16 Jul 2003 @ 3:23 PM 

Cafepress will soon let you publish books for free (free to the author). This is in contrast to other print-on-demand services such as Xlibris, which costs at least $500 to have your trade paperback or ebook published.

Xlibris requires you give them at least $900 if you want hardcovers, while Cafepress has no plans to offer them at all. Cafepress currently has wirebound and stapled (comic-books?) books, and soon will offer perfect-bound paperbacks.

So, as a CP member for a while now (irrespective of their annoying intellectual piracy nonsense), I slapped up a 340 page Acrobat file to see how much it would cost. A wire-bound book will be $20 with no profit at all, while the perfect-bound books will be $17 (again with no profit). These prices are actually lower than they were yesterday. I guess CP realized nobody was going to pay 30 bucks for a wirebound book.

So, to compare them further, here’s an insane table:

SERVICE PRICE $500 $900 $1,600 $0 $0 $0
Trade Paperback
Author Photo
Cover Art
Design your own
Basic Color Templates
Design your own
Professional Cover Templates
Custom-designed Cover;
Speak with your Xlibris designer
No paid assistance
Up to 3 cover images
Must provide own design
Up to 5 cover images
Supply your own cover
Interior graphics ** 20 30 Anything that works in a PDF
Tables ** 5 10
Indexing ** **
Basic Templates
Professional Templates
Customize elements of interior templates,
talk with XL designer
Complex Design


Author alterations ** ** **      
Electronic galleys
Paper Galleys ** ** **      
FREE Author Copies
Trade Paperback 10      
Hardback 10      
Author Review Copies
Trade Paperback
Availability with online booksellers
through Ingram distribution relationship
** ** **
Books in Print Registration
Library of Congress Registration **
U.S. Copyright Registration **
Author home page and book page
Cafepress “about” item
Online sales and royalty accounting
Control of excerpts
Email Forwarding Service
**=Available as an add-on for an additional fee

Allow me to summarize the high points. Xlibris allows you to send them Word documents, but CP accepts Acrobat only. Xlibris gives you all kinds of handholding, but CP gives you all kinds of freedom. Xlibris has free ISBN submission, but CP allows you to make free changes to the book. Xlibris charges fifty bucks if you discover a typo after reviewing your galleys. Speaking of, CP doesn’t give you galleys, assuming you can read what you wrote all by yourself.

Not counting what your time is worth, you make a profit on a book you sell at Cafepress with the very first book, while it will take a lot more sales to break even with Xlibris. Of course, if you can sell more than 25 books, Xlibris begins to look better. Xlibris gives you 25% royalties on the paperbacks, while CP you set your own rate. Assuming you charge $20 for your 350-page trade paperback, you’ll make 2 bucks per book with CP and 5 bucks per book with Xlibris. That means you’ll need to sell a hundred books through Xlibris to break even. If you sell one hundred of those books via CP, you’ll have made $200. But, if you have a big seller, it begins to get more interesting. That CP book will net you 400 bucks after 200 copies are sold, and Xlibris will get you 500.

It all comes down to two things – initial cost and flexibility/assistance. Xlibris will help you get your book together and out, and offers some very nice templates to get you looking professional. Cafepress makes you do your own layout work, but allows an infinite flexibility in the design. Also, the free ISBN from Xlibris means you’ll be listed in Books In Print so people at Amazon and B&N can find you; CP charges an undetermined price for that. If you want a hardcover, you’ll be disappointed by CP, but if you want to publish a wire-bound cookbook or a comic-book style book, you’ll be disappointed by Xlibris.

The POD revolution is still in its infancy, but it sure is beginning to look interesting.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 26 Jun 2006 @ 07:39 PM

Categories: Copyfight, Geek


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