In recent years publishing and printing technology has seen significant changes. For the longest time offset printing was the standard process for printing books for the marketplace and still used by traditional publishers for mass print runs, producing mass market paperbacks and hardcovers.
In the last few years a digital print process called print on demand, has seen a huge surge in popularity. This digital printing process provides a new way to distribute books without the need of trucks driving all over the country and removing the need for huge warehouse storage.
With print on demand, commonly referred to as ‘POD’, books are only printed, packaged and shipped as publishers order them through their POD supplier such as Lightning Source or Createspace, or when consumers order them through retailers such as Amazon.
Print on demand is fast becoming the preferred method of printing and distribution for independent authors, small and medium sized publishers, as it reduces the upfront time and financial investment required considerably, while reaching the wider retail marketplace.
So which are the best print on demand options for independent authors and publishers?
Here at Book Cover Cafe we assist authors publish for profit covering all aspects of book production, so here’s the two main print on demand vendors we recommend to authors.
Lightning Source (LSI)
Considered the best option if you’re looking for a wider distribution. Lightning source allows publishers to print physical copies for themselves from as little as one copy. An account with Lightning Source also gives you distribution through the world’s largest book distributor INGRAM.
Lightning Source only deals with publishers, not directly with authors, so the real self publishing method is the best way to setup for Lightning Source. You’ll need professionally prepared files created that adhere to LSI’s specifications. For those outside the US, Lightning Source has offices all around the world which will keep your printing costs down, while accessing worldwide distribution.
What many authors don’t realise is that Lightning Source is also the printing and distribution backbone for many vanity and subsidy publishers! If you setup your own imprint (sole proprietor business) with the real self publishing method and create your own publisher account with Lightning Source, you cut out the unnecessary middle man.
Createspace (an Amazon company)
Owned by Amazon, Createspace offers independent publishers direct access to availability on Amazon. Unlike Lightning Source, Createspace allows authors to publish without setting up an imprint name (but there are caveats with this). Those residing in the US can also use Createspace to order physical print copies for live events or consignment deals. Others residing outside the US will find shipping costs will often outweigh the benefit of the low print cost of the book, reducing overall profit margins. This is where Lightning Source is a better option. If making your print book only available on Amazon is part of your publishing strategy, then Createspace would be a good fit for you.
Aside from the two main print on demand vendors, you can find alternative POD vendors local in your city. This is another option if selling to bricks and mortar stores is your main focus. Start with a Google search for those local companies and start comparing prices and services. Companies such as McPherson’s printing in Australia, provide a great service and will work with you in providing fulfillment to your chosen distributor.
Planning in advance
Understanding your publishing a book goals and your long term marketing strategy, is key to deciding the best option for you. Regardless of which print on demand vendor you choose, having a professionally produced book is key to your success.
Printing for profit
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