Publisher Index
A head to head comparison of major Print On Demand publishers.
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And the Publishers are:

What follows is a side-by-side overview of the publishers' offerings. Unless otherwise indicated, clicking on a publisher's name in this section will take you to a more detailed description of what that publisher has to offer.
2+2=5 means 'something doesn't add up'.

Publisher's name Kind of contract Manuscript Screening Distribution Paperback* Hardcover* Combo* Color* Royalties and discounts
Virtual Bookworm
Non-Exclusive Yes Through their site and online retailers mostly $360.00 $430.00 $590.00 $625.00 Royalties are 50% of net receipts.

Basic discount is 30%, bulk discounts may apply.

Virtual Bookworm gets the top ranking here because it provides a full service package for one of the most competitive fees around while offering a good contract, good royalties, good distribution, a good breakeven point, competitive printing costs and full control over several key aspects of your book, such as retail price and bookstore's discount.

This is a fairly well established company, one that has been around for a while, with a pretty solid reputation and it does not discriminate based on place of residence.**

CreateSpace
Non-Exclusive
2+2=5
No Through their site and online retailers mostly $673.00 Not Available Not Available $803.00 Royalties are calculated as retail price minus a percentage of retail price (this figure ranges from 20%to 60%) minus printing costs.

Authors can purchase copies of their books paying only their printing costs.

While it is theoretically possible to publish using CreatSpace almost for free, in order to be able to put this company in a somewhat equal footing with the full-service providers that make up the bulk of those that are featured in the comparison I have added up the costs their least expensive layout and cover design options, plus their expanded distribution add-on, to come up with the fees that are listed above.

CreateSpace gets the second place in this comparison because, due to the fact that, being a subsidiary of amazon.com, it can offer a deal no other publisher can match when it comes to dollars and cents and the fact that authors who can supply their own ready to print layout and cover can theoretically publish for less than $100.00 doesn't hurt matters either.

On the downside their contract does include an extremely dangerous clause, one that may well be a deal-breaker.**

Booklocker.com
Non-Exclusive Yes Through their site and online retailers mostly $517.00 $517.00 $399.00 add-on $617.00 Royalties are 35% of retail price on direct sales, 15% of retail price on extenal sales.

Discount is 35% of retail price, some bulk discounts may apply.

While their set-up fee is more expensive than that of Virtual Bookworm once cover design (a nominal extra) is added to the mix, and they restrict their services to the residents of a handful of countries, Booklocker gets the third place in this comparison because it provides a full service package for a reasonable fee, with good royalties and good distribution. This one too is a well established company that has been around for a while and has a fairly solid reputation. They now offer DIY option and even a payment plan.**

WingSpan Press
Non-Exclusive No Through online retailers mostly $499.00 $599.00 $699.00 $899.00 (?) Royalties are 20% of retail price.

Author's discount is 50% of retail price.

WingSpan Press gets the fourth place in this comparison because --in spite of the fact that their basic package is far less comprehensive and considerably more expensive than that of Virtual Bookworm, they have a few too many things that are deemed as 'extras' for my liking and they don't offer direct sales channel-- they do represent a reasonably competitve option for those authors looking for a full service publisher that doesn't screen manuscripts.**

AuthorHouse
Non-Exclusive
2+2=5
No Through their site and online retailers mostly $749.00 Not Available $1,299.00 $899.00 Both royalties and author's discount are undisclosed

Back when this information was listed, royalties used to range between 5-20% on external sales and between 5-50% on direct sales.

An expensive set-up fee, combined with a lack of anything remotely resembling useful information combine to make this a company you probably want to avoid.**

This publisher is a subsidiary of Author Solutions
Authors Online
Exclusive
2+2=5
No Through their site and online retailers mostly £750.00 Unknown Unknown £750.00 (?) Royalties are 60% of net receipts.

Authors can purchase copies of their own books paying their printing costs plus 25% of retail price.
Aventine Press
Non-Exclusive No Through online retailers mostly $449.00 Not Available $744.00 Not Available Royalties are 80% of net receipts.

