It can be worth searching around to find the best print-on-demand book service for your self-published book. Costs, minimum quantities, and print quality can vary markedly between publishers. Also, your location will undoubtedly affect your available options.
While most authors would prefer a major publisher to take on and print large quantities of their books, in reality, this is unlikely to happen for most beginning and niche writers. There is simply not enough demand to warrant large-scale printing and too much risk for traditional publishers. Some indie authors with a small but loyal audience prefer the flexibility of controlling their own publishing. Now that there are print-on-demand (POD) services available, many more authors can see their books in print than previously.
The main advantage of print-on-demand publishing is that you aren't restricted by strict print limits. You don't have massive minimum print quantities that decide whether your book is viable. With many POD publishers, you can pay to print a single copy of a book if that is what you want, and you don't waste money on publishing unwanted books. It also means that you can easily modify a book should you notice a mistake or have an urgent need to change the contents.
In this post, we look at a selection of the best print-on-demand book services. Remember, though, that cheapest is not always best. Sometimes it might be worth paying extra to a POD company with a reputation for a quality product. Also, some of these companies specialize in some book types and genres more than others, so make sure you do your research before committing to a particular print-on-demand book service.
10 Best Print-on-Demand Book Services:
Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is arguably the best-known print-on-demand book service. Being an Amazon service, you can use it to create both paperback books and eBooks and then sell them within the Amazon store. You can't make hardbacks, however. KDP paperback printing is currently only available on Amazon's websites in the US, Europe, and Japan, and it is coming to Australia on May 19.
Amazon has made KDP as simple as possible. It is very much set up for self-publishing, with step-by-step instructions on how to go through the publishing process. You can either create your manuscript yourself before uploading it or use one of KDP's templates.
Entering your book details is the first step towards publishing your book. They correlate with what shows up on the Amazon detail page for your book. Kindle automatically links your eBooks and paperbacks.
Although you can use a cover you upload, Amazon also offers a Cover Creator tool for those without a professionally designed cover.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is quick, and you can have your book ready in 24 to 48 hours.
IngramSpark helps you publish both print books (hardback and paperback) and eBooks. They split the self-publishing process into eight steps:
- Book Editing
- Book Design
- Book Metadata
- Joining the Indie Publishing Community
IngramSpark has print facilities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, and they have print channels in China, Germany, India, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and Brazil. They give indie publishers access to the same book distribution channels available to major traditional publishers. They make titles available to 40,000+ retailers, libraries, schools, and eCommerce companies, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Foyles, Waterstones, and more.
IngramSpark charges you $49 to upload a print book, with no additional charge if you also publish it as an eBook. They give you multiple formatting options, including black or white ink, standard or premium color ink, white or crème paper, gloss or matte book covers, laminated cases, jacketed laminated cases, different trim sizes, and different kinds of binding.
BookBaby offers a one-stop shop for all your book printing needs. They cover everything from printing to marketing services to help you make the most out of your book. BookBaby claims to have the largest distribution network to help you get your book out into the world.
You can print a single proof copy of your book, full color, any trim size, any binding, at BookBaby for $49. Unlike some other sites, your single-copy proof is identical to the copies you sell.
However, apart from that $49 single-copy option, you need to buy a package if you want to self-publish. These require you to order at least 25 softcover books. Once you have bought your initial package, however, you can order additional books on demand. Any orders go straight to BookBaby who print, bind and package the order. They then organize shipping of your books back to the retailer or wholesaler for fulfillment to their buyers.
Blurb offers to create a range of products using content that you provide: photo books, wall art, trade books, magazines, notebooks, and eBooks. They allow you to print as you go to reduce your self-publishing risk. You can order a single book at a time or buy many of your self-published books upfront for a lower price per unit.
You can sell your self-published book in the Blurb bookshop, on Amazon, or in stores like Barnes & Noble through the Ingram catalog. You can sell one copy at a time and let Blurb fulfill the orders or place a large order and sell your self-published book in person.
Draft2Digital is a relatively new entrant to the print-on-demand market. Although they primarily deal with eBooks, they can also create paperbacks for any books generated through their conversion service, but not pre-formatted epub uploads. They call their print-on-demand (POD) service D2D Print.
You can use one of their free templates to give your paperback a professional look and feel. Alternatively, if you create an eBook at Draft2Digital, you can download a print-ready PDF file that you can use to create a pixel-perfect paperback at any of your favorite print-on-demand services.
D2D Print is still in beta phase currently and does not include hardback or large print at this time. It does, however, provide most of the usual options, such as trim sizes, matte or glossy finish, and cream or white paper. It includes a cover converter tool, which gives you a print-ready version of your eBook cover. Physical bookstores can order copies of your books to place on their shelves, and you can sell online through stores like Amazon.
Lulu provides a range of options to publish, print, connect, and sell various products. You can use it to create books with over 3,000 possible formats, colors, and size combinations. You can use Lulu to create hardbacks, softbacks, photo books, comic books, magazines, yearbooks, eBooks, and even calendars. Lulu book sizes range from 108 x 175mm pocketbook to 297 x 210mm landscape A4 size, perfect for photo books or art books.
Lulu includes a pricing calculator to determine the cost of your print-on-demand job. You begin by selecting a product type, and then you add various options such as book size, interior color, paper type, binding type, and cover finish.
If you believe you have sufficient demand to bulk order, rather than ordering each copy on demand, Lulu gives you quantity discounts for as little as 100 books. An order of even two books will save on the transportation cost per book.
Trafford Publishing offers a variety of publishing packages and services. While you can print-on-demand at Trafford, you must first purchase a package, the cheapest of which is $699. They split their packages into:
- Black and white packages that feature a full-color cover, greyscale interior, perfect binding, and much more
- Full-color packages ideal for children's books to cookbooks, graphic novels to family photo albums
- Children's packages to suit your children's book's publishing goals
- Chapters Indigo Package for aspiring authors in Canada looking to publish a top-notch book
Trafford has been offering on-demand book publishing services since 1995. They have served more than 17,000 writers from over 120 countries.
Matador describes themselves as the UK's most widely recommended self-publishing service. Matador is part of Troubador Publishing Ltd and offers a wide range of services aimed at publishing, marketing, and distributing books and eBooks, both via print-on-demand and traditional bookshop distribution.
Unlike most other companies offering self-publishing services, Matador states that it will only take on books they feel are good from a content perspective. They turn down approximately 25% of the fiction and poetry books people ask them to publish. They look for both the quality of content and presentation.
Acutrack is an eCommerce fulfillment company that specializes in publishing books and media-on-demand. They see book fulfillment as a five-step process:
- You upload the content
- Acutrack's prepress team works with you to finalize the design and layout
- They print based on your requirements
- They seamlessly integrate with your shopping cart and download orders
- They send your books and send out tracking info to your customer
You can select from digital printing for runs from one to 1000 copies, selecting from toner or inkjet-based printing. If you want more than 1000 copies of your book, it becomes economical to use offset printing. You can choose from numerous trim sizes, formats, and other print options.
10. Diggy POD
Diggy POD has been helping self-publishing authors get their books published for 20 years. They print any genre. You do need to print at least 24 copies in an order, however. If you are based in the continental USA, Diggy POD gives you free shipping for orders of over 100.
They include a pricing calculator on their website. Their pricing includes printing your book with a full-color cover on 10pt, coated one-sided cover stock with gloss lamination, and other services you specify with your quote. They also offer free book spine creation as an additional service.