My experiences printing a small batch of books

A comparison of four online printing services: Blurb, BookBaby, Lulu, and Nook Press

  • 100 pages or so (still working on it)
  • 6"×9" (or even smaller if possible), hardcover
  • black-and-white text, no photos
  • cream (natural) paper, uncoated, 50# or more if available

Printing services I compared

Price

  • Blurb:
    One copy: $15.75. Fifteen copies: $14.18.
  • BookBaby:
    One copy: $19.00. Twenty-five copies: $17.83.
    Note: BookBaby doesn’t allow you to get 2–24 copies, only one or 25+.
  • Lulu:
    One copy: $14.65. Fifteen copies: same.
  • Nook Press:
    One copy: $8.50. Fifteen copies: same.
  • Blurb: 3–5 business days for print (I think… I inferred it), delivery options from economy for $3.99, to one-day for $21.99.
  • BookBaby: 7 business days for print, delivery options from economy for $15.49, to next-day for a staggering $56.90.
  • Lulu: 3–5 business days for print, delivery options from mail (2–6 business days) for $4.99, to express (1 business day) for $39.99.
  • Nook Press: 3 business days for print, delivery options from economy for $5.50, to 2–3 business days for $20.50.

Options

A few of the Lulu options. A lot of graying out happens as you switch between them.
A few of Nook Press options

Print sharpness

Print quality: Blurb and BookBaby
Print quality: Lulu and Nook Press

Paper quality

Cover and dust jacket

Blurb: Dust jacket and cover
BookBaby: Dust jacket and cover
Lulu: Dust jacket and cover
Lulu cover spine text embossing (lowercase is also available)
Nook Press cover and all the covers (sans dust jackets) together: Nook Press (bottom), BookBaby, Lulu, and Blurb (top)

Barcode

Barcode in Blurb on the last page (identical as in Nook Press), on Blurb’s cover, on Nook Press’s cover

Craft

Blurb and BookBaby misalignment
Lulu and Nook Press misalignment
BookBaby misaligned glue + crease on the cover

Creation and uploading experience

Blurb Mac app (Bookwright), and its InDesign plug-in UI
BookBaby user interface
Lulu user interface
Nook Press user interface

Customer support

BookBaby customer support email. I followed the instructions to “Complete Project” unsuccessfully a few times. I then replied to an email saying I don’t know what to do. Only then, I was told what the problem was. That could’ve been said in the above email, sparing us both a week.

What did I choose?

Available cover colours at Lulu
The books without dust jackets

Addendum: My dreams and suggestions for each service

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Designer/typographer · Writing a book on the history of keyboards: https://aresluna.org/shift-happens

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