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Comparison of Print on Demand Cookbook Printers

Arguably the greatest boon for self publishers is the increasing availability of print on demand (POD) capabilities that are attractively priced. This allows the author to only print books once they have been sold, thus reducing the amount of upfront costs and risk associated with bringing a new book to market.

Over the last five years an increasing number of POD companies have been coming to the aid of the self publishing author. Today there are easily more than 100 of these companies vying for the hearts and minds of publishers like yourself.

In attempting to narrow down this field to the POD company that's best suited for your book, you will need to keep in mind the type of cookbook you are planning, your cookbook goals, and the format of your book. We will give you some further assistance by listing some companies that are highly regarded, the two we recommend, and some warnings to consider as you approach your decision.

If you would like to do some additional research we would also like to recommend a website we feel has done the best job of summarizing the capabilities of a large number of these POD companies. The site is called The Independent Publishing Magazine and is the handiwork of Mick Rooney, a publishing consultant, editor, investigative journalist, and author. Each month the magazine publishes the Publishing Service Index which is essentially a rating of the companies providing services to self publishing authors. In addition the site has an impressive collection of detailed reviews for the highest rated services.

Companies We Recommend

These are two companies that we are most familiar with and are comfortable recommending as Print on Demand companies for most cookbooks. The companies have quite a few similarities, but also some important differences. As you consider the company's match for your particular cookbook, you may find that it is actually better to use them both than to select one over the other. This typically requires very little additional work and expense and allows you to leverage the unique strengths of both companies. Below is a brief introduction to each company with a link to a much more detailed description.

CreateSpace

Createspace logo

Perhaps the greatest advantage of using CreateSpace is that it is owned by Amazon.com, which sells 64% of all printed books sold online. This relationship makes it extremely simple and quick to get your cookbook available for sale to millions of customers on Amazon with very attractive royalties.

The intent of CreateSpace is to meet the needs of the self publishing author by providing an inexpensive and user-friendly environment to create and publish a book. In addition to offering handholding along the way they also deliver reasonable customer support and a wide variety of optional services to assist the author if needed. For more information please see our CreateSpace Cookbook Publishing Review.

IngramSpark

Ingramspark logo

Ingram Content Group is the world's largest wholesaler of print and electronic books to independent bookstores, bookstore chains, internet retailers, and specialty markets, as well as other wholesalers. They distribute to more than 38,000 retailers, libraries, schools, and distribution partners in 195 counties. IngramSpark takes full advantage of these distribution channels, getting your book into many markets.

Unlike most companies doing Print on Demand, IngramSpark does not provide a bunch of services such as proofreading, editing, typesetting, or design. They clearly state this on their website, "IngramSpark draws on Ingram's strength - helping books, in any format, reach their destination worldwide." So if you believe you need help in these areas, you may want to go to a different publisher or find them other places online. For more information please see our IngramSpark Cookbook Publishing Review.

Highly Regarded

Typical of all services provided by businesses, it's easy for us to find a cadre of detractors online that find them unsatisfactory. That said, we have done our best to find companies providing services to self publishers that have many more proponents than detractors. Here is the next tier of book publishing companies that many people successfully use.

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.

Outskirts Press

Outskirts press is a relatively small publisher but is rapidly growing. They offer a wide variety of services and excellent distribution through Ingram Book Group and Baker & Taylor, Inc. They do have an upfront, nonrefundable, down payment to get started.

VirtualBookWorm Publishing

VirtualBookWorm is a small publisher proud of the relationships it has with its authors. They do screen manuscripts, they have good distribution and pay competitive royalties. They provide a wide range of services at additional cost.

Infinity Publishing

Infinity Publishing has the unique capability to allow bookstores to return books, which is fairly uncommon for publishers of this type. This might result in more bookstores carrying your title in stock. Unfortunately, the company has relatively low royalties, expensive setup fees, and requires you to pay extra for distribution through Ingram Book Group and Baker & Taylor, Inc.

BookLocker

BookLocker has been around a while and has a good reputation. They have a variety of different types of programs including a DIY one for those who want to minimize expenses. They provide good royalties and a reasonable setup fee. Unfortunately, there is a significant penalty if you need to make changes to your manuscript.

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 CreateSpace.

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.