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Last updated on Jan 20, 2023

Print on Demand Books: The 6 Best Services in 2023, Compared!

When it comes to picking a print-on-demand service, today’s authors are spoiled for choice. In fact, it has never been easier and more affordable for indie authors to sell quality print versions of their work, closing the gap between the world of traditional and self-published books.

As opposed to offset printing, which involves printing books in bulk and upfront, print-on-demand (POD) allows you to print copies only after they are ordered without having to worry about warehousing them. To help you confidently decide which print-on-demand supplier to trust, we’ve gone out and tested some of the most popular services available on the market.

We needed a guinea pig for our test, so we went with How to Market a Book by Reedsy’s very own Ricardo Fayet. Here’s a quick overview:

Service

On-site  Experience

Setup fee

Print cost*

Print quality

Distribution

Royalty

KDP Print

4/5 😊 

None

$4.5

Good

Excellent for Amazon sales, poor expanded plan

40-60%

IngramSpark

2/5 😐

$49

$5.8

Very Good

Excellent 

45-70%

Draft2Digital

5/5 😁

None

$5.6

Very Good

Uses Ingram

45%

Blurb

5/5 😁

None

$10

Great

Uses Ingram

45-64%

Bookvault

4/5 😊

$23

$4.3

Very Good

Excellent for UK sales, poor expanded plan

40-90%

BookBaby

3/5 🙂

$399

$6.2

Very Good

Uses Ingram + other retailers

45%

*Price for one trade book copy as of January 2023: 6”×9”, 328 pages, softcover, black and white interior. Note that, aside from your book specifications, print costs may also vary by country and are subject to change due to inflation.

Here’s what the copies looked like when they arrived in the mail:

Picture of a six books printed with different print on demand services

1. KDP Print

Landing page of KDP print

KDP Print is Amazon’s own print-on-demand service for indie authors, operating through its Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Printing a book on Amazon is straightforward, and since most authors opt to self-publish on Amazon through KDP anyway, it's pretty convenient to use the same platform. 

Setup

From your KDP ‘Bookshelf,’ you can start the process in a couple of clicks, filling in basic details about your book and choosing your printing specs. KDP print has by far the best visual representation of different types of paper quality and color options in this setup stage. 

Screengrab of KDP Print color and paper options
Screengrab: KDP Print

One thing to note is that the book cover file you upload must match the trim size you’ve selected perfectly, or else you won’t be able to move forward. The best way to make sure of this is to use KDP print’s book cover calculator and share the template with your book cover designer.   

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In our comparison of the most popular POD services, there were very few differences in print quality. However, we did notice that our copies from KDP were slightly less polished than the rest. The black and white images within the chapters were slightly lower in contrast compared to others, and there was a small issue with the binding which meant the book didn’t fully close when laid down flat.

Holding a KDP Print book copy to show the split in the book's middle
Note the natural split down the middle of the book.

In terms of typesetting, the text was perfectly aligned on the page with good readability on both the white and cream paper versions. 

KDP Print users have historically reported variations in quality, often changing with the season and supply chains. We don’t expect the issues we encountered with the binding and image quality to appear in all KDP paperbacks — it simply hammers home the fact that not every copy printed will be perfect. 

📘 A note on covers: for each of the suppliers in this review, we ordered both glossy and matte covers. Although the differences were marginal, the matte covers all had a certain gummy texture that may be due to the dark colors we’ve opted for on How to Market a Book.

Illustration explaining how Print on demand works, from order, to print, to delivery.

Costs, distribution, and royalties

In terms of costs, KDP Print has no setup fee and some of the lowest printing costs on the market. At the time of print, an author copy of our 328-page book cost $4.50 to print and was shipped within 1-3 working days. Amazon offers a 60% royalty rate (minus printing costs) for paperbacks sold on its marketplace.

If you opt for Amazon’s Expanded Distribution plan, which leverages Ingram’s distribution, you’ll get the same royalty for sales on Amazon, but only 40% (minus printing costs) for sales from outside retailers like Barnes & Noble.

Screengrab of KDP Print Estimated Earnings calculator
Estimated royalty = (List Price * 60%) - Printing

On their site, you can calculate your estimated print royalties. Note that earnings might differ depending on which Amazon marketplace you sell from, but generally speaking, they are 2-3 times higher than other services (for copies sold on Amazon). 

The verdict

Amazon’s KDP Print is a strong POD service, offering low costs, high royalties, and lightning-fast deliveries, so virtually every author should list their book on it. And in today’s self-publishing scene, regardless of genre, most of your online print sales will most likely come through Amazon, so maximizing your royalties by using their dedicated POD service makes sense.

If you want to distribute your book via non-Amazon retailers or brick-and-mortar stores (and enjoy better royalties on those sales), you should use other services besides KDP print.

Remember that Amazon doesn’t allow pre-orders for print books, but you could get around this by using IngramSpark or Draft2Digital for this purpose, as we’ll explain in the next section. 

Need to format your manuscript for publication? Download our free template below. 

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Manuscript Format Template

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2. IngramSpark

Landing page of IngramSpark

IngramSpark is the premier POD platform for authors looking to distribute their books to the greatest range of brick-and-mortar stores. With a distribution network of over 40,000 retailers and libraries, this might be your best option if you’re looking to stock your titles in all the traditional places readers get their books. 

Setup

The one downside of IngramSpark is that the platform is a bit clunky and text-heavy, making it the least user-friendly option of the bunch. As a first time author, you’ll likely go through IngramSpark’s Book Building Tool and have to read through the long and wordy book cover specifications to upload your manuscript. It’s easier if you have your files prepared, so make sure to use a professional writing app and collaborate with a book cover designer who is used to the industry book size standards.

