Print on Demand done wrong

17 December 2013 10:38

As I’m sure many of you are aware, the paperback versions of my books can be easily found on Amazon and Lulu. Lulu has been my print on demand company of choice for some time, and while they are absolutely horrid at creating hardcovers, their paperbacks are of excellent quality, at a decent price.

A while ago, Bol.com, the biggest Dutch e-store, announced their partnership with Print on Demand company Brave New Books (which I will refer to as BNB), giving us authors the ability to self-publish our books and have them available on Bol.com. I was a bit skeptical at first: their terms of service had a few vague clauses with regards to shared rights, but after a brief discussion with their legal department they removed the offending clauses, making their terms pretty much standard for a POD company.

The process of publishing a book through BNB is comparable to Lulu, if a bit less smooth. Especially using a fully custom cover is a bit involved, as you have to manually disable all the other "standard elements" they add to a cover (like a title, author name, etcetera). Adding an ISBN is also a bit more involved - BNB charges 12.50 and requires you to check them out one at a time, Lulu simply offers free ISBNs.

The most jarring difference however, is pricing. BNB is horribly expensive. The primary reason for this seems to be an extra charge they add to each book for "using their platform". For Hunter’s Chosen, the platform cost exceeds the actual printing cost, which means I cannot price the book below 20 without sacrificing my own profit margin. To compare: the Amazon edition costs 13.95 (which includes a free e-book), and the Lulu edition costs 10.46, and I still make a profit comparable to e-book sales on both. Granted, Brave New Books has slightly higher paper quality than Lulu, but this is already part of the printing cost.

As such, I have the following recommendations for readers and writers:

  • Readers - If you want a paperback version of my books, get it at Lulu or Amazon. Even with the higher shipping costs you’ll save money
  • Writers - Don’t bother with BNB unless you want to be able to say you’re available on Bol.com at a horribly inflated price