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Archived Author Help > Seeking print-on-demand recommendations

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message 1: by A.M. (new)

A.M. Rycroft (amrycroft) | 10 comments Hi all,

I'm currently using Lulu as my print-on-demand service, but I'm thinking of taking my business elsewhere. The reasons being, one, I had a really large order get missprinted (bad covers, all 300) and had to wait a week for a new shipment, and two, the cost per book ordered by me (roughly $10.81 per book for small runs).

I've heard good things about both IngramSpark/Lightning Source and CreateSpace. I'm looking for recommendations for one or both services, or another service altogether. Feel free to gush about a great experience or rant about a terrible experience.

Also, just to note, I am only doing black and white printing. I've heard iffy things about Ingram and color printing already.

Thanks!
A.M. Rycroft


message 2: by Phyllis (new)

Phyllis Entis | 43 comments A.M. wrote: "Hi all,

I'm currently using Lulu as my print-on-demand service, but I'm thinking of taking my business elsewhere. The reasons being, one, I had a really large order get missprinted (bad covers, al..."



message 3: by Phyllis (new)

Phyllis Entis | 43 comments I've only published one POD so far and used CreateSpace. Haven't encountered any problems yet. Plan to used them again for my second book. A neighbor just arranged publication of his father's memoirs using Lulu and was pleased with the experience.


message 4: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Hi AM. The cost per book seems a bit high to me, but according to your product page here, your book is 478 pages. That may not change considerably with another distributor. Having worked with both Lulu and Createspace, they've always been similar in pricing, though Lulu charges by size where Createspace does not. If your book is a smaller trim, going with a larger trim size on Createspace might make the price a bit lower.

There are differences in what is offered. Createspace has a matte cover option that I love, but they only offer one paper type (you can get white or cream) whereas with Lulu there was always three levels of quality to choose. I personally found uploading a cover file to Lulu easier than Createspace, but CS has a cover creator if you just want to make a high quality jpeg and see if it fits.

I know next to nothing aboit Ingram other than that they have a fee, which is why I don't use them.


message 5: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Cunegan (jdcunegan) | 240 comments I use CreateSpace, and to this point, I haven't encountered any issues. What CS charges me for a book order is far less than what you quoted above for Lulu.


message 6: by Ashley (last edited Aug 09, 2015 07:55PM) (new)

Ashley Capes | 90 comments I use LS/Ingram Spark and have never had a single issue (so far) :)

There is a set-up fee of $25 dollars per format so there is that to consider.

Wonderful range of print, trim and quality sizes too. However, if you're in the US, I'd recommended going with CS due to shipping alone.


message 7: by Christie (new)

Christie Stratos (christiestratos) | 10 comments I'm so glad this thread is up. I've just been wondering the same thing! How about in terms of distribution, too. I heard CS is limited, and it seemed like it might be from their website. Do you agree?


message 8: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Cunegan (jdcunegan) | 240 comments Christie wrote: "I'm so glad this thread is up. I've just been wondering the same thing! How about in terms of distribution, too. I heard CS is limited, and it seemed like it might be from their website. Do you agree?"

Through CreateSpace, I can see that the paperback edition of my book is available for purchase through Amazon and Barnes & Noble's website, and I selected all six distribution options when I went through the publication process -- which included several different websites both in the U.S. and worldwide, as well as an option called "Expanded Distribution," which CreateSpace described as getting the book carried in bookstores and libraries. I've sold two copies this way so far, but I've yet to actually SEE my book in a store.


message 9: by A.M. (new)

A.M. Rycroft (amrycroft) | 10 comments Ashley wrote: "I use LS/Ingram Spark and have never had a single issue (so far) :)

There is a set-up fee of $25 dollars per format so there is that to consider.

Wonderful range of print, trim and quality sizes ..."


Thanks, Ashley. So far, your feedback is the only I've gotten about Ingram. Can you elaborate on the shipping issue you mentioned with them? I am in the US.

And, thanks to all others for the feedback about CreatSpace. I'm a little hesitant to go with them, however, because I own my ISBNs. I've heard this can be an issue with CS.