Screengrab of IngramSpark's Print on demand platform
Screengrab: setting up your title on IngramSpark

Once you manage to upload your title, your book will undergo an automated and manual file review which takes approximately five business days. All in all, it’s a thorough but time-consuming process 一 not ideal for low-tech authors, especially given IngramSpark’s minimal customer support. 

Furthermore, if for any reason you decide to change your printing specs, like paper type or cover finish, you’ll have to pay $50 and wait for another 3-day review before you can distribute your title again. On a brighter note, they’ve improved their sales reporting dashboard, which you can now better read at a glance. 

🔍 For an insider look at this service, you can also check out our full IngramSpark review.

As mentioned above, the print quality is pretty similar across all the major print-on-demand services, with perfectly aligned pages and a solid binding. For a result that feels closer to the paperback novels you’ll find in bookstores, we’d certainly recommend the cream colored stock over the white paper option.

IngramSpark’s glossy cover had a slight texture that made it feel a bit more premium and pleasant to hold, compared to KPD and Blurb's equivalent covers. Again, very tiny differences but to some, this may be important.

Costs, distribution, and royalties

Listing your title on IngramSpark’s far-reaching network costs $49 一 nothing prohibitive, especially considering the value you get for it. On the other hand, printing and shipping costs align with the market average — as are their dispatching times. 

IngramSpark will grant you direct distribution to over 40,000 retailers in the US, from Barnes & Noble to your local bookstore. You’ll also be connected to Ingram’s global printing partners in countries like the UK, Australia, and China. Ingram’s logistics network is so well-established that even other retailers like D2D and Blurb use it. This means that if you directly choose IngramSpark, you avoid some of the middleman fees you’d have to pay with other distributors.

In terms of royalties, Ingram’s wholesaler discount ranges between 30%-55%, but they recommend the latter for maximum distribution. With our book (6”×9”, 328 pages, softcover, B&W interior), the printing cost came to $5.80, which means we’d have to price our book above $13 if we’re hoping to make any profit (at the 55% discount). You can find out how much you’ll make per book by using IngramSpark’s pricing calculator.

Finally, you’ll have to choose whether you want to make your book returnable or not. Many brick-and-mortar stores won’t order books that can’t be returned if they don’t manage to sell them, but this option puts financial pressure on authors, who’ll have to bear the printing cost and delivery fee of the returned copies ($3 per book in the US). 

Screengrab of how to set your book returnable on IngramSpark
Screengrab: Returns on IngramSpark

Due to the potentially high cost, perhaps even exceeding earnings, most authors are terrified of offering returns. But usually bookstores won’t order your book unless they can see there’s enough demand for it, or you actively ask them to do so (as a book promotion strategy), so the risk should be calculated. That said, you should be prepared to deal with the potential financial impact of returns, for example by setting your book to be “destroyed” instead of delivered back, so you’d “only” pay for the print cost.   

The verdict

If you're looking to sell on major chain and indie stores, digital and brick-and-mortar alike, IngramSpark is by far the best option. The prices are cheap enough to make some profit, and its distribution reach is unparalleled. You’ll only need to arm yourself with patience to deal with its slow interface and review process.

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, you can always combine KDP Print and IngramSpark to get the best of both worlds. To do that, buy your own ISBN number, then set up your book on KDP and IngramSpark separately, making sure you list your book on Amazon first, and that you do not select the Expanded Distribution option.

As mentioned above, you can also use IngramSpark (or Draft2Digital) to set up pre-orders on Amazon. But since Amazon does not play too well with external vendors, you could encounter “inventory issues”, shipping delays, or “out of stock” warnings on your Amazon listing. If you go down this route, one option is to create two slightly different versions of your book, assign them two different ISBN numbers (that you own), and list them separately on both platforms (e.g., Amazon and IngramSpark) 一 so that they’ll be treated as different books. 

🤔 What are the minimum requirements to get stocked in bookstores?

  • ⛔ Don’t distribute with Amazon’s expanded plan. Many bookstores are “at war” with Amazon and won't order from it. It’s better to use platforms that  have a good relationship with bookstores, such as IngramSpark, for example. 
  • 💸 Offer a 55% retail discount. This is the industry standard 一 physical bookstores, both big chains and indies, will not stock your book otherwise. 
  • 🔁 Make your book returnable. Again, many bookstores will pass if it’s not. 

3. Draft2Digital

Landing page of DraftToDigital

Draft2Digital (D2D) has beta tested their print-on-demand service for years and, while it hasn't officially launched out of beta, authors can already use it. D2D relies on Ingram both for printing and distribution, but its competitive advantage is in the user experience.

Setup

Draft2Digital's user interface is intuitive and clean, making it easy to upload files and information, as well as preview your book interior and cover crop lines.

Screengrab of D2D's POD interface
Screengrab: setting up your title on Draft2Digital

Moreover, if you run into trouble, their customer support is very helpful, and they also have a hotline you can call. 

As mentioned, Draft2Digital relies on Ingram to fulfill their print orders, which means that your customers should receive similar quality copies no matter which of the two options you go for. 

Our take? The print quality is good and should serve most authors well, so long as their book files are formatted correctly.

Costs, distribution, and royalties

The administrative costs of printing with D2D are slightly lower than with Ingram. They don’t charge a setup fee, and if you want to change your book's specs, you’ll only have to pay $25 (for a ‘change token’) instead of Ingram’s $50 surcharge. 