Authors can purchase copies of their book paying their printing costs plus 13% of retail price.
Bookstand Publishing
Non-Exclusive No Through their site and online retailers mostly Between $599.00 and $949.00 Between $499.00 and $799.00 Not Available Between $399.99 and $599.00 30% of retail price on direct sales, 10% of retail price on external sales.

Authors can purchase copies of their books paying the wholesale price (a minimum of 25 copies per order does apply).
Equilibrium Books
Non-Exclusive Yes Through their site AUD $199.00 to $499.00 depending on word count. Not Available Not Available Not Available Royalties are 13.5% of sale price (beware, this is not the same as suggested retail price).

Discount adds up to 40%.
Foremost Press
Non-Exclusive Yes Through their site and online retailers mostly $347.00 Not available (?) Not available (?) Not Available Royalties are 20% of retail price on direct sales and 50% of net receipts on external sales

Discount is 50% of retail price.
Infinity Publishing
Non-Exclusive
2+2=5
No Their site and some online retailers $599.00 $849.00 Unknown $699.00 Royalties are 30% of retail price on direct sales and 15% of wholesale price on external sale (roughly 9% of retail price).

Discount is 40% of retail price plus wholesale 10% royalties.
Inkwater Press
Unknown
2+2=5
Yes Through their site and online retailers mostly. $999.00 Unknown Unknown $1,299.00 Royalties are 50% of net receipts.

Discount is 40% of retail price.
iUniverse
Non-Exclusive
2+2=5
No Through their site and online retailers mostly $899.00 $999.00 $1,649.00 Not Available Royalties are either 10 or 20% of payments received by the publisher.

Basic author discount is 20%, bulk discounts may be available.

An expensive set-up fee, a somewhat expensive retail price combined, low discount, a couple of questionable contract clauses and a bundled eBook publishing package that is far from ideal make this a company you may want to avoid.**

This publisher is a subsidiary of Author Solutions
Llumina Press
Non-Exclusive
2+2=5
Yes Through their site and online retailers mostly $799.00 They mention a $200.00 hardcover extra. It is unclear if this refers to a combo or just to a hardcover. Unknown Royalties are 10% of retail price on external sales and 30% on direct sales.

Discount is 30% of retail price bulk disconts are available.
Lulu Non-Exclusive
2+2=5
No Through their site and online retailers mostly $999.00 $2,999.00(?) $2,999.00 $1,199.00 Royalties are 80% of net receipts.

Authors can purchase copies of their book paying only their printing costs (a word of caution here: their printing costs are more expensive than those of other companies).

While it is theoretically possible to publish using Lulu almost for free, in order to be able to put this company in a somewhat equal footing with the full-service providers that make up the bulk of those that are featured in the comparison I am using their design fees as a starting point.

Outskirts Press Non-Exclusive No Through their site and online retailers mostly $399.00 Unknown Unknown $1,099.00 Royalties are determined by the author by choosing an amount on top of a base price.

Authors can purchase copies of their book paying only the base price.
Trafford
Non-Exclusive
2+2=5
No Through their site and online retailers mostly $649.00 Unknown $1,349.00 $649.00 Royalties are 20% of paymets received by the publisher.

Authors' discount is unknown.

An expensive set-up fee, combined with a few too many unknown factors, low royalties, a few dubious contract clauses and a bundled eBook publishing package that is far from favorable make this a company you may want to avoid.**

This publisher is a subsidiary of Author Solutions
Universal Publishers
Exclusive
2+2=5
Yes Through their site and online retailers mostly Used to be $495.00, currently unlisted Not Available Not Available Not Available Royalties are 20% of retail price on external sales and 40% on direct sales. No royalties are paid on the first three copies sold in each quarter.

Discount is 40% of retail price, bulk discounts may apply.
Wheatmark
While this publisher remains active all specifics concerning their services have been taken off-line therefore it is no longer possible for me to offer a detailed review of their services (the link leads directly to their site).

