I've had the last quote it looks like I'm going to get from the print-on-demand companies I visited at the London Book Fair. For reference I asked about a perfect bound 312 page trade paperback "B" size (129mm x198mm) on 80gsm white paper with laminated cover (all companies can do matte or gloss laminations). These are the quotations, in the order I received them!
Lightning Source: Initial set-up: £21 for cover, £21 for book, £21 for proof copy (all required for initial order) which comes to £63. Cover and Binding: 70p, each page: 1p. Delivery: delivery costs + £1.25 handling fee. Discounts: 50 - 99 units: 5%, 100 - 249 units: 10% 250 - 499 units: 20% 500+ units 25% discount. Minimum order quantity: 1 unit. That comes to a unit cost of £3.82. If the various charges are included on a first order, this is what it comes to per book for 10, 100 and 200 copies: 10 copies: £10.24 each, 100 copies: £4.08 each, 200 copies: £3.76. That does not take the cost of delivery into account.
Berforts: quotation was not itemised. 10 copies: £10.70 each, 100 copies: £3.64 each, 200 copies £3.22 each. This does include delivery costs.
Orbital Print: Set-up £30 + 9p per page comes in at £58.08. Cover: 75p gloss laminated, 85p matte laminated, Binding: 50p, each page: 1.2p. 2.5% discount per 100 copies ordered and minimum order of £30. Delivery charges were indicated but, as the weight of the book was not supplied, the information could not be used. That comes to a unit cost of £4.94 for the glossy laminate. Adding the set-up charges but not allowing for delivery, the discount reduces the bill for a first order to the following: 10 copies: £10.80 each, 100 copies: £5.45 each, 200 copies: £5.04 each.
Print on Demand Worldwide have not supplied a quote, but have an online quote generator, which I used. 10 copies: £9.69 each, 100 copies: £3.74 each, 200 copies: £3.32 each. The website says the delivery is free if I order online. I asked for the price without delivery charges. The website suggested that set-up is chargeable on each order. When I asked for a repeat order price, the only difference was that I was not charged for a proof, which made an almost minimal difference to the price.
And that's about it. When I went to Print on Demand Worldwide's website, I mis-typed the link and was redirected to another, rival, company, which I'd never even heard of. They must have registered the domain I mis-entered and are sneakily redirecting those who make the same mistake as me to their site. Cunning! Except that I sent them a quotation request out of curiosity, and they have as yet to get back to me. So why go to all that trouble?
Print on Demand Worldwide's website says they will deliver free if I order online. That makes a big difference. Berfort's prices were inclusive of delivery. Lightning Source quoted without delivery, and then there's that £1.25 extra on top. This makes Print on Demand Worldwide the cheapest on a first order, then Beauforts, then Lightning Source even before the delivery costs are added. (Lightning Source are slightly cheaper than Beauforts for 10 copies, and that suggests Beauforts have either higher set-up fees or lower unit costs or more aggressive discounting or combination thereof, although their quote was not itemised.)
Orbital have similar set-up to Lightning but significantly higher unit prices and much less aggressive discounts.
If it is between the other three, it all comes down to set-up. Including set-up, Print on Demand Worldwide is cheapest. But when I tried to find out how much it would be for a repeat order, they only subtracted the proof copy from the bill. That looks like they charge set-up every time. If so, that knocks them out of the running from the start.
Beauforts are next on price for an initial order including set-up, but were not clear about whether they will charge for set-up on repeat orders. This needs to be clarified with both Print on Demand Worldwide and Beauforts, before I can decide where to go. I can't believe they really do charge set-up on repeat orders, it's barely credible.
Unit costs were not available from all the companies. But assuming similar set-up charges, the running order is still Print on Demand first, then Beauforts, then Lightning, then Orbital.
All could be different if Lightning Source's 20% discount for 250+ copies is taken into account. But, given the state of the gay book marketplace, I'm not sure how easy it will be to get 250 copies onto the shelves of the remaining three bookshops? I think Paradise Press's business model has to be for 100 copies initial order and then 10 copies re-order. Although for a parcel of only 10 books, the weight does come into play quite considerably. The weight bands for parcels and letters are quite wide, so maybe for re-order it should be the weight of books, not the number we decide to order, to reduce the delivery cost per book? If pricing is based on 10 book re-order numbers, then titles will always be in stock. If a book is a runaway success, unit costs drop and margins go up. Hooray!
In conclusion, Print on Demand Worldwide is cheapest, but if they charge set-up on re-order, they are out. Likewise Beauforts. If Beauforts get back to me and say they will waive set-up on repeat orders, then they are narrowly ahead of Lightning Source. Orbital are just too expensive. and are out of the running.
Rather a technical post, I know, but if you're printing books, you need to have an eye on the numbers!
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