As mentioned, D2D relies on the Ingram network for distribution, including major bookstores and indie shops. As opposed to Ingram, which offers a 45-70% range when it comes to royalty, D2D has a flat (and standard) 45% royalty rate. You can easily calculate your profit per copy by entering your book’s trim size, page number, word count, and sale price. 

Screengrab of D2D's estimated royalties calculator
Estimated royalties for our trade book, 6"×9", 328 pages, softcover, B&W interior

It's also important to note that D2D doesn't allow book returns, so if you want your book stocked on brick-and-mortar shelves, you should use IngramSpark instead.

The verdict

There’s a lot to like about Draft2Digital’s POD service 一 it leverages the printing and distribution capabilities of Ingram, but offering slightly cheaper prices, a much better user interface, and solid customer support. Their heavy reliance on Ingram's networks could, however, cause problems that they can't directly and quickly fix, so keep that in mind.

🤔 Can self-published authors get their book into bookstores? 

Indie authors can find support from many book sellers if they meet the minimum requirements listed above and, as The Hot Sheet suggests, develop a relationship with them. To do that: 

  • participate in regional bookseller conferences, 
  • offer pre-orders exclusively to one store, 
  • organize live sign-ups and other special deals. 

Importantly, look to booksellers in your immediate community, where your book will be more likely to be sold.     

4. Blurb

Landing page of Blurb

Blurb’s print-on-demand service is certainly more expensive than the other options on display here, but they provide a great user experience and quality products. 

Setup

Blurb’s platform is modern, fast, and intuitive, making for one of the smoothest upload experiences of the bunch. If your print files are ready, you can set up your book for sale in under 10 minutes. Their software automatically detects and corrects potential issues in your files, then clearly previews how they’ll look on paper. And should issues arise, Blurb’s customer support is stellar.

Screengrab of Blurb's POD interface
Screengrab: Blurb's file print preview 

One minor difference, compared to other services, is that the matte cover finish is only available for hardcover, whereas the softcover can only be glossy. 

Though we’ve mentioned before that most of the POD services offer similar print quality, it should be noted that the copy we received from Blurb did have a slight edge over the others. The colors on the cover design were the closest to the original files we uploaded, and the contrast of the print was stronger — making for an easier read and overall more professional feel.

The attention to color and clear printing is not surprising when you consider that Blurb’s strength lies outside just printing standard-sized trade paperbacks; they also offer a range of high-quality photo books (with landscape and portrait options), as well as magazine formats, giving you more choices for designing your product. There is, however, a cost trade-off, so if your book is mainly text-based and has very few to no images, Blurb may not be worth the extra pesos.

Costs, distribution, and royalties

A point in Blurb’s favor is that there’s no setup fee to list your title with them or to change your book specs (although you’ll have to create a new title from scratch). But Blurb remains expensive: the printing cost per copy is approximately $10, which is twice as much as the other services. The reason is likely the slightly higher print quality, but that’s hard to justify for most authors. Shipping-wise, we received our copy in just a few business days.  

As for distribution, there are two main options on Blurb: the Global Retail Network, which distributes through Ingram, and Blurb Direct Sales, which is Blurb’s own bookstore. If you go with the latter, you'll lose significant discoverability, but will be able to make more profit per sale since there is no distribution fee. If you choose to go global instead, you can pick either a 36% or 55% wholesale discount, with the latter being the recommended choice. 

Screengrab of Blurb's estimated earnings for print on demand
Estimated royalties for our trade book, 6"×9", 328 pages, softcover, B&W interior

With our test book, we had a base cost of just over $10. To benefit from the widest discoverability, we’d have to set our wholesale discount at 55%, meaning that our retail price would have to be at least $22.38 if we wanted to make a single cent of profit. The price is almost certainly prohibitive for writers of fiction and memoir, whose readers are used to buying paperbacks for under $17. 

The verdict

Blurb is a well-rounded service that offers great print quality and distribution, but it’s not for every author. We’d recommend it for writers who can support a ‘premium’ price (i.e. heavily illustrated or photo books), those who particularly care about print quality, or those whose top priority isn’t turning a direct profit from book sales (if you are publishing a book for business leads or for family members, for example). 

🤝 We’ve partnered with Blurb to make it easier (and a bit more affordable) for authors to format and print their beautiful books. Find out more here.

5. Bookvault

Landing page of Bookvault

Bookvault is a recent UK-based POD service that specializes in direct sales fulfillment. It integrates seamlessly with Shopify and WooCommerce, allowing authors to sell print books directly through their author website, and have those print orders fulfilled by BookVault.

Setup

Modern and easy to navigate, Bookvault’s app is solid, though the user experience still has room for improvement. Setting up a title is quick and straightforward, and it’s fairly easy to order an author copy and manage distribution options. 

Bookvault's Print on demand interface
Screengrab: Setting up a title on Bookvault

Based on our experience ordering test copies, we’d suggest that you double check your printing specs throughout the process. Early in the process, we accidentally chose a format size that wasn’t compatible with our book file. The issue wasn’t automatically flagged, which resulted in us receiving a test copy that was… a little off.

On the left, a book printed in the wrong size, on the right, the corrected version
Before and after correcting our mistake.

To their credit, Bookvault corrected the issue promptly and free of charge 一 which was nice on their behalf.  

As expected, the quality of the final books we received from Bookvault was on par with IngramSpark. The colors on the cover design were reproduced faithfully, and nothing was out of place within the body of the book itself.

