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Print-on-Demand (POD) Options

by Ron Kurtus (revised 19 May 2018)

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, Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, Lulu, and a few others.

In all cases, you need to have your book and cover in print-ready PDF files.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. POD companies


CreateSpace is'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 Going through another publishing house may take several weeks to be listed.

Ingram companies


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.

Other options

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

Ron Kurtus' Credentials



CreateSpace review -

Lightning Source



Espresso Book Machine

Espresso Book Machine - at Powell's Book Stores

Espresso Book Machine - Wikipedia (includes listing of schools and libraries with machine)

Publishing Resources


Top-rated books on Self-Publishing

Questions and comments

Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

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School for Champions

Self-Publishing topics

Print-on-Demand (POD) Options

Self-Publishing topics

Initial considerations

Write book

Select publishing route

Start publishing business


Structure of book

Design book

Design cover

Publish hardcopy book



Publish e-book

Prepare to market

Convert format

Check Copy in eReader

Distribution and sales

Sell books

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