Print On Demand

Print on demand relies on newer technology that allows small print runs to be produced relatively cheaply, even if more traditional methods such as offset are cheaper when doing longer print runs. This article does not dwell on services (such as iUniverse.com) that charge up-front fees for various editorial and distribution services.

Suppliers

Lulu.com

Lulu.com is the only POD service I've used. Although additional money provides additional distribution services, the basic model is that there's no money paid up front, and Lulu.com takes a cut of each copy sold (assuming the author wants a cut too). You may also choose to order a copy royalty-free for yourself.

There are various products including hardbacks, paperbacks, and calendars.

Example prices

Prices are in U.S. dollars before taxes and shipping. Lulu takes a cut of the selling price if the author chooses to get a royalty.

For black-and-white paperbacks, each page 8.5" x 11":

Number of pages Binding Price per copy
20 Saddle-stitched $4.93
32 Perfect $5.17
88 Saddle-stitched $6.29
100 Perfect $6.53
200 Perfect $8.53
740 Perfect $19.33

Black-and-white books may have colour covers for no extra charge.

If inside pages are colour, prices are:

Number of pages Binding Price per copy
20 Saddle-stitched $7.53
32 Perfect $9.33
88 Saddle-stitched $17.73
100 Perfect $19.53
200 Perfect $34.53
740 Perfect $115.53

Other page dimensions are available, although a smaller-sized page does not mean a lower price.

Hardbacks seem comparably priced: a 100-page hardback, perfect-bound, is $6.53 in black and white, and $19.53 in colour.

An 8.5" x 11" calendar costs $11.29, and a 13.5" x 19" calendar costs $19.95 each.

Example products

Examples of what people print and sell through Lulu can be seen in its so-called Marketplace. As a cautionary article (by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Inc.) about print on demand notes:

One of the most popular and cost-effective of the POD services, Lulu.com, is explicit about its business model. In a 2006 article in the Times UK, its founder identified the company's goal: "…to have a million authors selling 100 copies each, rather than 100 authors selling a million copies each." A Lulu bestseller is a book that sells 500 copies. There haven't been many of them.

More Information

Here are some further sources of information on POD services:

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