Costs, distribution, and royalties

There is a $23 fee to submit your title on Bookvault and access their retail network. We think it’s a fair price, especially if you consider the low printing costs and generous royalty scheme.  Purchased in the UK, our test book (same specs as before) cost £4 ($4.85) to print, and was delivered within 3-5 business days.

Bookvault distributes through The Great British Book Shop, which have their own retail network, but can also list your book on channels like Amazon, Gardner, and Adlibris.

When you choose a retail price and play with the wholesaler discount, you'll see the estimated earnings after printing costs.

Estimated royalties for our trade book, 6"×9", 328 pages, softcover, B&W interior

If you use their Shopify or Woocommerce integration, you can sell directly on your website, avoid paying retailer fees, and keep the earnings minus print costs. If you don’t use ecommerce services, but you still want to sell “as directly as possible”, you can point your readers to buy from The Great British Bookshop and enjoy a rather high royalty payout.

Royalties on Bookvault are pretty generous, but there’s a catch: since Bookvault’s printing facilities are in the UK, worldwide shipping is expensive (ranging between $14一$32 per book for US orders, for example). This wouldn’t eat into your margin, but it may discourage readers from purchasing the book at all, since it’s way less convenient than if you sold your book directly on platforms like Amazon, where shipping costs are low or free (with Prime).

💲Bookvault discount for Reedsy authors:

Use the code JP23-REEDSY to get 50% off your title setup or 5% off your production costs. You can use the code on both services, for a maximum of 5 times in total.  

The verdict

Overall, Bookvault is a perfect option for authors who can sell directly from their site, and sell mostly to readers in the UK. If your readers are based in the US, BookVault is still a good option for direct print sales fulfillment, as long as your readers don’t mind paying a hefty shipping fee to get their copy. The company is currently looking to find print partners or facilities in the US, so this may change soon, but at the moment it’s not fully ready for worldwide distribution.

 ☝️Make sure your book is typeset by a professional before you upload it for print. It will save you a lot of extra headaches!

6. BookBaby

Landing page of BookBaby

BookBaby is a platform that provides a range of publishing-related services, as well as a print-on-demand option for authors. 

Setup

When you begin the setup process, you’ll be asked how many copies of the book you want to print. This may be confusing, as POD entails printing only after you make a sale. The reason is that BookBaby uses a mix of POD and offset printing: first, you have to make a bulk order (between 25 and 2,000 copies), then your book will be made available for POD. 

Price for ordering 100 copies on BookBaby

If you don't want to place a bulk order, you can print a single copy of your book, but it will be quite expensive compared to a bulk order, which comes at a discount. Overall, this is a great option for authors looking to order a bunch of physical copies for promotional purposes and in-person sales to begin with, but not for those looking to get a single author copy before distribution.

Setting up your book for printing is relatively easy, and only takes a few minutes. The process, though, is not super intuitive: to choose your paper type or cover finish, for example, you need to first create a project, then “go back” and edit it. That said, if you have your files ready, the upload is fast and you can quickly preview how they’ll look. 

Screengrab: setting up your title on BookBaby

The quality of the test copies we received from BookBaby were good and up to the standards set by their rivals over at IngramSpark and KDP, with perfect alignment and a solid finish on the cover. However, for the price that Bookbaby charges for their services, one would hope for a little bit more.

Costs, distribution, and royalties

To join BookBaby’s POD program and distribute to Amazon, Ingram, and other major retailers, you’ll need to pay a setup fee of $399. The price is high, especially when compared to other distribution networks like Ingram’s, which costs a fraction of it. You could also choose to sell exclusively on their Bookshop for $149, but this would mean renouncing distribution to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all other major retailers. 

If you choose to “offset print” a single copy, for a 6"x9" trade book it will cost you $138 ($99 for the book, $38 for shipping), while a batch of 100 copies will cost you $1,430 ($1,270 for the books, $160 for shipping). This approach won’t make sense for most self-publishing authors, unless they want to order a much bigger batch for marketing purposes and have a storage solution ready. 

Why is it so costly? BookBaby claims to offer a more professional service than their competitors. According to their marketing materials, a skilled staff member (as opposed to automated software) reviews your book project and identifies any issues, ensuring everything is okay. They do this within two business days and print it just as fast in their facilities. From our experience, BookBaby has excellent customer support, with helpful team members answering the phone when you call.

We chose BookBaby’s expanded distribution plan for our book, which gave us a minimum retail price of $16.03. This covers the book’s printing costs and the retailer's wholesale discount of 55%. When we did the math, each copy would cost us around $6.20 to print, which is more expensive than any other service, except Blurb.

At an average retail price of $16.99 for a paperback, you’d be looking at a meager $1.39 profit on Amazon or B&N sales. Royalties are much higher on their Bookshop, but again, this is equivalent to selling directly.

Estimated royalties for our trade book, 6"×9", 328 pages, softcover, B&W interior

The verdict

BookBaby's offset printing discounts and direct sales option through their Bookshop page might appeal to authors with a dedicated and hungry print readership. If you know you can sell thousands of copies at in-person events, then the $399 setup fee won't scare you that much. However, if that’s not the case, you should be better off using some of the other, cheaper services mentioned in this post.


Each print-on-demand book service has strengths and weaknesses, making it hard to pick a one-size-fits-all option. Hopefully, our review and analysis gives you a clearer picture and will allow you to make a more informed decision about what fits you best. It’s time to place some orders — after all, nothing beats flipping the pages of a physical copy.

