How to Choose the Right Print-On-Demand Service

In today’s world, self-publishing has become a popular choice for those aiming to get their book out there for the world to find. For those who might not know, print-on-demand is a service that allows you to print books one at a time as they are ordered by customers. The print-on-demand service will ship directly from the printer to your customer, without him/her being the wiser. Sounds awesome, right? It really is, but the problem is that there are a lot of companies out there who will gladly take your money so you have to be careful who you choose to put your trust in.

The good news is that I have done some work for you by compiling a list of the top POD publishing companies.


CreateSpace is by far one of the most popular choices in the realm of self-publishing. CreateSpace allows you to publish:

  • Paperback Books
  • Comic Books
  • Audio Books (through Audible)
  • Digital Videos
  • DVDs

CreateSpace provides you with the option of choosing a free ISBN or using a customized ISBN. The choice you make depends on your level of experience so I won’t get too far into this topic. Here’s the catch. CreateSpace distributes your book on Amazon only. If you want your book distributed through Barnes & Noble, Diamond, or Books-a-Million then you will have to set that up yourself. That’s not really a big deal since you can purchase multiple copies of your book for a low cost.

Is CreateSpace the best choice for you? If you are new to the world of self-publishing then you should go with CreateSpace. Amazon rules the world of books so they provide an all-in-one setup. You book’s ISBN is easy to set up and their customer service department is unmatched!


Ka-blam is perfect for anyone looking to self-publish their comics. One visit to their site is a dead giveaway that they specialize in comic books. Everything is laid out perfectly so that it’s easy to get a customized quote based on your exact needs. Ka-blam even offers the option of giving you a discount if you agree to allow them to place a small ad on the back over of your book. However, I don’t recommend you choose this option because you can make more money by selling back cover ad space yourself.

Like with CreateSpace, there is no set-up fee and you can order a proof of your book before committing to larger shipments. They also offer the option of distributing your book through popular comic outlets like Indy Planet, ComicsMonkey and Indy Digital sites.

The only downside of using Ka-Blam is that you have to pay around 10% more if you cannot wait through their 42 discount period. So long as you plan ahead of time, you should be okay in this area though. Furthermore, they do not have the superb customer service as CreateSpace. I have heard stories of emails taking several weeks to get responded to.

Is Ka-Blam the best choice for you? If you specialize in comics, then yes. However, for paperback novels I recommend you select another of the options at your disposal.

Lightning Source

Lightning Source is a division of one of the largest book distributors in America, Ingram. They are an awesome company in almost every respect. They have wonderful customer service, the very short turnaround time of a month, and they do awesome work. For a modest fee of $12 a year, you can get your book listed on major retailers like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and any other bookstore that you request. Furthermore, Lightning Source has distributors in Australia and Europe, giving you the potential to go international.

About the only drawback of Lightning Source is that you are required to have an ISBN, making it a more difficult option for beginners. While it’s easy to register an ISBN on, beginners might have difficulty doing this.

There is also a small one-time fee of around $80 to set your book up but that isn’t a deal breaker. They require you to approve a physical proof of your book before they will start printing it.

Is Lightning Source the best choice for you? I recommend Lightning Source only for those who have experience in self-publishing and are ready to make a small investment in the success of their book. Yes, Lightning Source does get your book into the hands of a wider audience but you will need to determine if that fact alone is worth the cost.

360 Digital Books

360 Digital Books is another truly remarkable print-on-demand company with outstanding customer service. They are unique in that they offer fulfillment services that operate directly on your website. This service is so awesome that they do not hesitate to send you samples of their work.

There is a set-up fee and they also require you to approve a digital proof before your book goes to the printer, just like with Lightning Source. That’s not really a bad thing though. 360 Digital Books does have a minimum order limit for books. That limit is 25 books but that’s not really an issue either.

Is 360 Digital Books the best choice for you? Just like with Lightning Source, I only recommend that you try using this service if you are experienced in self-publishing and are willing to invest some money. Otherwise, I recommend you stick with the easiest option, which happens to be CreateSpace.

My Recommendation = CreateSpace

In my experience, I have had a lot of success with CreateSpace. It’s the best option for those new to the world of self-publishing. Plus it’s free to set up your book. The only cost comes from the actual printing of the books.

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