A.M.


message 10: by Christie (new)

Christie Stratos (christiestratos) | 10 comments Thanks, J.D.! What about Smashwords?


message 11: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Cunegan (jdcunegan) | 240 comments Christie wrote: "Thanks, J.D.! What about Smashwords?"

I've never used them, so I'm not sure.


message 12: by Christie (new)

Christie Stratos (christiestratos) | 10 comments Okay, thanks!


message 13: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Christie wrote: "Thanks, J.D.! What about Smashwords?"

Smashwords is an ebook distributor.


message 14: by Christie (new)

Christie Stratos (christiestratos) | 10 comments Right. I believe - and I could be wrong - that Ingram deals with both ebook and print distro? So I guess that's one difference between Ingram and CS? I really am just starting out with this research and finding it a little confusing though, so please correct me if I'm wrong. :)


message 15: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) I'm not sure about that, but I know that Createspace offers to convert your book to kindle and I've heard horor stories about the formatting. If Ingram does the same, that is, formats an ebook from a pdf, it might just make more sense to keep those two separate.


message 16: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Capes | 90 comments A.M. wrote: "Thanks, Ashley. So far, your feedback is the only I've gotten about Ingram. Can you elaborate on the shipping issue you mentioned with them? I am in the US.

And, thanks to all others for the feedback about CreatSpace. I'm a little hesitant to go with them, however, because I own my ISBNs. I've heard this can be an issue with CS.

A.M. "


Hey, AM :) It's basically because I'm in Australia. For CS to print and ship me hard copies for proofs and hand-selling (which I do a fair bit of) the prices would have been hideous - even before the recent slump in the Australian dollar :D

But, since you're in the US, it wouldn't be an issue I reckon, if you wanted to ship a few copies to yourself it wouldn't be so bad.


message 17: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Capes | 90 comments Christie wrote: "Right. I believe - and I could be wrong - that Ingram deals with both ebook and print distro? So I guess that's one difference between Ingram and CS? I really am just starting out with this researc..."

Yep, IS works as a print distributor and an aggregator for ebooks.

I always upload the print pdf then upload my ebooks separate (as an EPUB, which is the format Spark usually asks for.)

They offer to convert PDFs but I've never tried it znd it seems more expensive from memory


message 18: by Carol (new)

Carol Louise (CarolLWilde) | 22 comments A friend of mine is using Ingram-Spark and having a good experience so far. She tried something else first and switched.


message 19: by Grey (new)

Grey Liliy (greyliliy) | 19 comments I've used Createspace to publish 4 books now and I haven't had any problems with them. They're quick, helpful if you need it, and offer a variety of proofing solutions that I've found very helpful. (I love doing my last line-edit on a physical proof copy that they mail you before the book goes out to sale).

And of course, they get your book into the Amazon Store, and thanks to their extended distribution options, my books are also available at B&N (online only), and through a variety of smaller stores. So that's always good.

Plus, it's inexpensive to buy my own copies to distribute as needed. My novellas run me around $2.50 a piece, and my 120k novel is around $4.00 a piece. The only real expense is the shipping cost (books are heavy!).

Oh! And since you mentioned it, I also own my own ISBN numbers. I haven't had any problems using them on my CreateSpace titles (so far, anyway). I just make sure to always go back over to Bowker and fill in the correct information for the ISBN Number with the correct Book Titles/Formatting Information after I finalize/submit the book for sale. After a while, I get my little Green Checkmark stating my book's been successfully processed at Bowker, and call it a day!


message 20: by Vaughn (new)

Vaughn Treude (vaughntreude) | 16 comments I've used Ingram's Lightning Source for my POD; no complaints except they sent my proof to my old address, hopefully that's fixed now.
I also am a big believer in getting my own ISBN's. (Yes, Bowker.)


message 21: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 61 comments I've always used Lulu and have never had any problems, but have also heard of none using CreateSpace either.

