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Print On Demand - how was it for you?

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Initial post: 19 Jun 2011 18:01:47 BDT
M. White says:
I would like to hear peoples' experiences of Print on Demand, or bulk printing for that matter, for those who have self-pubbed in paperback / hardback.

I have my own printing company and I'm glad, because if I had done bulk printing through a contractor I would have a lot of books in storage right now.

What UK POD routes have people taken? If you used a conventional printer, did you get a deal that was cost effective? Share your insights for those who are looking to go 'physical'. Cheers

Posted on 19 Jun 2011 18:37:37 BDT
Dan Holloway says:
Like a lot of people I use Lulu, which works for me just fine as I'm not really interested in selling vast quantities of paperbacks, or selling through that many bookstores. Mainly I want books to take with me to readings and shows, which I do 3 or 4 times a month, and Lulu works perfectly. Most people I know who stock in bookstores go direct to Lightning Source as the costs are lower.
I recently started having my book stocked in Oxford's Blackwell's
so I may be looking to get more printed, and I'd love to use an offset printer, but the print runs are so large that they're beyond my budget - I could never afford more than 200 on stock at any one time.

Posted on 19 Jun 2011 18:43:38 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jun 2011 18:44:26 BDT
I tried Createspace first, didn't make sense for the UK, then went with Lulu. Not a happy bunny, won't do that again.

Will go with Lightening sourse next time.

Excuse me, where is the exit?
No Wings Attached (Branded)

Posted on 19 Jun 2011 19:06:11 BDT
Karen Lowe says:
Have used Antony Rowe for both murder mysteries and am v pleased - the quality of the cover especially for the second book, is excellent, and the text is crisp, paper nice and clear & white. It is an affordable option for me and doesn't take up too much storage space for stock. Previously, for the crossword books, I'd do a run of 3000 but they were selling in far bigger quantities. It was a helluva lot more cost effective but initially does take up a lot of space in the house! POD is not a cheap option per copy, but it is more sensible than risking thousands of pounds on a conventional print-run.

Posted on 19 Jun 2011 19:09:35 BDT
Never heard of them. Will take a look, Karen. Can I ask for an approximate price? Range like between 200 and 300 for 100 books?

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jun 2011 19:10:13 BDT
Karen Lowe says:
Stella, it's a bit complicated, cos you hve one-off set up costs, and there's carriage each time you have a batch printed. Cost is based on number of pages, size of book, type of cover, plus there's an annual charge for them to keep the file for future reprints. With Print on Demand, it's a flat rate, however many books you have printed, so no economies of scale which you have with conventional printing, but equally you don't need to tie up too much cash/space. I think 3 odd per copy would be about right, from memory, but it does depend on number of pages.

Posted on 21 Jun 2011 07:29:20 BDT
M. White says:
When printing, my rule of thumb is about 1 per 100 pages but it can vary

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2011 13:51:51 BDT
That makes sense. I pay 2.22 for my short stories (lulu) but the carriage is so expensive I just break even when I take 4 for the book (86 pages, I think).

Spoke to a real printer who would ask for 2.45 per book (100 pages) including delivery. But they do a minimum run of 100 books. The paperback doesn't sell, only a few copies, but I haven't done any promotion for it, just a cafe that helped me for the good cause.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2011 13:53:12 BDT
Oh, that would be a bargain.

Are we talking 'real' printer or POD with Lulu/Createspace?

Posted on 21 Jun 2011 18:56:31 BDT
Marion Stein says:
I set up my own imprint and used Lightning Source -- primarily to get paperbacks to the UK. It was a lot of work. My more techie better half helped but there was a learning curve for him as well. It will be easier with the next book. I feel like it gave us more freedom than Createspace. Even though Lightning Source puts us in Ingram's etc, getting into stores is still nearly impossible and competitive pricing for PODs continues to be a problem. (I would make more selling an e-book at a pound and a half then I'd make selling a paperback with a retail of under 12 pounds.)

