As a small press publisher I’m quickly finding myself outgrowing my current distribution outlets. Lulu, for a small specialty press wanting to do hardcovers, is great because there are no set up fees. The downside to this is their distribution costs and shipping are brutal for what they are. I got around the distribution issues for some of my Lulu titles by finding a paperback distributor who will distribute my paperbacks for around $50 a year (per title) and their quality is good. I have no complaints.
My issue is really the hardcovers. I need distribution for my hardcovers and I don’t want my customers raped to get them. If I go with Lulu, my customers tend to have issues (not to mention they charge more for shipping than anyplace else). My alternative option is LS. The problem with LS is not only does that require me to buy a whole new set of professional production software (right now I’m getting away with MS Word and MS Publisher), but the setup fees for each title are expensive. Not to mention the price of books is about the same.
Yes – I probably could go with a private printer and do my own distribution, but I don’t need to add a third full time job to my life. I’m busy enough as is. A few people have suggested other distributors to me. I’m looking into them. It would be nice to find a place that does archive quality hardcovers On Demand with leather covers (I’m dreaming here). If anyone reading this knows of a distribution service that does this – let me know. There is a need for it. I mean, cloth covered hardcovers – I’ve found a few places. Though I suspect I’d have to do my own distribution. LS does a nice job on their hardcovers, but they’re expensive and require you to talk to sales reps. A little too rich for my little niche small press that isn’t in the red, but we’re not making a lot of profit either. Let’s just say that at the moment what DB Publishing makes is enough to keep the door open, but not enough to afford LS without dipping into my other writing incomes or my day-job income.