CreateSpace vs Lulu

There are no doubt many more POD providers than I am aware of, but the two main ones are CreateSpace and Lulu. These two companies offer very similar services, but do differ in important ways.

Royalties, although calculated differently, will end up about the same (and both provide writers with a higher take when customers buy from them directly rather than through a third-party seller like amazon). Both companies also have nearly identical paper and binding costs (these go towards the total price of your book), and offer a wide range of book sizes. They will also handle all the shipping for you, and can even provide you with a free ISBN should you need one.

Their distribution channels are slightly different, however, and most notably in regards to amazon. As a child company of amazon, CreateSpace will list your title there for free, and you will be able to find it on amazon almost immediately. If you would like to take advantage of their other distribution options (such as allowing bookstores and libraries to order copies of your title, and the international amazon sites), you will need to pay them about US$40 initially, and then around $5/year after that (though the subsequent annual charge is likely to change–in one direction or the other). With Lulu, you will need to pay at least $25 just to be on amazon, and if you want the full package (almost the same as described above for CreateSpace), it will cost you $75. Lulu is fairly vague on the details of these services, and their site is notoriously difficult to find answers on, so I’m not sure if there is an additional annual charge or not.

Regarding their products themselves, I found that CreateSpace uses a much higher-quality paper, and their covers are slightly better as well. I found Lulu’s paper to be too thin, to the extent that with a heavy black background opposite a page with a white background (such as can be found in our graphic novel), you can actually see some of the black when you’re looking at the white page.

In this regard, with graphic works, I found both companies’ major failing. Neither is really prepared to handle fully graphic books; in the case of CreateSpace because their upload file size is capped at a ridiculous 100MB, which basically means any graphic work beyond a few pages is impossible, and in the case of Lulu (whose cap is at 300MB) because they print at only 300dpi. A standard comic/graphic novel will be printed at anywhere from 800-1600dpi, so right away you can see the difference in image quality when comparing products.

Despite these problems, for anything other than a full-length graphic novel or comic, I would recommend CreateSpace over Lulu. Their service is better, quicker, and they provide a higher-quality product. It’s just too bad neither company is interested in those of us who are also making comics.

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