One of the biggest decisions new self-publishers have to make about print books is whether, how, and where to print their books. While offset printing is less expensive, the publisher then becomes responsible for storing books and fulfilling orders. Printing in bulk (most offset print jobs don’t become cost-effective until about 500 copies are printed) usually works best if the publisher or author does a lot of in-person selling. Most self-publishers are better off using a print-on-demand (POD) digital printer.
Most POD printers will provide you with 25 or more copies. Certain POD printers will print one copy at a time as books are sold.
There are three POD printers I recommend to both print the book and handle book sales fulfillment: CreateSpace, IngramSpark, Lightning Source.
Pros: No setup costs. No costs to upload revised files. No annual catalog fee. Amazon availability will be “In Stock.”
Cons: Independent bookstores may refuse to order from them. E-book distribution is a separate service. Returns aren’t permitted.
Pros: Automatic entry to Ingram catalog; CoreSource distribution available for e-books. Publisher may opt to accept returns.
Cons: Setup fee of $49 per book. Annual catalog fee of $12 per book. Fee of $25 to upload revised files. Amazon availability may be “Usually ships within 2 to 3 weeks.”
Lightning Source, www.lightningsource.com
Pros: Automatic entry to Ingram catalog; CoreSource distribution available for e-books. Ability to set discount as low as 20%. Publisher may opt to accept returns.
Cons: Setup fee of $75 per book. Annual catalog fee of $12 per book. Fee of $40 to upload revised files. Amazon availability may be “Usually ships within 2 to 3 weeks.”
Note: Ingram is the major book wholesaler. CoreSource e-book distribution makes e-books available to more than 150 online bookstores.