At first glance I would say that the fact that they adscribe a $47.00 value to the free e-version of their 32 page long guide on how to choose a publisher does not bode well in terms of either honesty or affordability.

As usual, by requesting their publishing guide you are probably exposing yourself to a lifetime of spam (in the past couple of weeks I have averaged a message a day, all of them with a neat little sig line about how much they hate spam), so, if you are interested, I would recommend using a disposable address.
Winepress Publishing
Unknown
2+2=5
Yes Through their site and online retailers mostly $2,800.00 Unknown Unknown Unknown They claim that their royalties are '100% of net reciepts' but their printing costs are artificially inflated (in the real world this '100%' adds up to something like like 7% of retail price of a book sold through amazon).

Discount is roughly 62% of retail price.

A ridiculously expensive set-up fee, combined with the way in which they claim that their royalties are '100% of net receipts' while inflating their 'printing costs' smacks of dishonesty. In the real world this '100%' translates into one of the lowest figure of the whole comparison (7% of retail price on external sales, and that is with a less than competitive retail price that is in itself liable to hurt your sales). The fact that their contract is not available online may also serve to mask some additional problems. Over all I would say that this is a publisher to avoid.**

This publisher has been deleted. Click here for a more detailed explanation as to why.

Xlibris Non-Exclusive No Through their site and online retailers mostly $499.00 Not Available $1,249.00 $499.00 Royalties are 10% of retail price on external sales, 25% of retail price on direct sales.

Basic discount is (or used to be) 40% on paperbacks and 35% on hardcovers.
This publisher is a subsidiary of Author Solutions
Xulon Press
Non-exclusive No, but this is a specialized publisher. Through online retailers mostly $1,699.00 Unknown Unknown Unknown Royalties are 100% of net recipts on external sales and 75% of net receipts on direct sales (beware: that 75% of net receipts is highly misleading as there is a rather steep 'admin fee' tacked on top of that).

Discount is 35% of retail price.

A fee of well over $1,500.00, a dishonest way of figuring out your royalties, a less than ideal author's discount and the fact that things as basic as direct distribution are billed as 'extras' combine to make this publisher a less than appealing option.**

What you see above is a side-by-side overview of the publishers' offerings. Unless otherwise indicated, clicking on a publisher's name in this section will take you to a more detailed description of what that publisher has to offer.
2+2=5 means 'something doesn't add up'.

A few words, and links, concerning eBook Publishing

Even though these days most POD publishers offer eBook publishing as an option, you may be better off considering both of these things separately... and as a result you may also want to steer clear of those publishers that bundle their eBook services with their publishing packages.

There are two main reasons for this. The first one is that both kinds of publishing are different and call for different business models. The second one is that self-publishing an electronic version is a lot easier than self-publishing a printed one and even where going at it completely alone is not an option (as is the case with Apple's iBookstore), there are outfits out there that are geared specifically towards this end and offer you what are in essence much better deals.

What follows is a small collection of links you may find useful when it comes to getting your eBook out into the big bad world... and keep in mind that some of these service providers allow you to mix-n-match, so you can combine them to get the best results.

On the legal (down)side of things, beware of the fact that most of the services listed below reserve the right to revise the terms of their user agreements whenever and however they see fit and that does represent problem.

ePublisher Fees & contract General description
Smashwords
Free & non-exclusive Royalties are 85% of net receipts and they provide access not only to their store but also to several eBookstores that do not deal will independent authors (such as Apple's iBookstore and Sony's ReaderStore).

You get to pick and choose with which retailers you want them to list your book.

They have a DIY conversion engine.

Free content is allowed, though not necessarily available for distribution beyond their site. No DRM.
Scribd
Free & non-exclusive Royalties are 80% of net receipts minus a $0.25/$0.40 transaction fee (this depends on whether or not DRM is enabled).

