The Forge Forums

General Forge Forums => Independent Publishing => Topic started by: Andy Kitkowski on July 21, 2008, 12:22:31 PM

Title: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on July 21, 2008, 12:22:31 PM
Hey all, so in about a week I'm going to have a PDF file ready to send to POD. I've got two printers that I'm currently inquiring with, but I'd like to hear what others are seeing.

I'm going to be printing up 100 copies of a book that's
Softcover (glossy) full-color/4 color
200 pages (B&W, double-sided)

For those of you who use a solid POD that you would recommend, what would you expect to see for pricing for that order (in "per book" for order of 100)?

I'm looking for some baselines in my price comparison.


Title: Re: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: iago on July 21, 2008, 12:41:53 PM
It's a little hard to quote pricing without, say, being the print on demand provider myself.

Lately I've used the two lightnings, Lightning Press and Lightning Source.

Lightning Press

Lightning Press has a quote form on their site:

I used LP to print Don't Lose Your Mind and I'm pretty happy with the result.  But I had to start with the quote form.  They should get back to you in a few days.  LP definitely has some setup costs that are higher than I've experienced with Lightning Source, but since my book had a lot of greyscale texture work in it and these were the dudes printing Dictionary of Mu, I figured they'd be a good fit, and they were.

My 200 copy, 130-ish page 6x9 Don't Lose Your Mind printing cost $2.9344/unit with Lightning Press ($586.88), and a roughly $160 setup fee.  Shipping was about $65, for an order total of $815.29.  Maybe halve the shipping and do the setups as-is for your estimate comparison ($200) and somewhat less than halve the unit cost to get a 100 copy gig ($300) and then add 50% because your book's about 50% larger on the page count (+$150) and add a little extra for it being a large format book (+$50) and I'd thumbnail them around $700 for your run, but I could be over-estimating by a fair amount -- I don't know what economies of scale they'd hit.  Like I said, use their quote form.

Lightning Source

Lightning Source I've used for some printings of DRYH and SOTC.  During July, they're doing a promotional larger than normal bulk discount pricing plan, but I'm only going to tell you what I'd expect their standard to be, since I'm not sure about the details.  Based on their US pricing schedule that I'm looking at, 100 copies of a 200 page 8.5x11 book ... well, crap. They have a "large paperback" class, but the only page sizes they list are 8.25 x 11 (not 8.5x11), 7x10, and A4 (aka 8.268 x 11.693).  Still, the pricing might be informative:

Setup costs will likely be in the $75-ish range.

Base unit cost $1.30 + 2 cents/page, so $5.30 for a 200 page book.

100 units normally gets a 10% discount, so $4.77.

$477 plus $75 for setup equals $552 before shipping.

Title: Re: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: iago on July 21, 2008, 12:43:56 PM
Actually it's fairly probable I am overestimating Lightning Press by a fair amount, given that when I plug your numbers into Lulu's book cost calculator for a 100 copy run, I get $693.00 before shipping.  I say this because Lulu is consistently the most expensive supplier I've encountered.  But then again, they have no setup costs, and on reprints, I think neither would the above suppliers.

Title: Re: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 21, 2008, 01:31:55 PM
Hi Andy,

Here's a webpage that has saved my bacon a couple of times:  Ind-e-pubs POD list ( compiled by GLB E-Books.

These threads may help with some of the ins-and-outs of finding out the rates. It's better to get an estimate by talking to a rep at the company. I suggest not using the on-line calculators on the company websites except as a very superficial probe, if that.

POD vs. distributors (
A list of POD publishers (
Can anyone wholeheartedly recommend a POD printer for me? (

Best, Ron

Title: Re: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: Valamir on July 21, 2008, 02:24:09 PM
Step 1:  do a google search on "Print Quotes"'ll get about a billion hits, but the first three are so are all you really need.

Step 2: input the details of your job into the quote form.  Ask for quotes for different units (50, 100, 150, 200, 250) to find where the price breaks are for the different printers.

Step 3:  wait 1-3 days and you'll have anywhere from 4-20+ quotes.

Step 4:  Create a matrix of quotes and rank them based on who has the best pricing at the different levels (you might include one publisher who has a great price at 150 but a crap price at 100 to give yourself that option).

Step 5:  Contact (by email) each of the 3-4 you filtered on, ask a few questions (some you already know the answer to, some you don't).  Judge the quality of service by their response.

Step 6:  Pick the best one, and confirm their service by calling them and conversing with an actual rep...if you don't like what you here pick someone else.

Step 7:  Follow their instructions for getting the job done.

We just found Apex using this method whose pricing for the type of book I'm trying to do blows away Publishers Graphics who I used for Uni (because PG gets expensive for anything not on their standard formats).  We'll see how they do once I get the proof. 

Title: Re: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: guildofblades on July 21, 2008, 04:38:41 PM
Our base pricing on that book would be $6.40, though that would be for a book with a final trim of 8.375" x 10.875" (starts with 8.5" x 11" sheets prior to binding and trimming).

At 100 units we have a 5% discount, so actual pricing would be $6.08.

No set up fees. If you opt for a smaller order, our minimum order size begins at 10 units.

Ryan S. Johnson
Guild of Blades Retail Group -
Guild of Blades Publishing Group -
1483 Online -

Title: Re: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: Andy Kitkowski on July 21, 2008, 05:23:45 PM
Thanks, Fred, for the estimates. That's exactly what I needed in my mind-space.

Ron: Solid info, thanks for the links.

Ralph: Yeppers, that's a solid way (I've contacted some local NC/Triangle-area printers as well), what I'm trying to add to the equation is "Must Print Soon, Receive Product in under two weeks".

Ryan: Email incoming.


Title: Re: Shopping around for a POD printer...
Post by: visioNationstudios on July 25, 2008, 08:29:51 PM
The POD printer we use for our books gives us our 436 pager for about 6.08 each.  With your specs, you're looking at no more than about 5.50, and potentially as low as 3.25 each.  I'd recommend taking a peek at them here (

I also know Ryan's company does good work.