This is not an exhaustive list of print cost calculators and royalty structures for print-on-demand services by any means, but it does focus on the top three: CreateSpace, IngramSpark, NookPress. Each of these services allows you to order 1-up-to-mass-quantity of your books, shipped directly to you for your own marketing strategy, or you can use these services to integrate your book into Amazon, bookstores, and libraries.
Each website is just a little different than the others.
For instance, CreateSpace has its pricing segmented under different tabs. So you have to go to the “Buying Copies” tab to see the printing cost of your book and the shipping cost. The “Royalties” tab lets you see the royalties that you will pay to have your book promoted on Amazon or sold directly through CreateSpace’s storefront.
A 202 page 5×8 book with a black and white interior on cream paper will cost $3.27 to print and $3.59 for standard 5-day shipping. If you are ordering a quantity of 1000+ books, you can call and inquire about getting a reduced rate.
With a retail price of $9.99, you will receive $2.72 per copy pre-tax if sold through Amazon.com. If you sell your book through your own storefront on CreateSpace.com, then you will receive $4.72 per copy pre-tax. The reality, though, is that people are not familiar with CreateSpace and they will always have to pay shipping when they order through CreateSpace. Free shipping is usually quite easily obtainable through Amazon, and it is already a known and trusted company.
Where does the $2.72 come from, you ask? CreateSpace charges you based on
1) Per Page Charge — the number of pages in your book and
2) Fixed Charges — if your book’s interior is black and white (B/W) or color. (All covers are always printed in color, and the color of the interior paper (white or cream) does not change the cost.)
So for our sample 202 B/W book, CreateSpace charges $.012 per page, which is $2.42, and then charges a fixed cost of $.85.
On top of that number you ALSO have the 40% that Amazon is charging (based on your retail price) for using its standard distribution channel.
- This works out to $9.99 (retail) minus $2.42 (page count cost) minus $.85 (fixed cost) minus $4.00 (Amazon’s standard distribution channel) equals $2.72 per copy sold pre-tax.
If you sell your book through the CreateSpace store, then you do NOT have to pay to use Amazon’s standard distribution channel but you do have to pay 20% to use CreateSpace’s store platform:
- This works out to $9.99 (retail) minus $2.42 (page count cost) minus $.85 (fixed cost) minus $2.00 (CreateSpace takes 20%) leaving you with $4.72 per copy sold pre-tax.
IngramSpark also has two different pages for their “buying copies” and shipping versus “royalties” formulations. They don’t use the term “royalties”, though. Instead, you will see a box for “wholesale discount”, which is anywhere from 40% to 50%, depending on the bookstore. This example will also use a 202 page 5×8 book with a black and white interior on cream paper. So if the retail price of your book is $9.99, the bookstore will want a 45% wholesale discount, which means they will buy your book for 45% of $9.99, which is $4.50. It’s going to cost you $3.89 to have the book printed. An additional $3.80 plus $1.85 handling fee ($5.65) will get you basic shipping for one book, totaling $9.34 for one printed and shipped book (direct cost to you, the author).
- So $9.99 (retail price) minus $4.50 (wholesale discount) minus $3.89 for printing costs leaves you with $1.60 per copy sold pre-tax.
And even though Nook Press doesn’t have the best reviews for customer service, I haven’t personally used them, so I can not comment one way or the other. I will say, though, that they do have the best online calculator of the three. They have everything right there in one place. While they do allow you to toggle lots of different variables, wholesale discount is set at 45% with no way that I can see to change it.
Nook Press doesn’t allow me to put in an exact page number, so I had to choose the 201-250 range. Using the same 202 page 5×8 book with a black and white interior on cream paper, Nook Press will charge me $3.86 to print it (or maybe a little less, because I think they are using the 250 end instead of the 202 end of the page count).
- Retail is $9.99 minus 45% wholesale discount of $4.50 minus print cost of $3.86 leaves you with $1.63 per copy sold pre-tax.
**Note: NookPress has two different quote systems. The system I used above is for distribution platforms. They have a second quote structure for personal printing. The same book sampling I used in the above illustrations is $5 per printed book when using Nook as your personal printer versus the $3.86 per printed book when used for distribution printing.**
And because I was a business analyst long before I even had a dream of being a publishing services provider, I have put together a simple spreadsheet for you visual people.