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The Next Chapter in Your Entrepreneurial Journey: Print-on-Demand Books

Image of a man standing at a printing station to print on demand books for his business

You don’t have to be a trained writer to publish a book. And you don’t need lots of money to invest in printing copies to sell and distribute. In fact, you can self-publish your own book while taking advantage of the benefits a print-on-demand business model has to offer.

Print-on-demand books are a great way to start your self-publishing journey. Whether you already have an engaged audience, are looking to add to your existing product collection, or are just getting started, print-on-demand books could be a viable option for you.

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Why choose print-on-demand book publishing?

The print-on-demand business model is an attractive one for new and aspiring entrepreneurs alike. It’s an accessible way to start a business—all you really need is an idea and the will to pursue it.

For starters, when you use print on demand, you don’t need to make a big inventory investment—not to mention find a place to store everything. And when it comes to print-on-demand books in particular, a large order could mean thousands lost to damage, inconsistent quality, and misprints.

Plus, finding a publisher for your book idea can be frustrating. If you already have an audience, you can monetize them yourself—no need for a publisher to print and promote your book on your behalf. That’s exactly what Braveen Kumar of The Tumblr Poet did when he started his print-on-demand business. Braveen already had a small but engaged Instagram following, and he also built a pre-launch email list to promote his book of poems.

Outsourced printing and fulfillment means you can focus on the business side of things instead of fumbling around with publishers and logistics.

Print-on-demand book websites for self-publishing

Lulu xPress

Lulu xPress

  • Notable timelines: Production time is three to five business days; shipping typically takes anywhere up to 28 days.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Hardcovers, paperbacks, comic books, magazines.

Lulu xPress is the simpler book-printing side of Lulu’s overall book publishing services, and is perfect for self-publishing. There are lots of formats and options to choose from, including hardcover and paperback, black-and-white and color, and a range of paper types.

Braveen used Lulu xPress to print his poetry book because it had decent profit margins for him. He sold the book, which cost $3 to print and $6–$9 to ship, for $20. Using Lulu xPress also allowed him to sell his book on Shopify, supporting his long-term goal of building out a whole print-on-demand brand with different products. It also allowed him to use Instagram product tags to tag his book directly in posts—especially helpful considering photos of pages from the book were part of his content strategy.

the tumblr poet

Lulu xPress prints both hardcover and paperback books. You can choose from options for perfect-bound, coil, saddle stitch, hardcover casewrap, and hardcover linen with dust jacket bindings. There are also distribution tools to help market your book and drive sales.

Contrado: Print on Demand

contrado

  • Notable timelines: Most products are printed and delivered in three to five business days; orders are dispatched within 24 hours.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Scrapbooks, portfolio look books, notebooks, spiral bound notebooks, guest books, address books, photo books, photo albums.

Contrado is a print-on-demand Shopify app with more than 470 products to choose from—stationery books among them. While you won’t find print-on-demand services for a “traditional” book, you can upload your own designs for notebooks, address books, and photo books, among others. It’s an ideal platform for artists and creatives with highly visual book designs. You can also sell your art on Contrado, increasing your earning potential.

No design of your own? No problem, Contrado has pre-made templates and patterns you can choose from.

Contrado ships internationally. Fees vary but most orders arrive in three to five business days, even cross-border. Contrado also offers discounted rates for students. Customers praise the POD service’s customer support team, reachable via live chat and email.

Acutrack

  • Notable timelines: Orders are shipped within 72 hours.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Not listed.

Acutrack is a print-on-demand and fulfillment service provider that specializes in books. In addition to print-on-demand books, it presses DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and USB thumb drives. The POD company specifically calls out entrepreneurs in the “personal development space” as the perfect fit for its service, though it can be a good option for any self-publishing author.

Acutrak features a flexible open API as well as integrations with Shopify, Amazon, ClickFunnel, Salesforce, and more than 100 ecommerce platforms. Online reviews comment on the helpful customer support and fast fulfillment times. Some merchants describe Acutrack as a complete fulfillment partner.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

  • Notable timelines: Ebooks are pretty much instant—your book will hit Kindle stores in 24–48 hours.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Ebooks, paperbacks.

With Amazon’s print-on-demand books service, you can publish and distribute digital and paperback copies to customers all over the world. You can leverage Amazon’s Kindle store to put your book in front of potential new customers. It’s free to list your products, though you’ll pay a commission on every sale.