Scribd is a massive archive that deals mostly with traditional formats (.PDF, .DOC, etc). Works available for direct sale enjoy a greater measure of copyright protection when it comes to their site. This is important considering that Scribd is also a major source of unauthorized downloads.

Sales restricted to the US.

Free content is allowed. Optional DRM.
Barnes & Noble's Pub-It!
Free & non-exclusive Royalties are either 40% or 65% of retail price depending on the book's price (the 65% option is only available for books with a retail price between $2.99 and $9.99).

You can upload an epub file or use their conversion tool (you do have the ability to preview it).

Free content is not allowed. Minimum retail price is $0.99. Optional DRM.
Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing
Free & non-exclusive Royalties are either 35% or 70% of retail price depending on the book's price and where it is purchased (the 70% option is only available for books sold to readers in a few countries and with a retail price between $2.99 and $9.99). By selecting the 70% option you also relinquish some additional rights in terms of opting out of some 'features'. A delivery fee of $0.15 per megabyte does apply.

You upload your content and their system converts it automatically for you (you do have the ability to preview it).

Free content is not allowed. Minimum retail price is $0.99. Optional DRM.
Your own site
Free & non-exclusive Creating an eBook (whether in epub, mobi or PDF format) is fairly easy. It can be done in a matter of minutes using a free program such as Calibre and afterwards you are free to sell it directly keeping 100% of the proceeds, though it requires a higher level of technical know-how, not to mention that attracting an audience and competing with large retailers can be a challenge.

A word of caution here: you cannot use your site to distribute an eBook created using any of the services listed above (with the relative exception of Publish Green). This option applies only to an eBook you've created on your own.
eBookIt $149.99 fee
Non-exclusive contract (?).
Royalties are 85% of net receipts. They will list your book with most major retailers (apparently you can't pick and choose).

They will convert your book for you.

They don't have a bookstore of their own. Free content is not allowed. No DRM(?)
Fast Pencil $9.99 or $149.99 fee
Non-exclusive contract.
Fee depends on whether or not you want external distribution, royalties are 80% of net receipts. If you opt for external distribution they will list your book with most major retailers (apparently you can't pick and choose).

They have a DIY conversion engine. They also offer a $999.00 full-blown e-publishing package.

Free content is not allowed (?). No DRM(?)
Lulu Free & non-exclusive (?) Royalties are 80% of net receipts and they provide access not only to their store but also to several eBookstores that do not deal will independent authors (such as Apple's iBookstore).

They offer a conversion service with a fee ranging from $99.00 and $299.00 depending on your page count.

Free content is not allowed. Optional DRM. Their site is far from intuitive.
Publish Green $699.00 or $999.00 fee
Non-exclusive contract
Their $699.00 package offers limited distribution (amazon and Apple only) and royalties of 90% of net receipts. Their $999.00 package offers global distribution and 100% royalties. They also offer a $399.00 package that features no distribution whatsoever.

They will format your book for you by hand.

