Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quality of Print on Demand

I've been asked numerous times about Lightning Source, the POD printer we chose to print Laura's book. How is the quality? Why did I decide to go with a Print-On-Demand printer? Is it really as good as traditional printing? And why specifically did I choose Lightning Source over other, cheaper, POD printers?

First, I decided to go with Print-on-demand (POD) so I could buy only the number of books I needed at a time. I pay a little more per printed page than the traditional printing process, but I avoid having to store 1000 books in my living room while hoping they sell. Also, by printing only the number of books I need at a time, I save trees by saving paper. None of the books I publish will go to pulp.

Then I looked at the different POD businesses out there. I posted a question on the Publish L listserve, asking which POD company other small publishers prefer. Repeatedly I heard about Lightning Source, aka LSI. I read about the company and initially it looked good, but I needed more information to figure out if LSI was the best choice for Medusa's Muse. I ordered a book from a publishing company I knew used LSI.

When the book arrived, I studied it closely, examining the binding, the quality of the color on the cover, the feel of the paper, and the clarity of the printed word. Were there any places where the text faded or looked darker on a different page? Was the book-trim even? Were any of the pages ragged? Was there anything different about the LSI book from a traditionally printed book? The quality of the book was excellent and I was very happy to see that a POD book is just as professionally manufactured as any other book. Plus,the book I had ordered was a great read (Mouth of the Lion, by Lily Richards).

But when I discovered that LSI is an affiliate of Ingram, one of the biggest book wholesale companies in North America, I decided to definately go with LSI. Having access to Ingram can be difficult when you're an unknown book publisher with only one book in your catologue, so paying a little more to circumnavigate that barrier was worth the expense.

I signed the contract with LSI and set up an account. It was $50.00 for a more prominant list in the Ingram catologue for one month, and then $12.00 for the year. The fee to set up the book file in their system for printing was about $70.00. Each book is about $4.00 to print. Yes, I know I can earn more money if I go with someone cheaper, but the savings to my sanity is worth every penny. The book was available on, Barnes and Noble. com,, and, on launch date without me having to do any extra work. Book stores are happy to carry the book because it's easy for them to get it from Ingram. LSI customer service has been great and the staff has answered all my questions quickly.

If you want to see for yourself what a POD book looks like, order a copy of Laura's book. You can also go to the Casperian website to see more of their titles.

Any more questions, please send me a comment and I'll do my best to answer.

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