Since the topic of my class this month is on printing and distribution, I’ve decided to expand on a topic brought up in class discussion that is very useful and important to aspiring writers. What is this headline topic? Print on Demand services (P.O.D/POD because nostalgia)! For those who do not know a print on demand service provider will print books once an order is received allowing for single copies or small or large batches to be printed at one time.
Blurb is one print on demand service that authors could consider. Blurb offers print, ebook, and photography formats. It offers a storefront for artist to sell through directly and an Amazon distribution program. The direct selling method promotes that you keep 100% of the profit. Blurb offers design and layout options listing a few age dimensions on the subpages. It wants you to download their booking making software BookWright. Using their software appears to convert to iBook format. Blurb also does not have a minimum that must be ordered for print editions. They will print one or thousands and offer bulk discounts. You can also get an ISBN from Blurb or provide your own. I feel their website lacks accessible information. I had to search to find information about ISBNs, ownership, and copyright.
In the terms and conditions Blurb has a section that I would not want to agree to, though will likely find in the other websites’ T&Cs, “10. Other Content. Notwithstanding Section 8.4.2 above, You hereby grant to Blurb an irrevocable, perpetual, nonexclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free license (with right to sublicense) to use, create derivative works, reproduce, distribute and publicly display any Content, but not your Book Content, that you upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available on the Website or App (“Other Content”).
Lulu is another on POD provider popular with writers and photographers offering print, ebook, design, and professional aid. It offers different print quality levels to fit different budgets. The site details and shows the different binding, paper size, color, and document type options. Lulu makes ebooks available in several formats for popular readers including Nook, Kobo, Kindle, and iPad. Lulu offers a print and ebook package called Amplifier that makes the process simpler for newcomers. Lulu provides a free ISBN or you can provide your own. There is a book cover wizard for those who wish to make use. Book will be available to purchase on Lulu.com. As the site states, “priority distribution to the iBook store and the Barnes & Noble Nook Store,” and creators keep 90% of the revenue from ebook sales. Creators retain ownership of source files and the copyright. Lulu also offers promotional, editing, book to screen, and review services for artists who may need help/support in this area. The promotional services include posters, bookmarks, website hosting. One of the best options that sets Lulu apart are the retail channels made available for print and ebooks works. The website is very easy to navigate and informative. There are free tools and services and payments are made monthly.
Create Space is probably one of the most well known POD services because of its affiliation with Amazon. It is an Amazon company and a quick glance over the website would give the impression that it is specifically for Amazon and Kindle editions. It can appear a bit cluttered and overwhelming to navigate for beginners. There are professionals available for those who choose to reach out in the support and help section. The standard distribution is through Amazon and Amazon Europe but there is also an option for “expanded distribution.” This would make your book available through Barnes and Noble and Ingram, libraries, institutions, and Create Space Direct. It also offers a 60-day satisfaction guarantee though a refund is the last option, “we will work with you to reach a reasonable and satisfactory resolution. If we’re unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, we will refund the full amount you paid to us for that service” (Create Space Guarantee). The website does not come straight out and say it but the fixed fees and percentages are a bit higher than the others. You may have to search around the site to find this page, Royalties Overview, like I did that lists fixed fees and sales channel percentages, the homepage links you to a video explaining royalties and has a calculator. Like Lulu there are paid services as well as free resources.
Between the three mentioned I would choose and recommend Create Space or Lulu. Blurb offers limited ebook formatting and distribution where Lulu is diverse. Important information about source ownership and copyrights, payments, and fees are easy to find on Lulu. There is even an application for estimating revenue on print and ebooks showing all fees allowing artists to determine the best price for their product(s). The additional services offered may also be very useful for a self-publishing artist. Create Space has great options for design, editing, and distribution. There is a large community to turn to for support and questions. Plus there is power behind the brand, but you pay for that.
Another worth mentioning is indie ebook distributor Smashwords. So check them out if you aren’t interested in print editions at this time.
This is just my quick overview of three notable PODs. Please leave any comments suggestions, corrections, or additional information in the comments. If you’ve had personal experience with any POD I would love to hear about it.