Comparison of Print on Demand Cookbook Printers

Hey there! In this video, we're going to be looking at a few of the different options you have for print on demand companies, some of the benefits and some of the negatives of each one. So, let's get started.

As I mentioned in the overview, the advent of print on demand companies has made it so much easier for self publishing. It makes it easy on food bloggers and on traditional authors because you don't need inventory, you don't need to buy books ahead of time and it's a lot less expensive.

It's great having someone to do all the fulfillment so you don't have to worry about shipping books on a daily basis. The big two companies are IngramSpark and Amazon KDP. We're going to dive into both of those and then we'll touch on Blurb and a few other small ones. 

Amazon KDP (Formerly CreateSpace)

The number one is probably Amazon KDP. It was formerly called CreateSpace and is something that I've used to publish a lot of my cookbooks.

They are owned by Amazon, which is a lot more apparent since they changed their name to Amazon KDP than it was before. But it's Amazon's publishing platform that allows people to put out Kindle books as well as print books.

Works Great with Amazon

Probably the biggest advantage of Amazon KDP is that it is easy to use with Amazon. Their systems work together pretty seamlessly. And it's very painless to get your book to show up on Amazon and be ready for shipping whenever it's needed.

However, I can't say that for all the other print on demand companies.

Less Options Than Other Printers

Amazon KDP has a few less options than IngramSpark does, and especially something like Blurb, which does a lot more for photo books. But it does have enough options for most people, especially if you're just trying to make money or if you're trying to spread an idea.

However, if you're trying to do a marketing cookbook that's really, really unique then you might need to look at something not print on demand. But you still might want to put out a print on demand version as well, that you can sell to the general public.

So, Amazon KDP gives you enough options to be able to put out a good cookbook in a lot of different sizes and a lot of different varieties. It's a little bit more expensive to use Amazon KDP than it is IngramSpark, especially for color books, but it is a pretty seamless process.

It also works well with a lot of Kindle conversions if you are interested in doing that.

IngramSpark

The second one I wanted to touch on is IngramSpark. Ingram is one of the largest book distributors in the world and they work with a lot of publishers and retailers, including Amazon.

IngramSpark is their self publishing arm that similarly to Amazon KDP allows people to upload books that are going to show up generally on Amazon and could be sold there.

Wider Variety of Options

They have a wider variety of options than Amazon KDP does. They are also slightly less expensive. You're probably looking at about 30% more profit per book sold if you use Ingram.

Doesn't Work Great with Amazon...At First

However, it comes with a price. And that price is trying to get Ingram to work with Amazon. One of the things I run into every time I publish a cookbook through IngramSpark is when it shows up on Amazon.

Amazon says it's out of stock and will take two to three months to ship. Ingram says they are ready to ship and that they are in stock. The two of them just don't communicate well with each other.

I found a few ways around it such as buying a cookbook right away when it comes out and then emailing both of them to say that the other one is blaming it on them. It usually gets one of them to figure out what switch they need to flip to get it to actually communicate with each other.

But it's a little bit of a hassle to try to get the two of them to play nice in the sandbox.

Bad Customer Service

Ingram's customer support is also “very poor” is a good way to say it.

Generally, they are fine to answer questions but there's never any acknowledgement they actually received your question or they're working on it. So, you just kind of send an email into the ether and hope someone's working on it. And you hear back from them two days to two weeks later with some sort of response that may or may not be helpful.

It's something I've really struggled with.  So I haven't been very pleased with my interactions with their customer support team.

Better Expanded Distribution

One of the big benefits to IngramSpark is they work with a lot better expanded distribution than Amazon does. It is very, very hard to get into brick-and-mortar bookstores, but if that's a goal then you're going to have a lot better chance for success using Ingram than you are Amazon. 

Which One to Pick

So those are the big two print on demand companies. A lot of people go with one of them.

I recommend starting with Amazon KDP because it's a little bit easier to traverse, a little more seamless, and a little less painful. You might not be maximizing your profit as much, but it's definitely easier to get started with and I always recommend starting small.

Then you can get into more and more complexity as you put out your second and third and 20th book.

Other Options

But there are a few other options out there that do very niche things when it comes to cookbook publishing. One is Blurb. Blurb does a lot of photo heavy books. They call them photo books.

So if you really need a fancy design or something very unique, you can go through Blurb. However, you still have to then go through IngramSpark to get it on Amazon, which is something a lot of us want.

But if you're looking at doing more of a marketing style book and you're not really concerned with selling to the general public, then Blurb is something you might want to look at.

I list a few more companies that you can generally work with below. You can check them out and see if one works for you. But this course does focus on Amazon KDP and I recommend it as the first print on demand company you use.

Next up, I'm going to take you through the process of actually submitting your book to Amazon KDP. While the process isn't that hard, it can be confusing. So we're going to look at that next.

Other Companies

LuLu

Lulu is an established (founded in 2002) and well respected company with a strong reputation. They have offices in the USA, Canada, UK and India. They are known for their software tools which allow authors to create a book in a very short amount of time. You can create a book essentially for free if you choose not to use any of the variety of services they have available. Their books are more expensive than CreateSpace but most believe their color offerings are of higher quality.

Blurb

Blurb is a very unique publisher in that it has the ability to quickly produce very high quality colored "Photo" books. If you'd like to create a cookbook with breathtaking photos, this would be the publisher to use. Unfortunately, the high quality will cost you dearly as the printing costs are much higher than other companies. Blurb has recently partnered with Ingram to provide both worldwide distribution as well as more competitively priced color books, Blurb refers to them as "Trade Books", using Lightning Source printing capabilities. However, they are still more expensive than either IngramSpark or Amazon KDP.

Mill City Press

Mill City Press is a lesser-known publisher but they do offer the full component of needed services for self publishers. Authors do get to keep 100% of the royalties after printing costs.

Buyer Beware

Recently there are a lot of companies rushing in to take advantage of authors during this surge in self-publishing. Some of them are providing valuable services to authors. Unfortunately, there are quite a few that have left authors disappointed, discouraged and angry. So we recommend that you examine a potential publisher with a high degree of due diligence to be sure that you're going to get everything that you expect.

There are a couple specific areas that you will want to pay particular attention to. Perhaps the area that receives the most negative feedback is the quality of the services that are provided by some of these publishing companies. On average it appears that the services are more expensive and of lower quality than you can probably find on websites such as such as Elance and Upwork (Formerly Odesk).

There also seems to be considerable consternation around the contracts and practices provided by some of these publishers that appear to be misleading at best. Far and away the company that receives the most negative feedback is Author Solutions, which is the parent company of AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, Trafford, Palibrio, WordCray, FuseFrame, PitchFest, and Booktango. In fact they are facing two class action suits filed in May 2013 and April 2015. For numerous years authors have been complaining about poor quality products, poor quality customer service, up selling pressure and trouble with accurately reporting and paying royalties. We would strongly suggest avoiding all of these publishers.

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