Book Printer recommendations

  • I started to put in my contracts for self publishing authors that it was the their responsibility to find a printer. Took a lot of stress off me! My current client is asking for recommendations though. I used a printer in Minneapolis a few years ago for 2 books but wasnt particulary impressed by them, either the printing, or the process for uploading the files. All the other books I've done have been printed in China, but I didn't handle that. She's mentioned IngramSpark. Does anyone have experience with them? Or .... does anyone have any recommendations for US printers?

  • Just to be clear, I've never used them, but this is the scuttlebutt about Ingramspark that I've heard from other writers (not illustrators).

    The main draw is that Ingramspark has better distribution than other print on demand companies. That is, better potential distribution, because there's no guarantee any brick and mortar bookstore will carry a certain book (just as there isn't any guarantee that a traditionally published book will find its way into brick and mortars).

    Ingramspark is one of the more expensive PODs. Their pre-press is also more expensive: you can't just go onto your computer, change something and resubmit. They charge you (I think $50 each time). I can imagine a self publisher weighing having the best version of their book possible against paying $50 for a missing punctuation mark.

    I heard that uploading files is more confusing than KDP or B&N.

    They go up to 70lb paper whereas many PODs only go up to 50 or 60. (Traditional publishers paying for time and materials on offset presses sometimes go up to 80lb for a kid's book.) I don't know if it's a limitation of the POD presses or if offering 80lb doesn't make economic sense, price point-wise.

    There have been complaints about printing consistency...which is a problem of print on demands anyway. The machines are getting better. But, barring a multitude of potential problems, offset is still more consistent (once the presses get the color where you want).

    Ingramspark is one of the few POD companies that can bind hardcover. I totally understand why it's so important to hold a hardcover version of their book in their hands. It's visceral. (Some who can't afford Ingramspark have some copies hardbound by hand).

    At this time, I haven't heard of any PODs who can bind landscape.

  • @RachelArmington Oh, great information! Thank you for taking the time to reply. I'm trying not to get invloved in the decision for the printers my clients use, but I'm not sure there's a choice. For one thing, her book is landscape and she wants a hardback version ... so ... there's that.

  • When I started looking into self publishing I came across which seems like a great option. They print overseas but the reps are based in the US.

  • I just Googled (well, Bing-ed) "print on demand landscape binding," and came up with Lulu. They have limited landscape options and offer 80lb paper. I know they've been around a long time (I'd heard of them before I heard about IngramSpark) but haven't heard much about them in the writer, self publishing community.

    I don't know about their distribution abilities.

  • @RachelArmington wonderful! thank you!

  • @K-Flagg PrintNinja looks great: they even foil stamp and print board books (someone was asking about this the other day).

    They don't seem to handle distribution. If a client had their own Etsy or website though...

  • @Janette is your client a member of SCBWI? They have great resources for self-publishers, including webinars and The Book. SCBWI-Michigan (my regional chapter) has indie advisors (I volunteer as the PB indie advisor) to help self-publishing authors through the process.

    On the printers others have mentioned, I’ve worked with both in the past (just did book design for a client using KDP and Ingram Spark, in fact).

    Ingram Spark — they do print a landscape 11 x 8.5 in hardcover but there are limitations with that trim size. Their printing can be hit or miss — that has to do with a couple factors: print options that have been chosen and they have several printers they work with so there’s no guarantee where your book will be printed and at times quality control is spotty. If your client chooses to go with Ingram Spark, they should choose the premium color option for best color printing, even though it will cost between $8-$9 per book, plus shipping.

    Lulu — I worked with them years ago and don’t recommend them. Granted, they could have improved their printing and customer service, but from what I’ve heard, they’re still sub-par in terms of going the print-on-demand route.

    While I haven’t worked with Print Ninja and haven’t seen samples of their printing quality, I have gotten a quote from them and printing a hardcover book is quite expensive, one of the most expensive per-unit prices for a US-based printer.

    The other thing to mention if your client is going to go the print-on-demand route: it will affect the book’s layout so plan accordingly. Most POD companies require that the last page of the book be kept blank for their use, so if you’re going to print a 32 page book, you would actually upload an interior book file with 31 pages of content. This will prevent any additional blank pages from being added to the book.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. 😂

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