Reviewing Printing Services
Now that we’ve seen the websites, as well as the benefits and different issues with them, it’s time to see how the final product turns out after all that work. If you haven’t read the creation process yet, or would like to know how accessible services like LuLu, Blurb, and Amazon are, please click the below button.
LuLu and Blurb
For this portion of the review, I’m looking at my hardback copies of the Edris Compendium Cosplay Edition. Both of which are hardbacks, and should have been the same size. I had two versions of the Blurb copy online in two sizes, and made sure to select the 6×9 one, but was sent the 5×8.
As you can see in the above image, the books are most certainly not the same size; the Blurb edition is far smaller, Blurb printed the wrong file. My guess is their system for managing projects is shoddy, even on the printers end.
Let’s start with the covers first.
The Blurb cover has been misaligned when printed, leaving a white border at the bottom. It also had bumps of glue sticking out from under the wrap. It showed zero care had been put into assembling this book at the factory.
LuLu’s only has slight issues with the alignment on the right side.
The back of the books shows more about the level of care put into manufacturing by both companies.
The barcode on Blurb is put in the middle of the book, which I just find odd. But you can see here, on the back of the Blurb book, that the white line at the bottom isn’t even the same thickness going across; this just confirms to me that this book had been botched by the factory and sent out, without any quality control whatsoever. Maybe the previewer was not very accurate at all, showing me where the wrap fold really was, or it was shoddy craftsmanship at the printers. Who knows, let’s move onto the interior.
LuLu book interior shows a white line running consistently throughout the entire book, at the bottom of every single page, which shouldn’t even be there if the previewer on the site was accurate. The quality of the print is fantastic; the paper is sleek, glossy, and the colours really pop.
The same cannot be said for the Blurb copy; the margins shown on the previewer are not at all accurate, and parts of the interior pages have been cut excessively close to the page numbers, with some pages not even being cut straight. The paper felt cheap, even though I had ordered the same #80 coated paper as I had done from LuLu.
I am appalled by the lack of quality control from Blurb; it’s not even just this one book either that I ordered from them that went wrong!
As shown to the left, this is the book interior for a different project, and even here Blurb messed up; I selected cream/off-white paper and they sent it in standard white. The margins, like in the above sample, also were not at all accurate to what the previewer showed, and more of the margins of the book had been cut off than needed.
You shall see in the Paperback review for Amazon how accurate its previewer is, for the Hardback option Amazon has provided is still very new, and at the time of writing this modified review (September 29th, 2021) the previewer service may change for it.
Amazon hardback creation is currently done the same way as Paperbacks. The system in place for printing them, however, is still in its infancy and at present requires those in the UK to order proofs and authors’ copies from the EU stores.
When I redesigned my hardback editions of Specimen G-13 to be more grungy, and follow the same colour scheme over the 3 books, I was concerned that Amazon’s printing would look cheap, especially where the black-heavy areas and colour meet, as blurring can occur. Considering how much cheaper it was to print the actual books themselves, I was very impressed with the final print.
Matte covers come with the risk of fingerprints and smudge marks being more visible, or the print fading in parts as the covers lack that extra protection, but the finish itself feels wonderfully velvety and I couldn’t imagine changing to a glossy cover.
The paper is also a surprise; I selected the same type of paper I use for my paperbacks, and the hardback version feels far thicker.
For comparison’s sake; Specimen G-13, printed at LuLu, costs £10.12 (but must be sold at £22.74 for me to make £1.) The same book, printed at Amazon, costs £13.06 (sold at £15.99 to make £1.67). Now whilst the LuLu book costs me less to print, in order to sell it on the market I have to inflate the price to make any money, whilst Amazon don’t do such a thing. I can sell my hardbacks at a reasonable price and still make some pennies.
In complete honesty; the quality of the print from both LuLu and Amazon is great, but the paper quality from Amazon is far superior.
The Blurb book interior was not like the previewer made it look.
LuLu’s previewer is good, but inconsistent when it comes to hardbacks.
Amazon’s previewer is the most reliable but may change for hardbacks.
Blurb have shown a serious lack of quality control and care for their products.
LuLu did a wonderful job printing this book, even if it had two errors.
Whilst the books had some scuffing, they were still very well made by Amazon.
Please click the below button to read my more detailed reviews into HARDBACK, PAPERBACK, or EBOOK services.