CreateSpace vs. Lulu
While pursuing my self-publishing adventures, I have done some research into the various options for getting a book professionally printed. A whirlwind of creative destruction is just revving up to tear through publishing, so it's a fun time to have a manuscript in hand.
Publish-on-demand is a big driver of these changes. Instead of keeping stacks and stack of books in a warehouse, ready to ship out to bookstores, a manufacturer just prints off a single book when an order comes in. This works great for virtual bookstores like Amazon. On the internet, two of the biggest players are Lulu and CreateSpace (a subsidiary of Amazon). I've used both services, so this post will be an effort to compare the two.
|Cost||If you want to print more than about three books, CreateSpace is the hands-down winner. The wholesale cost for my book (~250 pages) is $4.15 at CreateSpace, and $9.50 at Lulu. You can get volume breaks at Lulu, but the quotes they gave me were not impressive.||X|
|Time||Lulu's turnaround time is much better than CreateSpace's. CreateSpace has an approval process that takes at least a day. Plus shipping is slower.||X|
|Shipping||Lulu seems to print and ship a little faster. Their shipping costs are much lower (they offer a Media Mail option). However, once a CreateSpace book is in the Amazon system, you can take advantage of free shipping and Amazon Prime. I'll give them both a nod here.||X||X|
|Revisions||Because CreateSpace requires a proof for every revision, Lulu is more practical if you are rev'ing something a lot. Plus the high shipping means at least $10 for every turn of the crank at CreateSpace.||X|
|Amazon||Since CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, it's free to get an ISBN and get your book into the Amazon system. Also, as I said before, all of Amazon's great shipping deals apply. This is an astonishing thing - to be able to get a book into the greatest book distrubtion system in the world for nothing.||X|
|Distribution||Lulu has other distribution systems that I don't really care about. Consequently, I have not investigated them. Lulu charges $300, though, to get it into Amazon or any other system.||X|
|Profitibility||This is a labor of love for me, so I don't care about the money. But if I did, CreateSpace is a much better deal. For the same retail price, the author keeps a lot more of the dough.||X|
|Quality||This is close, but I would give this one to Lulu. The CreateSpace books are not as uniform, in size or cover registration. It's not a big deal and you would never know unless you had a stack of them in front of you. None of the CreateSpace books have been bad, but I just noticed the minor inconsistencies.||X|
|Cover Options||Lulu offers softcover, hardcover, and spiral bound (great for reports or editor's manuscripts). CreateSpace only has trade paperback.||X|
Bottom line: I am using CreateSpace. I think Lulu would be great for a business user who has lots of really low-volume kinds of books (reports, etc.).