The perils of web on-demand publishing

I recently wrote a book and decided to publish with Lulu as a leading brand. When i received my proof copies the quality was unacceptable. Now I am trying createspace (Amazon) to see if they can do better.

The book is only a little one, a pilot for That Which Comes After. It is a humourous IT book, if such a thing is possible. So I don't think I can charge over US$30, so I'm limited to black-and-white paperback. Or in Lulu's case black-and-lemon-yellow.

See Lulu use a number of printers world-wide. The Lulu forums are alive with complaints about the Spanish printer who served much of the world. Now one has started in Melbourne, Australia, which is close to me.

Today I received the book proof. Look at this:

Lulu book quality

In real life the paper is even more yellow. Behind paragraph 5.8 you can see the outline of a box. That box is TWO pages further into the book.

Now if you were a US author you would get a proof on higher quality paper and you would never know any different until your international buyers started to complain... and return books.

There are various tricks I can play to get Lulu to send me a US-printed version but that is not the point.

The possibility that any percentage of my buyers would receive a product like this is unacceptable. Lulu should check their printers before engaging them. The paper they use should not be a surprise or a support issue. This is not something I should be having to fix.

So now I am trying createspace to see if they can deliver a better product. Be warned.

Aussie printer is better

I published with Lulu.

The Aussie printer is better now but still not as good as the USA: about 75% of the paper weight, rougher gluing, and much worse packaging. But at least they don't look like dime novels any more.

The issue remains that I believe ODP printers are less consistent/reliable

I fired Lulu

The books from Australia, while better, were consistently poorly bound. Lulu showed no inclination to fix the underlying problem with the printer. Every time I complained they focused on replacing the books with more equally bad ones, and demanded evidence of the problem each time.

I'm sure the US-printed books are great but their support sucks and I just got sick of them.

So all my sales now go through CreateSpace, via Amazon.

But I might be back to Lulu

Lulu support pissed me off badly and i focused on CreateSpace. But ultimatley the lack of European distribution is hurting me and I may have to reactivate Lulu. here is a comparison