I also buy my own ISBNs from Bowker and register them online on their site myself. I find things go smoother and quicker that way.


message 22: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Briginshaw | 74 comments A.M. wrote: "And, thanks to all others for the feedback about CreatSpace. I'm a little hesitant to go with them, however, because I own my ISBNs. I've heard this can be an issue with CS.

I own my ISBN's and have used Createspace for all three of my books and have been quite pleased with the print quality and the support. The cost to print the book is quite reasonable. The only thing I don't like is the high shipping cost to ship to Canada.

I didn't originally select "Expanded Distribution", but recently added it. My books were quickly added to Amazon.ca and Barnes & Noble. However, they weren't added to Indigo/Chapters which is probably the biggest book store chain in Canada. Createspace said they can't guarantee that other book stores will add my books to their system, but it is an option for them. They suggested I contact Indigo/Chapters directly to see if they will add them to their system.


message 23: by K. (new)

K. Kidd | 49 comments I have had excellent results with CreateSpace. I also like that they assign an ISBN for you at no extra charge, and it didn't seem like much of a holdup. If I was in a time crunch though, I probably would purchase an ISBN directly from Bowker. I chose expanded distribution, black and white printing, and a glossy cover. The cover is definitely shiny, which may not work for some books, but it worked for this book.


message 24: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 266 comments i have used both but stuck with CS due to cheaper costs. the only issue i had was when CS changed printers the colors to an indigo book cover changed from bluish to purplish in a single run otherwise i never had any real issues...


message 25: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments We've had good luck with Createspace: easy to deal with, good quality, costs are competitive, and we've drop-shipped books in both US and internationally with excellent results.

We especially like the matte-finish cover option, which look very nice.


message 26: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) With Createspace I've found that the matte covers look too flat for my taste, and tend to curl. I now go exclusively with glossy, and I love the result.


message 27: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) I have been satisfied with Create Space; have not yet used Ingram-Sparks.

Morris


message 28: by Ken (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 364 comments Ken wrote: "With Createspace I've found that the matte covers look too flat for my taste, and tend to curl. I now go exclusively with glossy, and I love the result."

I've had exactly the opposite experience: the glossy covers curl like crazy, especially with a bit of humidity, while the matte ones lay flatter. I wish they had a matte cover option with a UV coat; that would give us the best of both worlds.


message 29: by Mike (new)

Mike Vavrinak | 28 comments I'm using Blurb and I'm very happy.
Trade paperback, no illustrations, color cover, 6 x 9, 360 pages, using the economy paper (which is excellent for a trade book) runs me $5.85 per book.
The Bookwright software took a bit of pounding to get the formatting correct, but I'm happy with the finished product.

They also distribute to Amazon, Ingram, etc., and will POD the orders pretty quickly, My sister - in - law in United Arab Emirates ordered a few copies through Amazon, she paid the 'cheap' shipping and received the books in about a week and a half.

http://www.blurb.com/b/6200075-rebecca


message 30: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments Mike wrote: "I also buy my own ISBNs from Bowker and register them online on their site myself..."

Morris wrote: "I have been satisfied with Create Space; have not yet used Ingram-Sparks."

I've read a couple of blog posts lately that point out the struggle I'm having in this regard.

1) Bowker is a monopoly and is engaged, as far as I'm concerned, in price gouging:
http://tinyurl.com/pv64ugy (goes to a guest post on The Independent Publishing Magazine)

"Purchasing an ISBN in the United States involves going through Bowker, an old-school publishing services company that is the sole issuer of ISBNs in the U.S.

...[T]he company is leveraging its monopoly power to gouge new writers and small publishers, using exploitative pricing for ISBNs and other services.

How bad is Bowker’s pricing scale? If you’re a publisher needing lots of ISBNs, the price is $1 per ISBN — but you need to order 1,000. If, on the other hand, you only have one book and plan on releasing only one version (such as a single print-on-demand title) Bowker demands $125 — a 12,500% markup.
"

2) If you ever want to get your books in bookstores and libraries around the world, you need to own your own ISBN, and use Ingram:

http://www.kseniaanske.com/blog/2015/...

