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Due to the growing popularity of POD, many small companies are coming to the market, and makes this business very competitive. However, I hardly see comments on the quality of printing (paper, binding, color, etc).

These companies print even one copy upon order. Although modern printers are different from classical printing apparatus, printing low quantity is always costy.

I'm afraid these companies might compete with professional printing companies and traditional publisher by lowering the print quality (paper, color, etc). Am I wrong?

Is the quality of POD books comparable with that of books published by major publishers? Is this a major concern I should take into account when choosing a POD service - and how can I check?

UPDATE: As I investigated further by comparing several companies, I believe the difference is in B&W printing. The price for color printing is almost the same. It seems printing companies use color printers even for printing B&W documents. This is the reseason that B&W print with printing companies is only 10-20% cheaper than color print; but B&W book by POD companies is 300% cheaper than color book.

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Hi Ali, welcome to Writers SE. This is not really a writing question, but would be better suited to GraphicDesign SE. Also, questions on the Stack Exchange network need to be focused and answerable. This is more of a discussion or a "what's your experience?" question, which doesn't fit the format. If you can edit this into a clear question, such as "How does POD compare to X kind of printing for quality?", then it can stand. Otherwise it will be closed on whatever SE it's posted. –  Lauren Ipsum Mar 22 '12 at 13:08
    
@LaurenIpsum you are quite right, I will edit it to clarify the question. –  All Mar 22 '12 at 13:10
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@LaurenIpsum - The edit to this question did improve it. However, publishing questions are on scope, as per the FAQ. –  Neil Fein Mar 22 '12 at 14:26
    
@NeilFein: I stand corrected; so they are. As it originally stood, it was really a graphic design question, to my eyes, but the edited version works. –  Lauren Ipsum Mar 22 '12 at 14:39
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@NeilFein I followed your advice. I hope to attract some informative answers. –  All Mar 22 '12 at 15:29
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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I can't speak to any small companies that might be popping up out there, but I can bring my experience with CreateSpace, which is the Amazon POD service. I recently used CreateSpace to provide a print version of one of my books, and when I received the proof copy to review I was truly quite impressed. I compared it side-by-side with a trade paperback that I had recently purchased froma major publisher at B&N, and the quality was every bit as good. The paper stock was actually, in my opinion, better with CreateSpace, but that is probably because I chose a different paper stock to be used. The binding was done in the same manner as the book from the major publisher, and the cover quality was stunning.

I believe that ultimately the cost of production for paperbacks and the processes for creating them have changed so much that it is now much easier and more cost efficient than it ever was in the past. Whereas major publishers have historically used large offset printing presses to mass produce their books, that is no longer a major requirement anymore. With current laser printers and new binding equipment, companies that are willing to make the investment in the proper tools are able to produce similar or better quality at similar prices without having to mass produce.

BTW - With CreateSpace (and other POD programs) you can choose the size of the finished book,, the type of paper you want to use, the font size and style, and the cover. A writer looking to self-publish can make changes to any or all of these areas to reduce the cost, so ultimately you get what you choose. If you go with the cheapest option in every category, then the final product wil be inferior to something produced by a major publisher. However, if you are mindful of your readers and make appropriate selections, you can very easily get the same or better quality.

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Thanks for sharing your invaluable experiences. This is what I wanted to know. –  All Mar 22 '12 at 23:51
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Just to add a small fyi to this the POD "shop front" on the site is often just that, a shop front. The actual POD work is farmed out to approved printers so quality of finished product may vary by territory. For example when I first had Lulu send stuff to me in the UK they used a Spanish Printer who were slow, and sometimes produced lower quality runs of books. For the last four years or so they have switched to a UK printer who is quicker and produces better goods than the original printer. –  One Monkey Mar 26 '12 at 14:07
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