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Examining Print on Demand Printers: Size, Paper and Pricing
29 June 2009
I'm in search for a new Print-On-Demand printer as I've changed my business model a bit and I need a different printer. Looking at the projects that I'll be publishing over the next 2 years, they will all be square bound books of more than 70 pages and they all fall into 3 size ranges

LETTER : 8.5" x 11" & 134 pages
SQUARE : 8" x 8" & 84 pages
LANDSCAPE : 8" x 6" & 72 pages

I really only want to deal with one printer for all my projects, so I need a printer that will be able print all these sizes. After scrounging around, I managed to find 4 printers that met my need. These are the usually suspects (Lulu, Ka-Blam, and Comixpress) plus a new find that I came across from a webcomics.com post (360 Digital Books).

All the 4 were able to meet my size requirements within reason. Lulu's square size was 7.5" x 7.5" or 8.5" x 8.5" (for this I chose the 8.5" size) and Landspace is 9" x 7". ComixPress and Ka-Blam offer a maximum size of 8" x 10". 360 Digital was the only place that could match all the sizes as I desired.

Lulu uses 2 types of paper for interiors, publisher grade and standard. Publisher grade is a 50# white text stock. Standard varies based upon size and binding. For square (7.5"), it's 60# cream text stock and for 8.5" it's 60# white text. For Letter and landscape, it's 60# white text. The cream paper at 7.5" is why I opted to use the larger 8.5" square with Lulu. Covers are 100# laminated cardstock.

Ka-Blam uses 50# bright paper for interiors and 80# glossy cardstock cover.

ComixPress uses 50# paper for interiors and index stock.

360 Digital offers more variety in paper stocks for interior and covers. For my quotes, I chose 60# white interior and 12pt C1S. These are thicker than the stocks offered by the usual suspects, but these are my choices with given a preference.

With all this information, I began to price the different options. For pricing, I'm only interested in the unit cost. I figure the other costs as the cost of doing business. However, note that ComixPress and 360 Digital have additional one time set-up costs. Since I plan to keep these books in with the chosen printer, I amortize these additional costs across the entire print run.

With the letter size, 360 Digital had the best price at $4.89 followed by ComixPress ($5.53), Lulu (publisher grade) at $5.91 and Ka-Blam ($6.90).

With the landscape size, 360 Digital had the best price at $3.59 followed by ComixPress ($4.63),Ka-Blam ($5.34), and Lulu (8.5"x 8.5") at $7.18.

With the square size, 360 Digital had the best price at $3.27 followed by ComixPress ($4.42),Ka-Blam ($4.97), and Lulu (9"x 7") at $5.94.

Overall, the unit prices for ComixPress and 360 Digital are the best, however remember they have extra set-up fees. ComixPress fee starts at $25, so if your print run is ony 25 copies that adds and additional $1 to each unit. 360 Digital fees are much more starting at about $120.

For me, it's more about quality and service than price. I plan to sell these books myself, so any benefit of having that the usual suspects gain for having a storefront is lost on me. Time between order and shipping as well as customer service is important to me, so that really nixes ComixPress and Ka-Blam which I've had customer service problems with in the past.

Right now, even with the large fee, I'm leaning towards 360 Digital. These books are $10-$15 books, so selling out of an initial print run of 25 at full retail would pay for the entire printing costs (including fees).

I've seen sample printing from all the printers, except for 360 Digital, so as of right now, i'm waiting for printing samples for 360 Digital.

TAGS : POD, printing, SPLJ

posted 7 November 2009 by ghettoManga
So how did the printing go for you? I'm really interested, especially based on the price differences. I have printed with Lulu and Ka-blam, and for what I'd like to do, want to try other printers and see if they are better.

posted 17 November 2009 by Jamal Walton
I've seen perfect bound books from all the printers. 360 Digital is a bit better in overall quality.

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