wishing to be able to order printed copies (for family histories, etc.), an intermediate package for those only needing basic online ordering capability, to an inclusive package with full internet distribution. All of the packages include an ISBN number and full color cover. Trafford also offers a line of packages for publishing full-color children's books.
The company has distribution options in Europe and claims to have the widest distribution of any independent publisher.