Print Your Own Book

You’re ready to print your own book. You’ve got the final PDF files ready. Now you want to find the best printing service because you plan on ordering a number of them and shipping them somewhere. (If you need final files, have a look at our latest edited, typeset, and cover-designed books to see if you’d like to work with us.)

The two print-on-demand (POD) printing companies most used by self-publishing authors are Ingram Spark and Amazon KDP, mainly because of the cost and their printing reach, so they will be the main focus of this post.

Amazon vs Ingram Spark – A comparison table.

Choice Factors

Amazon KDP

Ingram Spark

Book sizes 16 choices

5″ x 8″  to 8.27″ x 11.69″

30 choices (+ custom sizes)

4″ x 6″ to 8.5″ x 11″

Hardcover sizes start at 5″ x 8″

Paperback or hardcover Soft cover only – Matte or gloss/laminated Softcover – Matte or gloss/laminated

Hardcover – Cloth-like, textured, and dust jacket options

Book binding Perfect bound – Pages and cover glued together Perfect bound

Hardbound – Pages glued to cover at the ends

Print quality Black and white

Standard color

Black and white

Standard or premium color

Printing cost KDP printing cost calculator Ingram printing cost calculator
Book upload cost Free $49
Printing speed 5 to 10 business days (usually) 5 business days (usually)
Shipping time and cost Overnight to 1 week

$3.99 minimum
Plus handling fee and local taxes

Overnight to 1 week

$4.05 minimum
Ingram print and ship calculator
Plus handling fee and local taxes

Book distribution Available to Amazon sites globally Available to > 40,000 retailers, including Amazon sites globally
Customer support Spotty Good

Factors When Choosing Your Book Printing Company – Important aspects to consider

When choosing who to go with for book printing, what’s important to you will dictate your final choice:

  1. Book sizes – Most authors go with an 8.5″ x 5.5″ or 6″ x 9″ book size. Ingram Spark offers more than twice the number of size choices.
  2. Soft or hardcover – Unless you have a following of about 20,000 expectant readers, I don’t recommend the extra cost of a hardcover.
  3. Book binding – Saddle stitch is mostly discontinued now, with paperbound being the go-to standard—the pages are glued to the spine.
  4. Print quality – Depends on ink quality and paper weight. Ingram Spark’s quality is said to be better than KDP’s, especially on the covers.
  5. Printing cost – Amazon KDP is the cheapest option I know of.
  6. Book upload cost – Most printing companies don’t charge an upload fee. Even though Ingram Spark does, there are many coupons available online that will offset that cost. However, Ingram will also charge for a change of files if you want to edit anything after you’ve approved the proof.
  7. Printing speed – Amazon KDP can be slow, sometimes taking twice as long as Ingram Spark.
  8. Shipping time and costs – Can vary wildly depending on which service the printing company uses, as you’ll see below. I’ve found Amazon KDP will predict three weeks for delivery and then usually ship them within two weeks.
  9. Book distribution – If you want your books in bookstores, print with Ingram Spark rather than Amazon KDP as only Ingram Spark allows for returns and refunds.
  10. Customer service – Ingram Spark has a good support setup. It can be difficult to get a quick response from Amazon KDP that answers your exact question.

Visit bookshop.org for our collection of clients’ books.

Book Printing on Demand Cost – Sample total costs for two average book sizes

This is the best option for self-publishing as you can dictate exactly how many books you want to store in your home, and you’re not left standing at your mailbox offering freebies to passersby just to get your garage space back. The more you order, the cheaper it gets. By choosing basic shipping (book rate), it can mean you are okay with the order being non-trackable and non-insurable.

Sample total prices for a 5.5″ x 8.5″ softcover book
Printing,  handling fee, basic shipping, and 8.25% taxes included

Number of books KDP Ingram Spark
1 $6.57 $Unavailable
10 $35.50 $Unavailable
25 $83.75 $Unavailable
50 $159 $Unavailable
100 $315 $Unavailable

Sample total prices for an 8″ x 10″ softcover workbook
Printing,  handling fee, basic shipping, and 8.25%  taxes included

Number of workbooks KDP Ingram Spark
1 $6.68 $10.71
10 $36.60 $54.55
25 $86.50 $127.62
50 $164.50 $257.94
100 $326 $516.94

 

Book Printing Services – Offered by other printing companies, along with sample costs

You will save the most money overall if you can find a local book printing company because of saving on shipping costs. Local printing shops without book printing equipment have to outsource the job and charge a markup fee, making the cost of one book exorbitant —about $20 per book.

Some book printing companies I have found to be good (besides Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark) are below in order of expense. Prices quoted are for an 8.5″ x 5’5″ softcover with 150 pages.

Lulu

  • Minimum order 1
  • Printing cost $114 for 25
  • Plus $20 ground shipping costs = $134

The Bookpatch

  • Minimum order 1
  • Printing cost $158 for 25
  • Plus USPS or UPS shipping costs = Unknown total

Gorham Printing

  • Minimum order 25
  • Printing cost $166 for 25
  • Plus USPS or UPS shipping costs = Unknown total

PrintingCenterUSA

  • Minimum order 10
  • Printing cost $197 for 25
  • Plus free ground shipping = $197

48-hr Books

  • Minimum order 10
  • Printing cost $205 for 25
  • Plus free ground shipping = $205

DiggyPod

  • Minimum order 24
  • Printing cost $207 for 25
  • Plus $12 ground shipping = $220

BookBaby

  • Minimum order 1
  • Printing cost $269 for 25
  • Plus $48 ground shipping costs = $317

PDF to Book Printing – A short explanation

Most printing companies will only accept two print-ready, high-resolution PDF files — one for the cover and one for the interior. These are delivered to you by your typesetter or cover designer as final files that are ready to upload.

Read more about designing your cover.

Read more about designing your interior layout.

In Summary

In summary, you can print as many copies of your own book as you wish and ship them wherever you want, starting at about $3.50 per book after shipping and tax. If you don’t think your book will get into bookstores, I recommend Amazon KDP. If you do, I recommend Ingram Spark. And if you need books in a hurry, you can do a rush print order with any of the other printing companies I’ve mentioned above for a higher price.

I hope your book becomes a best seller. Good luck!