#SkyeWriting: Comparing Print Options

Draft2Digital

Note: Their print program is in beta, but I’ve been using it for a couple of years.

Trim: 5.5×8.5

Pages: 98

Sale Price: 9.99

Unit Cost: 2.36

Royalty: 2.14

Ingram Spark

Trim: 5.5×8.5

Pages: 98

Sale Price: 9.99

Wholesale discount: 55%

Unit Cost: 2.60

Royalty: 1.90

Ingram Spark w/ short discount

Because a lot of authors who decide to publish directly with Ingram choose to offer a smaller wholesale discount to increase profits, I ran the numbers again with a 30% discount.

Trim: 5.5×8.5

Pages: 98

Sale Price: 9.99

Wholesale discount: 30%

Unit Cost: 2.60

Royalty: 4.39

Amazon

Trim: 5.5×8.5

Pages: 98

Sale Price: 9.99

Unit Cost: 2.15

Royalty: 3.84

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble’s pricing calculator works a little differently, so I couldn’t show a full breakdown from it. Instead, I pulled up one of my finished books to show the printing cost and royalty breakdown. (NOTE: this book is also a different size and slightly longer.)

Trim: 4.25×7

Pages: 110

Sale Price: 9.99

Unit Cost: 2.49

Royalty: 3.00

Here’s their estimated printing cost for an 5.5×8.5 Paperback (51-100 pages): $2.90

But they don’t offer a way to estimate royalties in this fashion and their estimated page count is broad.

What’s the best setup?

That depends entirely on your goals.

If your goal is to make as much profit as possible on each print copy, it appears that using Ingram with a lowered discount is your best option. Using Ingram gives you more control over the finer details like return options and retailer discounts. However, keep in mind you’ll be looking at higher initial costs (ISBN and setup fees) and possibly recurring costs down the road if you ever decide to update any of your files. Publishing with Ingram also offers the widest distribution since most bookstores and libraries order their books through the Ingram catalogue.

The next best options in terms of profit are publishing directly with the retailer. You’ll get a higher profit margin, but your books will be available in fewer places. Barnes & Noble paperbacks are exclusive to their store and Amazon offers extended distribution, but clicking that option drastically cuts into your profit margin. So, it’s best to only count on publishing through a retailer to sell only on their website.

Draft2Digital offers fewer options: you can’t adjust the wholesale discount or manage titles on a microlevel at this point. They don’t seem to offer bleed options if you want images to extend to the edge of the page. And they’re still in beta, so there’s a waitlist to get onboard. But from my experiences, they’re one of the simpler options to use, and offer competitive rates as long as you’re okay with using the standard wholesale discount. Plus, the customer service is top notch and they definitely make an effort to take care of their authors, so you won’t be stuck with a problem and no one to get ahold of. Finally, they distribute to the Ingram catalogue, so you have the benefit of the same amount of exposure. They provide an option for free ISBNs and there are no upfront setup costs or fees to make changes to your files as long as you wait at least 3 months between updates.

This is by no means a comprehensive look at all of your option. There are other print companies with their own distribution systems like Lulu or Blurb, but I hope this gives a general overview of what’s available and the pros and cons you should keep in mind when choosing a distributor.

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