– Originally published on Feb 13, 2019

66 responses

Matt Beighton says:

14/08/2018 – 18:35

I've used Ingram for a couple of years now and have no idea where your annual fee for them comes from?

↪️ Gandalf-the-Geru replied:

15/08/2018 – 10:42

They are probably automatically taking it off your account without you noticing. It is $12 per year.

↪️ Matt Beighton replied:

15/08/2018 – 13:57

Nope, they definitely don't have one. I've phoned and checked. The lady thought Lightning Source (another branch of Ingram) may have, but Ingram Spark definitely don't have.

↪️ Gandalf-the-Geru replied:

16/08/2018 – 10:15

Thanks for the update, Matt. I've read this misinformation in two places. Mind you, they misinform in their own instructions too. In their set-up guide they state "IngramSpark does not offer barcodes. You must supply your own." I went to the trouble of buying one and then found out they DO supply barcodes if you don't add one.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

16/08/2018 – 10:32

Ah, that's interesting. Thanks for flagging it up, folks. We'll have a look into it again and make the edit :)

↪️ Bill Peschel replied:

30/09/2018 – 14:15

They used to charge. Now they don't (or, at least they dropped it awhile back).

↪️ Denise replied:

07/11/2019 – 23:29

I have the same question. I also use Ingram.

Michael Doane says:

14/08/2018 – 18:46

Great article. These charts are very helpful for authors who are looking to compare different platforms for self-publishing print copies of their books.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

05/09/2018 – 20:01

Thanks Michael! :)

Swami Tarakananda says:

14/08/2018 – 18:48

I would like to share my experience and frustration with working with IngramSpark. First, they have TERRIBLE customer service. Phone customer service is virtually non-existent, and email is slooowww, and often they have not grasped the import of my question. Their printing has been mediocre, with one page being light and the facing page dark, and as far as images go, it is a flip of the coin if they will get things right even after following their specs to the letter. It takes weeks to get your proof copy, and if there are problems such as the ones listed above, it can be a months to get the final product as you want it, with the slow costomer service and slow printing/shipping. And furthermore, the broad distribution has not yeilded sales. Yes, I know it is up to the author or publisher to do the marketing, but don't expect an automatic sales increase just for being listed with Ingram. It is true that Amazon is not the best place to have your books available to bookstores and libraries, but IngramSpark seems to be no better as far as sales, with a big headache thrown in for good measure. Take this into consideration as one person's experience before trying IngramSpark. Brother Simeon lightofthespiritpress.com

↪️ Jill R. replied:

06/03/2019 – 23:06

In my experience Ingram Spark/Lightning Source is a terrible company to work with and prints a horrible quality of book.

↪️ P Berman replied:

23/06/2019 – 17:09

Our former publisher used Lightning Source. The results were mixed and sometimes inconsistent. The black and white paper #50 is HORRIBLE. The books look like a bound photocopy and the show through makes it almost unreadable. Photos come out dark and blobby. They don't offer any better paper thickness or whiteness options for B/W. However, the color printing is better quality and the hardback covers are really nice. They REALLY need to offer upgrades to the paper stock for B/W printing and then they would be almost perfect.

↪️ Jerry Gomez replied:

19/06/2019 – 22:08

I've made several attempts to list my book with IS, but their form is more like an obstacle course. It will delete your info without warning and there is no way to save it!?!! Customer service has been helpful 50% of the time which means you are on your own the other 50%. I am uncertain if I will ever get their book listing process to ever work like Amazon's, and therefore I am looking at other options for a printer/distributor.

↪️ Christian Kelly replied:

30/08/2019 – 22:49

I am encontering the same issue with Ingram. Primarily the customer service issue. They are not suited very well for new authors. If this is your first rodeo, maybe don't use them because they are more trouble than they are worth.

Lexi Mize says:

14/08/2018 – 20:00

I went with TheBookPatch.com I epub'd to Draft2Digital, took their 6x9 PDF they provided for POD over the thebookpatch. I downloaded the cover template that matched my page count; made mine to fit; upload it and the ready-to-print PDF and presto-chango I had a physical book people could buy with a link. All as a free service. And the books are reasonably priced, but I could charge whatever I wanted (above a certain cost basis). Text grids do not match up, ink is matte. Soft cover turned out nice. http://thebp.site/144960

↪️ Reedsy replied:

05/09/2018 – 20:02

Hi Lexi, sounds like you had a pretty positive experience — glad to hear it! We'll look into covering them next time :)

↪️ Whatisgoingon replied:

07/03/2019 – 19:38

I just did a comparison for printing of my 6x9, 250 page novel. Printing on Amazon is $3.92 and the book patch calculated it as $7.75 for 1-49 copies. I would love to find a printer who can compete.

Patricia Horan says:

18/08/2018 – 19:59

Why is a barcode called an ISBN here? An ISBN is nothing more than a string of numbers. Very confusing to this professional.

↪️ Krisz Nadasi Writes KNW replied:

21/08/2018 – 12:20

Because it is called an ISBN. You have to put both the string of numbers AND the barcode on the book if you want the book in retail (and there are other rules too).

↪️ Victoria replied:

20/08/2019 – 01:52

A barcode is that little square box of lines that's found on everything you buy, most often as a machine-readable price tag. An ISBN is the record-keeping number of a BOOK, and it identifies that book/manuscript worldwide. The barcode they mean here is specifically the one that carries the ISBN. (dictionary:" international standard book number, a ten-digit number assigned to every book before publication, recording such details as language, provenance, and publisher.") A barcode can be anything, but an ISBN is this only, and can be coded into a barcode.

