Print-on-Demand (POD) Options
by Ron Kurtus (revised 21 August 2015)
If you are a self-publishing your book or are an independent publisher, there are several print-on-demand (POD) options for you to print or publish your hardcopy book: CreateSpace, IngramSpark, Lulu, and Espresso Book Machine.
In all cases, you need to have your book and cover in print-ready PDF files.
Questions you may have include:
- What is CreateSpace?
- What is Lightning Source/IngramSpark?
- What is are other options?
This lesson will answer those questions.
CreateSpace is Amazon.com's POD company. You can set easily up an account from and start the publishing process.
There are several advantages for you to use CreateSpace. For one thing, they provide useful guides and tools to help in the publishing process.
For example, when I was publishing my 500-plus page Gravity and Gravitation book, they noted that my margins needed adjusting for a book of that size. That helped make the format more readable.
Another big advantage of using CreateSpace is that the book is immediately posted on Amazon.com, while going through another publishing house may take several weeks to be listed.
Lightning Source has been the industry standard for having books printed and distributed. However, due to competition from CreateSpace, they have changed their business model and introduced IngramSpark.
Right now, Lightning Source is intended for medium- and large-sized publishers. Self-publishers and independent publishers can use their new IngramSpark POD feature.
An advantage of using IngramSpark is that printing is done through Lightning Source, but the setup fees are less. In both companies, you can get worldwide distribution of your book.
Lulu and are other POD options.
Lulu is another choice for POD. They have no setup fees, but the books are slightly more expensive to print than CreateSpace and IngramSpark.
I've used Lulu to print up prototypes or proof copies of my books before sending them to the major POD houses.
You can sell your books on their website and can also purchase a distribution package.
Espresso Book Machine
An interesting new concept is the Espresso Book Machine, which allows you to print copies of your book while you wait. Go to the website to find a location near you.
Although you can get your books printed immediately, there is a setup fee, and the price of the book is about double that of other printers. But, you don’t have to pay shipping costs, so it might be worthwhile, especially if you are anxious to get your book printed.
Powell's Bookstores charge a $25 one-time setup fee, and each book costs you $5 + $.045 per page. Thus, to print one copy of a 200 page book would cost your $25 + $5 + $9 = $39. That is a steep price to pay, but you can get a book to review right away.
POD options include CreateSpace, Lightning Source/IngramSpark, Lulu, and Espresso Book Machine. All are worth examining to see which fits your needs.
Research your business options
Resources and references
CreateSpace review - SelfPubSmart.com
Espresso Book Machine - at Powell's Book Stores
Espresso Book Machine - Wikipedia (includes listing of schools and libraries with machine)
Questions and comments
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Print-on-Demand (POD) Options