A colleague in the Association of Personal Historians, Sarah White, has kindly given me permission to reprint her excellent article on print-on-demand websites. I’m adding another site that I used to produce a book for my mother’s ninetieth birthday. Memory Press offers outstanding customer service and an excellent product. While I haven’t used the other sites, I can recommend Memory Press without hesitation. For more information click here.
For a writing class this fall I researched print-on-demand websites, in order to make recommendations to my students. I had in mind users with limited technical sophistication who had a goal of creating books for family and friends, not necessarily for sale on the open market. After about 6 hours of surfing the different sites, here are my findings:
- Lulu.com has the widest range of page size/binding options and the best prices if you’re comfortable producing your own PDF page files to upload.
- Blurb.com was close on price but a bit more than Lulu. Blurb’s point of difference is a nice interface for converting a blog to a book. It has fewer page size/binding options than Lulu.
- CreateSpace.com (a subset of Amazon, formerly known as BookSurge) had lower pricing but is intended for people who want to sell to the general market. Starting a job required setting yourself up as a publisher and pages of information to fill out. Prices are a good deal lower than Lulu; publishing wholesale as opposed to retail, essentially.
- Bookemon.com was my best discovery. It has a good range of page size/binding options, and a really nifty online page building tool. It’s a hybrid that allows you to upload files and pictures and do layout online. But it also allows you to upload formatted documents and you can blend both approaches. Pricing is in line with Lulu and Blurb.
In terms of cost, any of these sites were considerably cheaper than going with a FedEx Print Online or Office Depot Print Online option. All the above information will no doubt change over time, but I hope this comparison is useful to you.
Linda Coffin, another APH member, has added this useful postscript.
One quick addition to Sarah’s fine comments: Whichever online option you choose, think carefully about how you might want to use the book in the future. If you choose an online layout option like Blurb, for instance, then any time you want to reprint or update your book you will have to go back to that service again. If Blurb has gone out of business in the meantime, you will have to start from scratch. On the other hand, creating your own PDF file and uploading it (to a service like Lulu, for instance) gives you the option to revise it easily and have it printed in a different place the second time around if you wish.
Photo by Rob Overcash
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