One key benefit to using Amazon KDP is you can order proof copies to check for errors when printing. This mitigates money lost to damaged or improperly manufactured goods—you pay the printed cost plus shipping.

If you’re looking for magazines, periodicals, or spiral bound notebooks, you’ll need to use a different POD service. That said, you can repurpose your existing books into Amazon ebooks or paperbacks if you want to take advantage of the potential visibility on its marketplaces.

Blurb

  • Notable timelines: Printing and binding takes four to five business days.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Photo books, trade books, magazines, notebooks, ebooks.

Blurb is a print-on-demand company specializing in books and art for creatives. It has a huge selection of paper types ranging in quality and price points, as well as digital design tools to help you lay out your product.

Blurb integrates with Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and InDesign to make it easier to directly bring your designs over. You can also publish and sell digital copies of your books through Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and even the Blurb bookstore.

blurb

Note, however, Blurb charges a “custom logo fee” if you want to remove its branded watermark from your book. Essentially, it increases the price of your book by 25%. Overall, reviews are mixed. Prices start at $14.99 for a small square, softcover book—so it can be pricey for businesses.

IngramSpark

ingramSpark

  • Notable timelines: Not disclosed.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Ebooks, paperbacks, hardcovers, premium color, standard color.

IngramSpark is a POD service with lots of options for self-publishing a book. It has a variety of printing options for size, paper type, finish (matte vs. glossy), paper color, paper weight, and cover. It even has a special Digital Cloth with a textured hardcover. IngramSpark also provides distribution services.

While IngramSpark may sound great, reviews are mixed. There are 80 complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and several blog posts online detailing challenges with the POD provider. If you want to try it out, take advantage of its zero-order minimum and do so in small batches.

BookBaby

  • Notable timelines: Proofs take about eight days, book is available for sale on Amazon in as little as 20 days, and first orders are fulfilled in as little as 50 days.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Ebooks, photo books, comic books, magazines, hardcovers, paperbacks, art books, yearbooks.

BookBaby’s print-on-demand book printing service offers black-and-white and full color printing for paperback and hardcover books, as well as digital publication options.

Prices start at $99, and BookBaby offers a unique 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee—plus free shipping on most orders. So although reviews skew negative, it could be a low-risk option to test out.

Other print-on-demand books

Gelato

  • Notable timelines: Gelato requires one to six business days to create a product plus one to four days to ship it.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Photo books, notebooks.

Gelato is a dropshipper that has relationships with over 100 printers in 32 countries, offering 72-hour delivery for most orders. Though you won’t find “traditional” book printing here, you can order softcover and hardcover photo books, notebooks, and even calendars. Gelato also has print-on-demand shirts, apparel, mugs, and other products if you want to grow your brand down the line.

GearLaunch

  • Notable timelines: Orders ship in three to five days; domestic orders arrive in about five to ten business days; Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico & International orders may take two to four weeks.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Journals. The only books GearLaunch offers are journals, though it has hardcover and softcover options.

What’s noteworthy about GearLaunch is it has one of the most extensive catalogs for print-on-demand products on this list, making it ideal if you have plans to expand your product line.

Printify

  • Notable timelines: Most orders are shipped in two to seven business days.
  • Minimum order requirements: n/a
  • Book products available: Notebooks, custom journals.

Printify is a Shopify app that offers notebooks and journals, though not traditional books. It’s another POD printer with a large product catalog that can support a growing brand. All data syncs directly with your Shopify store so you have accurate and up-to-date reporting all the time.

Looking to sell more print on demand products? Browse our full list of print on demand companies and what you can sell.

Share your print-on-demand books with the world

You don’t need to find a heavyweight publisher to share your books with the world. A print-on-demand book business is the perfect place to start to get your message out there, whatever it may be. When you launch your print-on-demand business with Shopify, you get access to thousands of apps to help power your business, as well as a top-notch customer support team who’s invested in your success.


Print-on-demand books FAQ

What is the best print-on-demand site for books?

The best print-on-demand site for books is Shopify. You can connect any of the compatible print-on-demand apps to your Shopify store to drive and sync sales.

Does Amazon print books on demand?

Yes, Amazon prints books on demand. It offers paperback printing services as well as digital Kindle books.

How much does it cost to print books on demand?

It can cost as little as $0 to list digital print-on-demand books, though there are typically associated fees each time you make a sale. Printed book prices vary depending on quality and quantity, as well as provider.
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