Publishing On Demand

Free Comparison Chart

This comparison chart lets you compare the options between the FREE self publishing, publish on demand systems available on the web for paperback books. I have used every system shown on this list quite thoroughly - I have self published over 300 books. I provide full write-ups on this site about how they work and the quality they provide.

Each publishing house is going to have a base price which it costs them to make a book. The paper and ink is not free, after all. When you set your sale price, you set it higher than that base price so that their costs are covered. You as the author make a share of the profit. You get to set the price your book sells for.

For my test book I created a paperback book which was 6x9 in size (a standard size) and 200 pages long. It has black and white insides and a color cover. Note that the final sale price assumes you will ONLY be selling it in this one system. The moment you start turning on "extended distribution" to allow sales to other systems, the prices always escalate. We'll talk about why later on in these pages.

PublisherSize OptionsBase ChargePer PageYour Share of ProfitSales price to make $1 profit
CreateSpace (Amazon) 5x8
$4.062 cents80%$5.32
Lulu 4.25x6.88
$5.252 cents80%$6.60

My chart tries to compare "standard books" to make this as easy as possible. These prices are for standard black and white insides with full color cover outsides.

Size options are given in inches. Standard little paperbacks - the size most people read, and you find in bookstores and grocery stores - are about 5.25" x 8". Prices listed are all "perfect bound" books - i.e. normal binding you get in normal books (as compared to say ring binding like on some cookbooks).

"Your Share" means - if you set the price higher than the base price in order to make a profit - how much of that you get to keep. So if the book costs $10 to make, and you set the selling price at $12, that is a $2 profit. CreateSpace and Lulu both let you keep 80% of that, or $1.60.

I try to show that by showing an example. If you had a standard 200 page perfect bound book, I list how much you'd have to charge the public for each book, in order to cover the publishing costs plus earn $1 in profit for yourself from the sale.

You can always go to one of these company's sites to get specific information if you want a more complex item - i.e. a full color book with spiral binding, for your cookbook.

All of these websites provide online price calculators. You put in the book size and page count you want and it tells you the base price. They no longer tell you the per-page or other component information, probably assuming that is just too complicated for most people to figure out.

In the end, what really matters is the system most people out there already use. There is a huge "hurdle to buy" if someone has to set up an entirely new account in a new system just to buy one book. For that reason, I highly recommend authors go with CreateSpace which is part of Amazon. 99.99% of readers will already have an Amazon account and buying there will be click-and-done.

I'll note that this comparison chart used to be much, much larger. It is just amazing (and a bit scary) how many companies have folded or given up under the onslaught of Amazon and Lulu.

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