1. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    POD books vs. conventional printing -- is the print quality there yet?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by JLT, Apr 24, 2016.

    When I first started investigating the Print-On-Demand market about ten years ago, one of the stumbling blocks for me was that the quality of POD books just wasn't up to the standards of conventionally printed books. There were stories of blurred text, bindings that fell apart after a year or so, and so on. That was why I decided to have 1500 copies of the books printed by a company whose quality I trusted.

    I'm not hearing as many of these stories lately, but they still crop up from time to time. Is there any substance to them? How do you folks who have had POD books published feel about the quality of the print or binding job you received?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    You have to be careful with the formatting - that's what I've found hardest to get right in my POD books. Making them look like a "professionally" published book can be tricky. But once they've been formatted properly I've not had problems with the printing or binding.
     
  3. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    I'm perfectly happy with mine - I went through CreateSpace.

    The easiest way to check production quality is just to get some, though. Buy a book through CreateSpace, Lulu, anyone else you're considering. See how solid they feel when they're actually in your hands.
     
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  4. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    A little follow-up:
    I talked with a gentleman who operates an independent book-store here in Sacramento. He said that the binding quality of the POD books he's seen seems to be equivalent to the usual "perfect" binding of most paperbacks. But the text quality often sucks, because a lot of the POD books are simply out-of-copyright books that people have scanned and re-issued under their own imprint, coffee stains and all. He thinks that this may be what's giving POD books a bad name.
     
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    People who scan old books like that do end up with bad print quality. If you have a book you wrote yourself and are uploading the PDF or Word file, or whatever, the print quality is just fine.
     
  6. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I've never had a problem with my POD books from Createspace. They look, feel and smell like regular trad books. Formatting was a huge learning curve and getting the facing pages and various pages at the beginning of the book were a bit on a pain in the ass, but for the most part it was pretty straight forward and produced some really good results.

    The brilliant thing about POD, is that if I buy three books, and notice an error, I can log on, make the amendment and know that within 24 hours (48 at the most) the edited version is available and I don't have to consign a print run of 1500 units to the bin and then find the cash to replace them.
     
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  7. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I never did update this, and I think it's time I did.

    I have two copies of one of my books in front of me. Both are "trade" paperbacks with color covers and black and white interiors. The first was conventionally printed by a printing company. The second is a Print-On-Demand via CreateSpace. You'd have to look hard to see the differences ... the color intensity of the cover is a bit reduced on the POD sample, and the black-and-white halftone pictures seem a tad muddier. And it's my impression that the cover of the POD is a little more liable to curling when it's humid.

    I might add that when I got back the proof of the POD, the half-tones were a lot muddier, even though I submitted the same PDF version that I sent the original printers. It turned out that the illustrations were of lower resolution than CreateSpace recommended. When I re-submitted the illustrations at the higher resolution, the results were acceptable.
     
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  8. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Also did CreateSpace. I prefer the cream color paper (did plain white for one) Cover quality is excellent. One of my early proofs used a glossy cover rather than matte, which seems to be more susceptible to warping and dog-earing. The matte cover does seem to be so susceptible. Text quality, can't tell the difference, though unlike @JLT I don't have side-by-side copies.
     
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  9. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    POD from vanity publishers is iffy. POD from pure book printers is quite good.
    Trad pub books are fair to excellent. And generally better than POD.
     
  10. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    You were lucky. There are many horror stories about vanity press POD quality. And , yes, amazon is a vanity press operation who bought one of the worst vanity PODs to become their printer. You still hear problems about their quality although not as bad as day 1 before amazon.
     
  11. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    It is more than that. Many original books have bad formatting, pages out of sequence, pages missing, jumbled text, pages falling out, smudges, yada yada. Vanity PODs are the worst risk. There are book printers who use POD that provide good quality but cost a little more.
     
  12. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    IMHO those are some of the least good sources. I would research many of the possibilities before I chose a vanity printer. And always check reviews before you pick anyone to produce your book.
     
  13. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    Createspace is a print-on-demand company, not a vanity publisher. Which I guess is what you mean when you say 'vanity printer'? Not a term I've heard before. In any case, I'm pretty certain they just outsource all the printing to Lightning Source. Lulu may well do the same.
     
  14. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    It can be either. Amazon wants to sell services like old POD vanity presses did.
    And legally the person who owns the ISBN is the publisher so if you take the free one you got vanity published.
    If you buy your own then you are the publisher even if you pay for services.
    If you use only an ASIN then apply the duck test.
     
  15. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    That is how literally no-one else understands the term 'vanity publishing'. Vanity publishers are companies who act like real publishers but make the author contribute significantly to the costs - usually without mentioning that upfront. Createspace let you print books, paying them for production services as an optional extra.

    But having now read some of the other threads you've wandered into, I'm pretty sure you're just trying to start pointless arguments. Often as not, I'd be up for that, because it's good practice - but not tonight.
     
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  16. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    It is too bad that speaking the truth makes you think it is a pointless argument.

    Create space is both a vanity press and a traditional printer.
    Whether it is vanity for a given author depends on who owns the ISBN. Sorry if legal truth seems like arguing.
    And in any event amazon does no curating and prints everything which is the hallmark of vanity presses when they were pure vanity.
    These days some trad pubs do a bait and switch and refer authors to their vanity division when they don't want to publish them traditionally.
     

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