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Print On Demand Revisited: Lulu vs. CreateSpace
Before I started experimenting with creating ebooks for Kindle & Co last year, I briefly looked into print on demand services. Since in the pre-Internet days I had always been printing and xeroxing stories to share them with friends and family, I was only happy to find out that I could finally “outsource” my time spent in copy shops, and arguing with grumpy assistants over preferred bindings for various projects.
Basically, what a print on demand service does is to only print your books when someone orders them, contrary to “vanity publishing” where an author pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to order endless stacks of his own books which no shop will sell.
From The Screen Into Your Hands
One of these services is lulu.com, it was the first one I tried in the making of a poetry collection. To make a long story short, while it was amazing to see this book jump out of my computer and into my hands, the printing costs were relatively high, even for black & white only – so once global ebook sales started surging, I quickly abandoned my printing adventures and focused on ebook markets instead which allowed me to offer books at far lower prices (no printing & shipping costs) while the royalties were still higher.
CreateSpace: Low Cost, Full Impact
Recently, I decided to try out another well-known service in the print-on-demand field: CreateSpace. The company is owned by Amazon and promised a few things: quick distribution to their online stores, and most importantly: cheap production costs.
Since I had just finished a children’s book that dealt with the “war” between paper- and ebooks, ultimately making the point that both paper- and ebooks were great, I decided to transform it into print as a case study. Not only did the topic fit very well, but the interior of the book posed a few challenges to printers: It’s in full color and images need to cover the whole page up to the edge without a white border.
While it wasn’t easy at first to get everything right exactly the way I wanted, eventually it was all done and I ordered a test-copy which arrived today.
The result is better than I expected! I’ve created a little “unboxing” video for it and made a few photos which you can see below.
As for the prices, they were almost as nice as the printing quality. The production for this book (6 by 9 inch, full color softcover, 78 pages) came out at $10.52, and I’m selling it at $12.00 which leaves me with a royalty of $0.89. While this is of course in no way comparable to the prices & royalties in e-publishing, in comparison even authors who sell their novels on the Kindle store for $0.99 get about $0.34 per purchase.
Anyway, enough number-crunching. Enjoy the visuals!
P.S.: Keep in mind, if you commit yourself to book-making and getting rich is your primary motivation, pick a different job! I’m lucky enough to be able to make a modest living from writing and publishing alone, but my primary drive is and has always been the fascination of making things, not selling them.