Saturday, August 18, 2012

CreateSpace versus Lulu for Print-on-Demand Service

I had an individual take me to task, politely, because the only two POD services I ever mention here are CreateSpace and Lightning Source. To be honest, I have never considered Lulu, the other player in the POD industry.

So, I decided to do a quick comparison of Lulu and CreateSpace. Let me say up front Lulu appears to offer some service or options CreateSpace does not, mainly in terms of binding options and books can be converted to ePub eBooks, something CreateSpace will not do considering CS is owned by Amazon who is not going to offer authors a chance to compete with its Kindle platform by offering ePub conversions for the rival Nook.

The first thing I compared was the two websites. Lulu's site is pretty easy to navigate and I was able to find what I was looking for with ease, except for one major item but more on that later. CreateSpace's site is also easy to navigate and is constantly being improved, particularly in the area of ease of use. Let's call this a tie.

Without using Lulu to print a book or provide authors services so I could have a physical copy of a book to compare to one from CreateSpace, the only means I have used to evaluate the two companies in terms of services is price comparison.

The first service I compared was editing. I could only find one editing service listed on the Lulu site. There could be more, but this is what I found: Copy Editing 7,500 words or less for $225. I am not quite sure what to make of that. Is 7,500 words the most Lulu will edit (I doubt it) or is the fee $225 per 7,500 words?

CreateSpace offers several levels of fee based editing so lets compare the mid-level. CreateSpace charges for $160 for 10,000 words for its mid-level package. Much better price and having used this service I can say the editor who worked on my last book did a great job. Score one for CreateSpace.

The second service I compared was the basic interior formatting. Lulu offered a basic level at $299. The same level package from CS was $249. Score one for CreateSpace. 

The most basic cover design (designs done from standard templates) goes to Lulu. Lulu's price is $130 and CS charges $149. Score one for Lulu.

I started to compare entire publishing packages but stopped. Instead I decided to cut to the chase and fine out what the cost per copy to purchase a copy of my own book directly from Lulu. I used Lulu's own online calculator to get an estimate of, as Lulu calls it, "manufacturing cost." The information I fed the calculator was as follows: 200 pages, 8.5 x 11 trim, black and white interior and white paper. The price per copy was a jaw dropping $9.40!

The exact same specifications, for an actual book I have published with CreateSpace, costs me $3.25 per copy to have it printed. Game, set and match for CreateSpace.

As far as I am concerned, there is no further need for comparison. 

Now to be fair, though I am not going to do any further research on the subject, the link that takes you to the calculator is labeled "wholesale pricing calculator." Yet Lulu labels the final price the calculator determines as the manufacturing cost. Nowhere in the equation did it allow me to set a list price from which I could determine what I want to sell the book for wholesale to a niche retailer.