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jun 2011 19:02:20 BDT
Now that doesn't give me much hope. I wanted to go with them, but I think I need to check the prices. I would never offer a paperback for over 9, most of them are for 6.99 in the shops.

Posted on 22 Jun 2011 09:02:34 BDT
Dan Holloway says:
Stella, Company of Fellows is really long and 9.99, which is standard for a regular small press paperback. I can just about sell it in stores without making a loss, and make a very tidy sum selling direct at gigs and online. Our eight cuts gallery press books are 8 and all about 130 pages which allows me to sell them in bookstores and still give our authors a 10% royalty. I'd obviously rather sell direct or online and give them a few quid a copy.

Posted on 22 Jun 2011 09:30:28 BDT
I've gone with, and so far the service has been pretty good. It's a shame I can't really price the book much lower, but never mind (it's 6.99, plus 2.99 for delivery).

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 09:35:13 BDT
Hi, Dan

I know, but I think it's wrong, sort of. I compare it with, let's say, Twilight, it's 130 pages, too, but only cost 6.99, same with the other books that have even more pages. I think it's not okay that small presses or self-published authors have to charge such high prices.

See, Excuse me, where is the exit, is 25k words, the format is horrible 6x9, I wanted a paperback, but they neither Lulu, nor Createspace offered the size I wanted. it's all not handy to read. The book is rather thin and I would need to charge 5 to actually make a profit, but I feel almost ashamed to ask for 4 for this thin, and it's not even the quality I wanted it, i.e. paper much too thin, cover is sort of all right, but you can easily see it's self-published.

8, I find acceptable for a book, though. And yes, if you bring your books into the shops you have a lot of other hurdles to overcome, the wholesalers, the bookshop itself and they all want their cuts. Annoys me, really, because the reader has to pay for it all.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 09:38:03 BDT
Which is all right for a novel. My little book is 4 and 2.99. I don't promote the paperback. It sells really well on kindle, though.

The service is good, rather outstanding, but I'm still not happy with the quality of the book :-) Yes, I'm fussy.

Posted on 22 Jun 2011 10:38:10 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Jun 2011 10:52:06 BDT
Cuban Heel says:
Here you go Stella - the answer to your problems. The Espresso Book Machine:

A snip too at $97,000 plus printer :oD

Like you I've been disappointed with the price I've had to charge for paperbacks. I went with createspace which is obviously NOT a good option in the UK. The book is only available through sellers here in the UK and the cheapest you can get it is over 7, plus P&P. I was hoping to bring it in under a fiver. Even ordering some small stock and putting it out to bookshops doesn't work out very well because of createspace's massive shipping costs. Cheapest I can get the book to is just over 5 per unit price. Then the store wants its discount and you're pushing 8 before I even break even. It's frustrating. Next time around I'll go with Lightning Source because of its UK links.

And yes, it is bizarre when you think that even a sale of that 7 + paperback on Amazon earns me less royalty than the sale of a 70p ebook...

The Espresso Book Machine, by the way, was what I discovered when I did a bit of research into equipment available for on demand book printing. Did I really think about doing it myself? Well, not really, but a friend of mine was talking about setting up a small press and I was digging around half-heartedly trying to work out what the best business model might be. Obviously bringing production in-house ISN'T it...

Posted on 22 Jun 2011 12:29:43 BDT
I print and distribute with Lightning Source. They are the printer who do POD printing (but not always author copies) for lulu etc but by cutting out the middle man I keep my costs down. LS now offer bulk printing as well as POD and if you buy author copies the price is reduced the more you buy.

The advantages of this method are that you can produce a cheaper good quality book and keep the cost competitive for the reader.

The disadvantage is that you need access to more advanced software (though there are ways round this) and you need to buy your own ISBNs in bulk (a one off cost of around 110 for 10) but lots of people prefer to do this anyway.

Providing you can produce print ready files, your biggest initial cost will be the ISBNs. File upload etc comes to around 70.