↪️ Denise replied:

07/11/2019 – 23:33

Excellent response.

Stephen Connor says:

22/08/2018 – 17:45

I sell paperbacks on Amazon through Ingram at 30%. There is no extra 'fee' to Amazon. My books show as 'in stock' and they sell. As an example, yesterday I uploaded a cover change to Ingram and today it is showing on Amazon (but third-party sellers still have the old cover up).

Michelle Lovi says:

28/08/2018 – 23:54

You can't "opt out" of Amazon distribution for print books published at IngramSpark. This is only available for IngramSpark ebooks. However, if you also publish using the same ISBN at CreateSpace/KDP Print, they will get preference to supply the book ordered on Amazon.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

05/09/2018 – 19:58

Hi Michelle, this is absolutely right, thank you for bringing it to our attention! We're amending the post to reflect the correct "opting in and out" information now.

Daniel says:

05/09/2018 – 18:29

Just a quick question; Which platform shall I use to print out my own book for myself? I mean, I'd like to get around 100 books for the wholesale price for my own use. I'm based in the UK.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

05/09/2018 – 18:30

I can personally recommend CPI in the UK: http://www.cpi-print.com/

↪️ Daniel replied:

05/09/2018 – 18:44

Thank you very much. Just sent them a quote.

↪️ Victoria replied:

20/08/2019 – 01:57

Lulu.xpress.com does beautiful printing on very good paper (in "standard" and even better on "premium" at very low cost, and is blissfully user-friendly to work with. Beware tho - plain "lulu.com" is totally different. If you just want books for yourself, or to sell to bookstores yourself, go to xpress.lulu.com, NOT lulu.com, that one is a nightmare.

Whatisgoingon says:

20/09/2018 – 17:50

I am wary of Amazon. My first novel went live in e-book and printed formats through KDP. On my Facebook page I had eight people who purchased the printed 6x9 tradebook through Amazon wanting me to sign it. I check with my stats and it says I have sold only five paperbacks. I email them with the discrepancy and they say, "No. our records are right." How do we know? They control everything in the process and we have to take their word for it. It would take nothing to add a bit of code that skims off a few books for their added profit. E-books are generally about 1 mb in size and cost close to nothing to host and send off. Amazon also has a eight dollar fee that they tack on that for electronically dispersing our funds. I see this all as a recipe for disaster.

↪️ Jill R. replied:

06/03/2019 – 23:59

Amazon is so netorious for writing the problem off. I despise working with them but have to at my job,

↪️ Victoria replied:

20/08/2019 – 02:04

I hate Amazon for so many reasons. They robe authors and publishers alike, and ge away with it as all the millionaires do. This is Trump's new "Great Amemrica." It's great for all greediest and richest few people, but not so great for decent people) What I hate most about Amazon is that when you go there with the plan to buy a new book, they immediately try to sell you a USED copy dirt cheap. This means they get that money, whatever it is, and the author gets NOTHING. This is an outrage, and unethical, but legal. It;s just WRONG to do that, when 99.5 % of any good authors never make any actual profit by writing.

LDianeWolfe says:

01/10/2018 – 13:45

Another option is Lightning Source (also Ingram) if you fall into the category of small publisher by publishing others' books. There is no set up fee, no revision fee, and the first year distribution is free.

AMartin123 says:

31/12/2018 – 22:33

..

Diane Frances Elliott says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

I am both traditional and self published. I just received my first shipment of books from Ingram. They are exactly as we designed them an are beautiful.

↪️ Denise replied:

07/11/2019 – 23:37

I have been with Ingram Spark (I started when they were Lightning Source) and I haven't experienced any of thr issues I've read here. I'm very happy with Ingram Spark. I have actually won two book awards and the criteria includes design & print quality.

Diane Frances Elliott says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

I'm new to this. Just published with Ingram and finding my way.

Tesia Blackburn says:

11/05/2019 – 15:24

I've had great experiences at Ingram. I've published two books with them and I'm very happy with the results. True, the learning curve is steep but the quality of the book is great. I opted to use a professional book designer after I did the rough first draft. The pro only cost me $100 and was well worth the effort. The book looks and feels great. I've had tons of compliments on both books. They sell on Amazon and through Ingram's distribution network and I get royalties every month. What more could I ask for? Check out the listing on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Tesia-Blackburn/e/B00FITAL3O

↪️ Theresa Norris replied:

08/06/2019 – 10:20

Can you share your book designer contact information? Your books look wonderful! I am beginning a new project and hope to imporve on my first! Thanks Theresa Davis Norris, Our Family, LULU PUBLISHING

↪️ Denise replied:

07/11/2019 – 23:38

I am also very pleased.

Joanne Koenig-Macko says:

14/05/2019 – 10:34

I published a 6x9 book with Book Baby last Fall and was very pleased. My ink is not glossy as was described here. The cover is amazing in gloss. For an extra fee, they got the book to all the major distributors and provide a website for your client to order from where you get a higher percentage back than anything sold on Amazon. The ISBN code was the least expensive. I have to wait 90 days to get paid from any books sold on Amazon published through Book Baby and no way of knowing what Amazon actually sold so that's confusing. I was lucky to have my own editor, a friend to format it, and my artist son design the cover which saved a me a fortune. If the book is not sent in the right way, it will be rejected. I had many illustrations/photos in it which caused a lot of problems at first to make sure they were formatted properly. Also found out that if I convert this to an e-book, it won't convert because too many photos in it would take too long to upload? The hardest part for me is getting the book to readers.. the marketing end. Once your clients buy from you or Amazon, it's figuring out how to get them to new readers.