"I got invited to do a reading at Spokane's Auntie's Bookstore, and the lovely staff there told me that they got a few of my books to stock but only because people demanded them. It was going to make them no profit if they sold them, they told me. I couldn't understand why. They said I needed to get my books on Ingram so that they could buy them at a 55% discount to make a profit. It was the first time I heard about Ingram. I set out to investigate.

Turns out, Ingram was used by all traditional publishers, and bookstores were used to the system. It made sense, business-wise. I mean, why buy merchandise for your store if you can't make a profit on it? I had my own startup for about 5 years, and I knew that if I didn't make at least a 50% profit on my product, I was toast. So the 55% discount made sense. After searching the wide sparkling internets about it, I found this and this blog posts by Giacomo Giammatteo on how he uses both CreateSpace and IngramSpark, and I set out to do the same.
"

So...we can stick with places like CreateSpace and Lulu if we want to limit ourselves to online sales (which I hear is often cost prohibitive for foreign sales). Or, we can aim higher, pay the devil for our own ISBNs, and list them on Ingram so that bookstores around the globe can order them in, and still make a profit (which I contend is a good thing, independent bookstores are an endangered species and we should do all we can to support them).

But...Bowker really leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Canada gives free ISBNs to Canadian authors. But don't expect that to ever happen in the US.


message 31: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) I bought my first ISBN I think for $99. Bowker sells blocks of ten for $295. I think bulk is how I cam going to go next time.


message 32: by A.M. (new)

A.M. Rycroft (amrycroft) | 10 comments Thanks to everyone for their feedback. It has been very informative.

I think Micah hit a couple of issues right when he said, "If you ever want to get your books in bookstores and libraries around the world, you need to own your own ISBN, and use Ingram".

Although you can get free ISBNs through both CS and Lulu, because they own the ISBNs, you have to make those distributors your book's publisher.

This is a problem in itself. The second it says CreateSpace or Lulu as the publisher on your book, it is seen a "just" a self-published book (read: inferior product, in the minds of institutions). At that point, a lot of bookstores and libraries won't touch the book with a ten-foot pole.

This was why I purchased my own ISBNs, in a block of 10, and it doesn't say Lulu anywhere on my novel. It cost me $250 for 10 ISBNs, because Bowker was running a special. Yes, absolutely, Bowker is a monopoly, but bulk deals are your friend.

Because I want higher revenues through Amazon AND to have access bookstores, libraries, universities, etc., I will likely use a combination of CS and Ingram going forward.

A.M.


message 33: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Emme (Lisa_Emme) | 212 comments Wow, you Americans sure get shafted with the ISBNs. Glad I'm in Canada where I can get them for free.

A.M. I've decided to do a combo of CS and Ingram as well. CS's expanded distribution is just not worth it for me as a Canadian. I would earn next to nothing on my Canadian sales where most of my purchases (at least in printed copy) will probably come.


message 34: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) FYI, you can pay $10 to Createspace and your book can be under your imprint. Don't think for a moment that Igram looks less indie. They are printed under their self-publishing arm and you have just as much of a shot of getting your books into a brick and mortar store with any of these options, which is pretty low without a direct inquiry from you.


message 35: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) Lisa, How do CS and Ingram's compare, side by side?

Morris


message 36: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Emme (Lisa_Emme) | 212 comments Morris wrote: "Lisa, How do CS and Ingram's compare, side by side?"

I wrote a blog comparing them a while ago:

http://lisaemme.com/2015/07/14/pick-y...


Basically, the big thing for me is the hit in royalties I would take if I used CS's expanded distribution. I'll use CS for US sales, but for international, I'll be going with Ingram.


message 37: by Cee (new)

Cee Jackson (ceeteejackson) | 12 comments Just published my first book, DAMP DOGS & RABBIT WEE through Createspace. Found them first class. I see some comments about the Matt finish cover, but I like mine, though it does tend to attract greasy fingerprints. But they wipe off ok.
Maybe a more experienced writer / self-publisher could offer some better alternatives, but I couldn't fault them.


message 38: by Morris (new)

Morris Graham (morris_g) Actually Lisa, CS will do a hard cover, but they don't encourage it. I spoke with a rep a couple of years ago. They set it up fee is $100, but it is not for sales channel distribution, author order only.


message 39: by A.M. (new)

A.M. Rycroft (amrycroft) | 10 comments Christina wrote: "FYI, you can pay $10 to Createspace and your book can be under your imprint. Don't think for a moment that Igram looks less indie. They are printed under their self-publishing arm and you have just..."