The Girl on the Swing

Posted on 22 Jun 2011 12:30:40 BDT
M. White says:
It's all about the commission, isn't it? I can produce Ashraf Farouk: Tourist Police (140pp) for about 1.50. So if I was selling it direct I'd happily charge maybe 4. The shops take 30-35% discount and Amazon Advantage something like 60% so to arrive at a consistent price you have to put it at 6.99. See how much goes into the middleman's pocket? The irony is, less commission would lead to more sales and potentially more profit all round.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 13:37:37 BDT
Wow, what a bargain. Haha.

Yes, Createspace is no good for someone in the UK, but Lulu isn't much better. I ordered 5 of my books that are about the same size as a novel (together) and paid 6.99, then I ordered 10 and paid 11.50. So not very much of royalties.

Since I've started a small press a few months ago, I'll look into other obtions as well as sponsorship for greater print runs. Thing is you have to get into into the book stores and that means getting past the wholesales, which are the ''gatekeepers" of the shops.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 13:42:14 BDT
Did they lower the price for ISBNs, last time I checked (a few months ago) they were 185 for a batch of ten. I like LS quite a bit, they also get you into the the online shops and they have a good choice for popular book sizes. I'm VERY scared of the formatting for them, but I have to learn it anyway, so I'll tackle the steep learning curve. For a start up company, I think, they are the best option. They are also able to supply Gardners or Bertrams with they bulk printing, which is good.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 13:43:49 BDT
A Waterstones manager's words to me: The wholesaler wants 50%, it's a shame but you can't really get rich by selling books.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 17:38:52 BDT
I bought my ISBNs nearly 18 months ago, from Nielsen's. It was just over 110 for 10. Maybe it's gone up since then.

Also, when I published The Girl on the Swing, you couldn't get creme paper in UK with lulu, neither could you get a size smaller than 9 x 6. Like digital books, self-publishing companies are pretty much all US and are geared to what is standard and accepted format in US. But a 9 x 6 book printed on thin white paper isn't the standard in UK. It screams 'I'm not a proper book'.

Almost all short run or POD printing is geared to the US trade paperback and is charged per page. So if you want a smaller dimension that will match UK mainstream quality paperbacks you will need more pages and the book will cost more to produce.

Re getting books in shops. If you live in a 'happening' sort of place with independent bookshops then fine. But I don't see much advantage to being stocked in shops because it will cost the customer more and unless it's on a special offer display or has some local connection such that the shop will promote it, then no-one's likely to see it to buy it anyway. For non-fiction/factual, obviously it's different.

Unless you are published by a big mainstream publisher AND they are putting your book on special promotion then you are likely to sell more print copies through amazon.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jun 2011 17:46:52 BDT
Re the formatting. I did it in word but I had an old operating system that wouldn't accept a postscript print driver and this created some problems. My nephews put the print file through open office and then through adobe distiller to produce the type of pdf specified by LS. I produced the cover on photoshop and my nephews put that through distiller too. When you've read the instructions a few times and set your page layout to the dimensions you will be printing it begins to make sense. And when you've produced the pdfs that is exactly what you will get in print, so there's every chance, when you submit your print files, they will be right first time. This contrasts strongly with people I know who've used various self-publishing companies and have had several attempts with lots of corrections.

Posted on 22 Jun 2011 17:47:20 BDT
Yeah, the 6x9 is awful and it's exactly what gets to me here. Though I have creme paper, it's still rubbish.

I think there's still a lot of people who like to browse books shops. I like the atmosphere in book shops, too, but I haven't bought a paperpack in a book shop for two years. Now I only read e-books.

Posted on 22 Jun 2011 18:01:38 BDT
Though if you're with LS and live anywhere near London they have an Espresso Book machine in Charing Cross, Borders. Unless it's Foyles, but I think Borders. The one on the right as you walk up from Trafalgar anyhow.
<slaps forehead>
Will look on Google and see which one I mean. Hang on.
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  17
Total posts:  37
Initial post:  19 Jun 2011
Latest post:  6 Mar 2013

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