Sarah Fletcher says:

30/06/2019 – 13:58

Thank you for a very helpful article. I'm putting together a short story collection. My main concern is that I also illustrate, so I have done cover illustrations for each story and wanted to include these cover pages throughout the book - that is, it would be more visual than your average short story collection. So based on the advice in your article, I should go with Blurb to get these images printed nicely. I have used Blurb before for poetry books, just for myself or for gifts so far. I have had a fair bit of trouble with their formatting rules both times - I follow the instructions as closely as possible, and still end up with blank pages at the start and end of the book, and their customer service doesn't seem to be able to guide me on how to avoid this. I want to have the book mainly available as an ebook, with print on demand hard copies available, but I also want to get a small batch of hard copies printed for myself to give as gifts to my Patreon patrons and friends and family. Based on the previous cost of getting single copies, I wouldn't be able to afford the number of copies I want in this small batch. Can anyone tell me more about the volume discount? I was hoping to change to a different print on demand company for this, but it sounds like Blurb might still be best given the number of images I have in my book. I was also kind of hoping to avoid using Amazon but it sounds like avoiding Amazon basically means avoiding the best options. Has anyone printed anything containing images using KDP Print/CreateSpace before? How did it turn out?

↪️ Elizabeth Beardslee replied:

03/10/2019 – 17:47

I just received my proof copy of a short photo book from Amazon KDP. After fighting with their poor formatting instructions for a few days, it was a perfection. Every page of the copy was "miscut" with uneven white margins (pages are black in background). In addition, every page had a cloud of white noise, almost like a footprint. Only the cover was as expected. I called Amazon to no avail as no one in customer service was in the least bit interested. The work that I have spent nearly a year perfecting will simply remain as a draft in Amazon KDP for eternity.

Chip Miller says:

13/07/2019 – 19:59

I have a heavily illustrated book on a Chinese martial art. I would like hardbook (a few copies for organization members) and widespread digital and paperback distribution. It seems that using Blurb to publish would be the best first step. Is it possible to take the book after it is published and then have KDF handle distribution and POD? Thanks for your help and insight. This blog was a splendid find.

Victoria S Wright says:

15/07/2019 – 19:12

What are "doublons?" Assuming this is a typo in the article??

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

16/07/2019 – 08:34

Haha, a typo indeed. Now corrected — thanks, Victoria.

Luci M. says:

27/07/2019 – 13:39

I am having an absolutely terrible experience with Blurb. I chose them originally because of their focus on books with illustrations/photos. The first book I had printed with them was great, so I submitted another book and a slightly revised edition of the first. The second book I did had ink-spotted pages in about 80% of the books I ordered, and a greyish tinge to the cover. But the second edition of the first book is a real nightmare. The margins range from 1/16-3/16 off and the rabbit on the cover (same file as first book with only a word added) has pink-tinged fur. Overall the books look extremely amateurish and unprofessional. Blurbs response to my concerns was to tell me problems with printing POD books cannot be changed due to the process. I knew that wasn't true; I've used other POD publishers willing to correct their errors in printing. Blurb did reprint my orders, and the book quality was even worse! Note, this second edition has the same layout and is very little changed from the first. Even the page count is the same. So I know they CAN print this book interior and cover correctly, but are so far refusing to do so, although they admit the problems are printing errors, not my errors.

zylstra says:

12/08/2019 – 04:19

Uh ... Lulu?

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

12/08/2019 – 09:09

A Lulu review is coming real soon!

Sylvia Saxon says:

18/08/2019 – 00:28

Thanks for this article. For years I used CreateSpace though Amazon. It was easy and seamless to publish through them. I bragged and voluntarily promoted them to anyone who would listen. THEN the changed the Kindle platform and Createspace went away. I HATE the new format. This is why I found this article. I would love to find a POD publisher that ISN"T KIndle.

Victoria says:

20/08/2019 – 01:34

I wonder why you do not mention Lulu.com? They do good printing and production, reasonable (but not cheap) distribution to Ingram and Amazon. But have a really screwed-up uploader/wizard which wasted a ton pf my time. I also tried BLURB and was horrified at the printing job they did. My proof copy had the first 8 pages of the PDF file simply missing! The book's first page was the 9th page of the file (I didn't even know that was possible to do to a PDF) and they added 8 blank pages at the back of the book. Crazy. Also, the cover was falling off, and there were globs of glue at the seams, and the paper they use is very thin and cheap. No way I will send a book of mine out into the world like that. I wrote to complain, they made me prove it by sending them scans and shots of all, and resend the file, still they would not refund any part of my cost. I would NEVER recommend Blurb to anyone! A printer must be RELIABLE above all else!

MD Muller says:

05/09/2019 – 14:36

Useful article. I am using KDP but am looking for alternatives, unfortunately, amazon have virtually cornered the market

Bee says:

09/09/2019 – 11:13

I want to self-publish, but don't want to risk the "returnable". Money's tight when you're trying to make money! Would the best route be to try to go through a traditional publishing house? I'm split between the two... Anyone ever have any issues with returned books?

Deezy says:

11/09/2019 – 20:25

I respect the author's opinion on this matter, but feel to add one topic not covered in this article - print quality, specifically with book covers. Amazon's prints are inferior to others I have used on this list, and some not on this list, such as Lulu.com. While their prices are low and their delivery time is great, their printed covers tend to curl up after one or two reads, and my customers view this as a sign of cheaply done print job. Just one person's opinion.

