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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Choosing a POD Printer

Hello all.

It's been a busy week; but I'm back with another post. :)

With eBooks sweeping across the publishing landscape, there may no longer be a need for every book to be published on paper for it to be a success. But for those writers who still like to see their work in a tree-book format (like me), and want to have their book available for buyers of tree-books (like me), what's the best way to get that book into print?

There are lots of options. Let's consider what we should be looking for.

What type of book do you have?

Is yours a gift book? a novel? a romance? a children's book? a scholarly text? a biography? a How-To manual? the list goes on.

When you choose a printer, you need to consider your particular book, the POD printer's ability to produce it. If you need a hard cover, that will limit your options. And color images will dramatically affect pricing.

I must confess that I have no personal experience with hard covers or color interiors, since I write good old black-and-white text-filled novels. So my advice in today's column may not help those of you who need a hard cover or a lot of color inside your book.

If your book has these cover or color requirements, look for confirmation that your chosen printer will do a good job for you at a reasonable cost.

The remainder of this post deals with trade paperback books that have color covers and black-and-white interiors.

Some POD printer options.

There are a number of POD printers out there for you to choose from. These are a few of the more popular ones. (A listing here is NOT an endorsement):

-- Lightning Source (affiliated with Ingram Book Company)
-- LuLu
-- CreateSpace (afilliated with
-- Virtual Bookworm
-- Xlibris
-- iUniverse

A more complete list with evaluations of strengths and weaknesses of each Printer may be found here.

My favorite and why.

My favorite POD Printer is CreateSpace for the following reasons:

1) Low upfront costs. You can literally have a proof copy of your book (that looks just like the finished product) in your hands within two weeks for under $20.00.

2) Low cost for author copies. I can buy copies of my books, including shipping costs to my home, for anywhere from $4 to $6 each, if I buy at least 20 at a time. I can also buy 1 at a time. But shipping costs about double the cost of the book.

3) I set my own price and royalties are based on that price. CS Tells you going in what your royalties will be when sales occur through various sales channels. There are no questions later on.

4) Print quality has been excellent for my books. This may not be an exceptional statement -- but it is certainly a necessary one.

5) Book orders are delivered to me within two weeks -- often within 10 days -- of my placing an order.

6) Books are listed for sale on without any additional listing fee from Amazon. This is a biggie for me. Amazon is the "elephant in the room" in the self-publishing business. If I can sell through them as cheaply as possible, that's a huge plus. In addition, CS handles placing the listing on Amazon promptly AND my book qualifies for Amazon's FREE SHIPPING OVER $25.

7) I have found author support from CS to be excellent. You can message them or have them call you IMMEDIATELY during business hours.

8) CS has a nice selection of customizable book covers that can give you a cheap start on setting up your book. Their not the same as covers you pay a bunch of money for; but they're free and you can make them look pretty decent. Check out the cover for my latest book, A HIGHER COURT. Of course, you can also custom-design your cover from scratch if you wish.

9) Distribution channels. CS offers what they call Expanded Distribution Channels. Through these channels your book will be sold by wholesalers Ingram and Roberts & Taylor, and to libraries through whatever their usual buying channels may be.

The only POD printer I have found that comes close to matching what CreateSpace has to offer for MY books is Lightning Source. Their biggest advantage is affiliation with Ingram Book Company (huge book wholesaler) which I presume would get you a better shot at getting your book into bricks and mortar bookstores at a decent discount. CS can make your book available at bookstores. But when your books go from CS through Ingram to get there, the stores only get a 25% discount instead of the 40% they're used to.

I'd be interested to hear others' comments on their experiences with POD printers. Maybe someone has found a better deal than CreateSpace.

Please share your knowledge. (Did you know that "knowledge" isn't really "knowledge" unless you share it with someone?)

That's it for today.

Thanks for stopping in.



  1. I used CreateSpace for my Teen Devotional book and was very satisfied. I found the print was excellent and the book ended up looking better than I expected. Using the premade book covers was a breeze and I was able to personaize it to my own preference.

    I splurged and bought the Expanded Sales Distribution, but I honestly didn't see much difference. My book is currently not availbe while I make a few necessary revisions (or at least I think they are necessary. The pictures I used inside were black and white and came out beautifully. I was very satisfied.

  2. Tina,

    I, too, selected the Expanded Sales Channels for the extra $36.00 one-time payment per book. I found that this had three advantages:

    1) Bookstores could find info about my book through Ingram, even if they didn't buy from Ingram.

    2) Amazon will match anybody's price. So occasionally other booksellers like B&N would put one of my titles on sale and Amazon would lower the price to match. This made the book more affordable for my buyers on Amazon w/o reducing my royalties.

    3) The price of author copies is much less with the purchase of the expanded distribution option.

    Thanks for your input and for stopping by.


  3. John, this is one post I can whole heartily agree with. Their customer service is top notch too!

  4. Thanks for stopping by, POCBOOKS. I appreciate your concurrence.

    I've been very satisfied with CS compared to the service I've heard other authors have received from their printers.

    All the best!


  5. Good read. I plan on using CreateSpace in the near future when I finish my first book. Thanks for the first hand testimony.

  6. byoung210,

    Thanks for your comment, and for stopping by.

    Come again soon.


  7. I used for my last book, but as I'm nearing the finish of my second book, I think I may give CreateSpace a go. Nothing wrong with Lulu, but I keep hearing good things about CreateSpace and that has me interested in it.
    Thanks for all the good stuff you share!

  8. Thanks for posting, I like this blog!

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  9. Very happy I found your site. Will note it and return for more info.


  10. You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.

    Screen printing okc ok

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Lightning Source can give you a hardback version of your book which Create Space does not offer. I have only used Create Space, so I'm not familiar with all aspects of using Lighting Source. I have seen good reports about LS, but have also seen reports of having more problems getting the PDF files formatted correctly for acceptance.