Thanks, but I think the point of being with Ingram, whatever the branch, is being part of Ingram's catalog and ease of ordering directly from Ingram for bookstores and libraries. Bookstores/libraries typically won't order from CS or Lulu, meaning, I have to supply the stock personally. Since I have books in both bookstores and libraries, if I can make direct ordering easier for them, I will.

And, additional thanks to Morris for clarifying the hardcover through CS issue. I'd wondered why they don't do a hardcover offering. Seems like something they shouldn't bother offering at all, if it is direct to author orders only, and $100 at that.

A.M.


message 40: by Edward (new)

Edward Fahey (edward_fahey) | 71 comments I always go with with CreateSpace and am quite satisfied. More than satisfied. The only thing I spring (relatively) big bucks for is the optional cover design team. This way I get just the covers I want and readers are pulled into the stories and their mystical moods before they even open the books. ISBN's are free, and the B & N thing is handled by simply getting professional reviews from Readers Favorites, and/or Clarion, and/or Kirkus. You score a review you like, give them the go ahead, and THEY link you into the bid boys catalogs. Also into library catalogs.


message 41: by Rian (new)

Rian Nejar (riannejar) Some more comments from other authors and self-publishers on CS, IS, and Lulu are in this LinkedIn discussion thread. (Included as a link due to copyright concerns.)

Not sure if this has been pointed out: if you obtain your own ISBN's, CreateSpace denies you one distribution channel (Libraries, I think), which is most likely inconsequential.

As another author pointed out, what seems best (for royalties), if you are in the US, is to use CS for domestic distribution, and Ingram for international print sales.

Much as I'd like to praise self-publishing, the quality of books so made does not match professionally published works. The paper is heavy, and if you exceed say 300 pages, you end up with a rather heavy paperback print book. Professionally published books have excellent cover alignment, color rendition, light weight, and no discernible internal printing issues such as ink blotches...


message 42: by Carol (new)

Carol Louise (CarolLWilde) | 22 comments Thanks for that link, Rian. That discussion was really helpful.


message 43: by Rian (new)

Rian Nejar (riannejar) You are very welcome, Carol. I found that thread and similar others quite informative.


message 44: by A.M. (new)

A.M. Rycroft (amrycroft) | 10 comments Rian, apparently, you have been the most fortunate book buyer ever, because I've purchased plenty of "professionally" published books with cover imperfections and ink blotches inside. It's the nature of the printing process, mistakes happen, and the imperfections don't take away from the content for me.

As to the quality of the paper in indie books, I find it strange that lightweight, and thus lower quality, paper is being suggested as the gold standard. It used to be that a book was judged by how high quality, and thus heavy, the paper was.

I don't want my book printed on lightweight paper, thanks, and I find it odd that anyone else would.

If the goal is to save money on shipping, because the paper's weight makes the book heavier when printed on high quality paper, I suggest that considering ebooks instead. They have no weight and ship for free.

I'm cool with my 450+ page novel having some heft to it.

A.M.


message 45: by Rian (new)

Rian Nejar (riannejar) A.M., individual experiences and opinions undoubtedly vary...I thought the same as well, that what used to be called "bond paper" (thicker, firmer, very little see-through) paper indicated quality, but over time, have come to feel differently. My textbooks published professionally have paper that is thinner and more "see-through" than light paperback mainstream books; they are hard-bound with high page-count. I tend to look for excellent book cover (color and image) rendition, legibility and ease in reading matter within, neatness in overall organization, and minimization of paper content now. Quality can be somewhat subjective, yes?

Another discussion with an interesting, new, production challenge in CS print books: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/380...


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