↪️ Denise replied:

07/11/2019 – 23:41

I've never had this issue with Ingram Spark. I highly recommend th em for books with mainly text and those with images.

Clay Clarkson says:

16/10/2019 – 22:25

What about retail price control on Amazon? With KDP, Amazon determines what price our book will sell. They are currently discounting one of our best selling titles by 30% off retail. That devalues our book. As I understand it, though, if I use AmazonAdvantage I can control the price of our books. So I'm considering using IngramSpark for all printing, and AmazonAdvantage for Amazon sales. Would that kind of strategy make sense, or am I missing something? I'm not sure what the net return comparisons between AA and KDP sales would be. Thanks for any input your might be able to provide.

Lauren says:

22/10/2019 – 22:50

I haven't seen this option addressed--what if we want to sell a non-fiction POD book and ebook from our website ONLY (unlike most people), so don't need/want Amazon, distribution, bookstores, etc.?? Can we opt out of all those things, and just have a company print and drop ship the book when ordered, and send out the ebook file when ordered, WITHOUT making them available or seen anywhere else? Preferably a seamless, integrated process (API) on our website so customers put in their payment and shipping info (probably on our website and not the printer's), then hit "Order," and it looks like we are handling everything but the order actually goes directly to the printer to fulfill without our involvement. Obviously the printer would need to take a cut for printing, shipping, and handling (maybe charge an account we set up there if we instead of they are collecting the customer's payment). And same if they handle the ebook sales for us. So they could take a cut of sales but maybe it would be less than if they were also handling distribution? Let me know if anyone has done this or if anyone has recommendations of companies in the U.S. that could do this at a decent price (with a quick author proof and with good customer services in case there are difficulties).

↪️ ken replied:

06/12/2019 – 05:53

Hi Lauren, Your idea is a great one - have you had any luck finding out if what you seek exists? If so, please share with me?!!! Ken

April D Brown says:

11/11/2019 – 04:50

I'm just so confused about where to start with KDP. I must be missing something in terms of publishing something that I want physically printed. All I see on the site is that they offer print on demand for publishers. Then you can click on the createspace link but your only option is to enter an email for a previous account. I can't get into my old one and I don't see a place to create a new one. I just want an easy to use self publish site that will print physical copies, and not screw me over financially. I also want it to be easy to purchase online. Any advice or direction is appreciated.

↪️ Ebony Love replied:

26/11/2019 – 19:05

KDP is connected to your Amazon account. If you have an Amazon account, you can just sign in to KDP with your Amazon credentials. If you do not have an Amazon account, then you can create one. Once you are logged in, THEN you can try to connect to your old CreateSpace account and import your books. Just go to kdp.com and look on the right side of the page. The difference that may be confusing is that CreateSpace, while owned by Amazon, was run as a separate company. KDP is integrated into the Amazon experience. If you have Amazon, you have KDP.

Shirley Whitney says:

12/11/2019 – 17:09

KDP has not been as helpful in resolving issues as Createspace was. Although you say that their software is the same, I have updated books previously accepted and printed by Createspace with the exact same formats and have had their screeners reply with changes needed to the formats. All of Amazon's POD has language limits. For instance, they will not do a new publish or even a re-publish of a book in Chinese. I have to carefully examine each book ordered and often find issues of either ink problems or skewed pages. I often wonder what customers who order directly from KDP get. When I send pics of misprints they do give me refunds and sometimes ask for the misprints to be returned. For that they email me a prepaid postal label. I do appreciate this article. We've been looking for other POD options, but the ones we have looked at come with reviews that make KDP look "normal". It makes me wonder if it is the technology that is inadequate or the people running it. Automation seems to have its limits!

alice han says:

20/12/2019 – 00:48

I love your suggestion after I read through your analysis to chose my final sale service and pod service. thank you very much ( that is to work with BookBabys Support Team , to use Amzon and Non-Amazon Stores , both KDP and IngramSpark for distribution but do not use Amazon expanded distribution definitely!)

alice han says:

20/12/2019 – 00:51

it is a clear well done analysis !

Lynn says:

26/12/2019 – 05:44

I'm confused on all of these if you actually have to give them money up front. I have published literary fiction with university presses, but i'm interesting in self publishing a wood fire cookbook memoir and another carnivore cookbook. i would have a lot of pictures in both. not sure the best company...

DIANA L. HOLMLUND says:

02/01/2020 – 00:59

Print-on-demand information shared is invaluable, in particular, the charts allowing comparison. The blog has done the "leg-work" which would have required days of research. Kudos are in order.

Loren Moss says:

17/02/2020 – 20:20

This is good information. I have worked as an editor for years and have worked in publishing houses as well as published directly using Createspace & Amazon which I think are just fine. Now I am editing professional industry reports that need to be perfect bound and drop shipped. They don't need to (and shouldn't) go through the traditional book distribution channel or be sold through public channels. I am trying to find a POD service where I can place (or have the client place) orders from 1-100 or so books at a time and have them drop shipped. There is no price per book, so no royalty. I guess what I am saying is I need print-on-demand rather than publish-on-demand. Any ideas? Thanks.

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

18/02/2020 – 10:14

That's a bit complex. You can get a small private run from a local short-run printer, but you're unlikely to find services that will give you a decent per-unit price if you were to order 10 copies (or even 100). I read this from a few years ago, which might help: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/short-run-printers-vs-print-on-demand/

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