K. Rowe and K. S. Brooks
Hardcover books are seen as a luxury to novel-writers, but to children’s book and picture book authors, they’re seen as a necessity. Until recently, publishing a hardcover was out of reach of indie authors.
Today, we’re going to focus on six manufacturers — some well-known in Indie book circles, some not so well-known. Some of these suppliers offer print-on-demand (POD) services, some don’t. Of course, using a POD printer means you won’t find yourself saddled with dozens (or more) of copies of a book you can’t sell. Who wants to drive around with a trunk full of books?
Sizes, page counts, and minimum quantities vary by supplier. In order to keep things as standard as possible, we asked these publishers to quote the following:
6×9 laminate hard cover (full color), 500 full-color pages- 50# white paper. (for children’s book & picture book authors – and yes, we know that these books aren’t normally this long, but we did this for comparison purposes.)
6×9 laminate hard cover (full color), 500 black & white pages- 50# white paper. (for novelists)
Here’s what we found. To set a baseline, we’re going to present what it would cost to run the full-color books with Createspace (in soft cover). FYI, the highest page count Createspace can run in 6×9 is 480. See the price in the screen capture below:
As you can see, full-color paperback publishing is not Createspace’s strong suit. Now let’s check the other manufacturers.
Signature Book Printing (SBP)
Minimum order: 300
Minimum order: 1
Pearl River China Printing
Min order: 700-1000
Price: $8.25 ea
Is lead-free ink used in printing books? – We never got the answer for this. Barnes & Noble has issues with this in their stores. We were told by a very … um, unfriendly manager at a New Jersey store that they do not accept any books from Indie authors because they are afraid the books are printed in a foreign country with lead inks.
Ingram-Spark (formerly Lightning Source)
Min order: 1 (FYI, the price for 1 or 50 is the same) (POD printer)
Min order: 1 (POD printer)
NOTE: Lulu did not offer full-color interiors in a 6×9 hardcover. We had to go to “picture book” style, and there was really only one size available. Also, note the limitations on the page count. Pricing for that size is above.
Min order: 1 – but yikes! The price for 1 is $371.98. The image below shows the price for 99 copies (if you order 100, they send you 25 free).
Now, for all your novelists out there, here’s the skinny on the black and white interior versions of the above book. Again, to set a baseline, we’re going to present what it would cost to run the black and white books with Createspace (in soft cover). See the price in the screen capture below:
The price for Createspace is the same whether the quantity is 1 or 100. Again, this is a print-on-demand supplier.
Minimum order 1
Minimum quantity 1 – same price for 1 or 100 IngramSpark is a POD printer.
Min order: 1 – but yikes! The price for 1 is $155.98. The image below shows the price for 99 copies (if you order 100, they send you 25 free).
Please keep your eyes open – some of these printers will charge a fee to distribute your book. Make sure the size you choose is considered standard enough for distribution, otherwise your book will not be eligible to be sold in the world’s largest bookstore – Amazon. These are the things you need to take into consideration when making your decision of which supplier to go with.
Don’t be afraid to contact the printers and fire a volley of questions at them. As Indie authors we’re constantly having our books compared to big publishing companies for both quality and value, so it would behoove you to take time and consider which is the best company to make your work look like a million bucks without having to spend that much. In the end, will that hardbound piece of immortality be a legacy you are proud to leave future generations?