Ever since I published my first book, I’ve used Print-on-Demand publishers, starting with iUniverse, and then Lulu.com. For those not familiar with POD, how this works is you upload a digital image of your book and your cover to a publisher, then they zap it to Ingram, who puts your info in a database so Amazon and other booksellers who use Ingram as a wholesaler list your book. When someone orders a copy, Ingram feeds your PDFs into a giant machine that then spits out a perfectly bound copy of the book in a couple of minutes, and sends it off to the customer.
POD is great because you’re printing one book at a time, and not sitting on thousands of copies that you had to pay for with thousands of dollars up front. The downside is that the per-book cost is higher, and there’s a huge war on about whether or not POD is “real” publishing, or whether it’s a vanity press method, which is a dirty word to some people in the writing community. Yes, a seven-figure book deal with Random House will get your book out there and make you money and pump your ego more than a book published on iUniverse that only seven people buy. But to say that only commercially viable writing deserves to be put to paper is bullshit. It’s the reason I started doing Paragraph Line.
My big problem with POD is that every publisher out there is using Ingram’s POD arm to fulfill books, and then adding a variety of value-add services on top of this. All of them bundle different things together to make life easier for first-time authors, and pass the costs on in the form of set-up fees and publishing packages. Some of this is good if you are doing one book and don’t know much about computers; upload your Word document, and have someone else design your cover, format your text, and print you matching business cards and postcards. But I lay out my own books, design my own covers, and would rather deal with the details myself, instead of being stuck with however the publisher does it. And I want cheaper books.
To that end, here’s the big announcement: Paragraph Line Books has switched to using Lightning Source, the Ingram POD division, for book printing and fulfillment. This basically means we’ll be cutting out the middleman, and going direct to LSI with our books. The books will be the same exact quality as the current books we publish on lulu.com – in fact, they will be coming from the same place. And they will still be available from Amazon and the other places. The big difference is that our wholesale cost will be half as cheap or more, which means lower prices and more money to reinvest in new titles and authors, improvements to books, better artwork, and more. And review copies won’t cost us as much, so we will hopefully send out more.
Another big plus is that with Lulu, we were limited on what sizes of books we could distribute to Amazon and others, which meant all of our books were 6×9″. Now, there will be more options, including a 5×8″ book, which I really want to use for a future project. And did I mention the books will be cheaper? I am really psyched about that.
This change will only affect any future book releases, with the first title probably being Air in the Paragraph Line #13. Yes, there will be a new issue soon. And yes, we’re planning on other books in the future. More on that later. Until then, all of the prior books will be on lulu. When I’m certain that the process is flawless, I will be moving old titles from lulu, but the priority will be new titles.
And that reminds me, we’re always looking for reviewers. If you have a blog or write for a book review site, please get in touch – I would love to send you some stuff to read and review!
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