Free content not allowed (except in their $399.00 package). DRM unknown.
The Graveyard, or, This Publisher Is No More
1st Books Library
This publisher has renamed itself. It is now 'AuthorHouse'.
Action Tales This publisher has renamed itself. It is now 'ForemostPress'.
Biblio Books This publisher is now out of business and its site is no longer available.
Bookbooters As of July 2003 this company has suspended its publishing activities.
BookPublisher This publisher has renamed itself. It is now 'Wheatmark'.
BookSurge Publishing This publisher has renamed itself... countless times. It began as 'Great Unpublished', then became 'Global Book Publisher' after that it was 'BookSurge Publishing' and it is now CreateSpace'.
Cork Hill Press This publisher is now out of business and its site is no longer available.
eBookstand This publisher has renamed itself. It is now 'Bookstand Publishing'.
First Publish This publisher is out of business and has been for a number of years now.
Global Book Publisher This publisher has renamed itself... countless times. It began as 'Great Unpublished', then became 'Global Book Publisher' after that it was 'BookSurge Publishing' and it is now 'CreateSpace'.
Golden Pillar Publishing This publisher seems to be out of business.
Gom Publishing This publisher has been closed to new submissions for a number of years now.
Great Unpublished This publisher has renamed itself... countless times. It began as 'Great Unpublished', then became 'Global Book Publisher' after that it was 'BookSurge Publishing' and it is now 'CreateSpace'.
Heliographica This publisher is out of business.
IndyPublish They have been under a moratorium since early 2001.
Instabook This publisher's site is still available and seemingly operational but their services as a POD printer are no longer even mentioned.
iPublisher This publisher has renamed itself. It is now 'Wheatmark'.
PageFree Publishing This publisher is now out of business and its site is no longer available.
Pleasant Word This publisher has renamed itself. It is now Winepress Publishing.
Prairie View Publishing This publisher seems to have disappeared.
Protea Publishing This publisher is now out of business and its site is no longer available.
Unlimited Publishing This publisher has changed its business model. It no longer charges an upfront fee and therefore it no longer qualifies to be included in the comparison (link goes directly to the publisher's site).
WideThinker.com This publisher seems to be out of business.
The Writers' Collective This company no longer offers POD services, insisting instead on authors paying for an offset print-run of several thousand copies and with a price estimate approaching $20,000.00.
YBK Publishers This publisher has changed its business model. It no longer charges an upfront fee and therefore it no longer qualifies to be included in the comparison (link goes directly to the publisher's site).
Articles on POD
WARNING: while some of the information contained in these articles may still be relevant today, these are very, very, VERY rough first drafts that were written over ten years ago, and many of them are terminally outdated)
Balancing a Promotional Budget A very simple introduction to what it takes to organize a promotional budget intended to help you figure out what your real costs are likely to be.
Beware of... A list of things that may be trouble when it comes to choosing a POD publisher.
Beware, Treacherous Clauses Ahead An attempt to explain some of the less than pleasant surprises that may be lurking in the contract you are about to sign.
Do's and Don't's 101 A guide to dealing with a POD publishers before and after you sign that contract.
Fee or Free? An article in which I try to explain what are the pros and cons of paying a fee.
From the Press to the Reader An extremely oversimplified comparison of how traditionally published books, and POD published books are marketed.
Great Expectations A few warnings about unrealistic expectations and misleading advertisement relating to POD. If you are looking for a positive outlook, you won't find it here, but it may save you a disappointment.
Is POD for Me? A sort of "User's Guide" that may help you evaluate the pros and cons of using this new technology, and it will also give you a clear idea of what to look for when choosing a specific publisher.
Library of Congress 101 A quick overview of what an LCCN is.
Measuring a Publisher's Health Publishers' sites may look great but looks can be deceiving. These are few tips that may help you determine a publisher's current "health" at any given time.
Publish or Self-Publish? An analysis of the pros and cons of self-publishing when compared with hiring a POD publisher, as well as some suggestions on when self-publishing could be described as a good or bad idea.
Royalties, the R-word This will help you understand and compare the different systems used by publishers to describe what you can expect when it comes to royalties.
Sales Rankings This articles attempts to provide a quick guide into the wonderful world of bouncing sales rankings (WARNING: while most of the information included here is still valid, chances are some of the details are at least somewhat outdated).
Should You Accept Returns? A quick look at the pros and cons of returnability within the context of POD (WARNING: while the basic analysis regarding the pros and cons of returnability remains valid, Spirngboard Logisticsis now out of business).
What Is POD? A brief introduction to the concept of Print On Demand

*With a couple of exceptions these figures refer to the least expensive package offered by the publisher in question.
**These represent my personal opinion.

Please support this site by purchasing one of these titles (click to go to the excerpts):

Citlalli on the Edge of the Wind (fantasy)

Citlalli and the Shards of Light (fantasy)

Laira (science fiction)

Soulless (horror)

Scales at a Glance (music theory)


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