Bookbaby is run by ignorant liars. And their prices are insanely high.

Bookbaby is one of dozens of companies that can format and distribute ebooks. I’d heard good things about BookBaby and I was going to try it for an ebook a few years ago. Then I read: “In about four to six weeks, your eBook is up for sale…” That delay was a deal breaker. Competitors such as eBookit and Amazon’s KDP are much, much faster. With some companies, ebooks can be on sale within 24 hours.

Ebook sales are leveling off and yesterday Bookbaby announced that it would begin producing Print On Demand (“POD”) books. Her’s the press release: 

BookBaby Introduces Print On Demand Books with the Industry’s Widest Distribution Network

Self-published authors can now gain unprecedented worldwide book distribution for both eBooks and printed books in 100+ stores and catalogs.

Portland, OR – BookBaby, the self-publishing powerhouse, announces a game-changing on-demand book printing and distribution service that gives authors and publishers the chance to sell their printed books in dozens of stores and catalogs, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s, as well as the complete Ingram and Baker & Taylor networks. Combined with BookBaby’s popular eBook distribution services, self-published authors can now place their books in over 100+ online stores and catalogs around the globe.

Print On Demand (POD) allows authors to sell printed books worldwide without paying for large print runs, inventory and warehousing issues, or handling their own order fulfillment. Books are printed and shipped to customers as needed — and because BookBaby’s POD service comes paired with global distribution, sales can come from almost anywhere in the world. 

“This is different from any other Print On Demand program out on the marketplace,” said Steven Spatz, BookBaby President. “Not only do we offer the most robust book distribution network in the business, we also deliver the highest-quality custom printed books and back that up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.”

“Self-published authors need all the exposure they can get for their books. They deserve to have a place on book store shelves around the world, and our program delivers the maximum exposure through retail stores and wholesale catalogs.”

Unlike other Print On Demand providers, BookBaby uses the very same digital printing presses for their POD books as they do for their larger print runs. “Let’s be honest,” says Spatz. “The print quality for books printed on demand can be spotty. It’s a problem for authors and publishers who get books printed for local sales and also get on-demand printing for global reach because all-too-frequently the book quality differs between the commercially printed books and the POD version. This has been an ongoing problem in the industry for years. BookBaby has changed that. Every single book we print is of the highest-quality in the industry. An author’s first book will be identical to their 1,000th.”

BookBaby’s Print On Demand service allows authors to concentrate on the essentials of self-publishing success — writing and promotion — and leaves all the manufacturing, book distribution, and shipping work entirely up to BookBaby. Whenever a POD client’s book is purchased in a store, online, or ordered by a wholesaler such as Ingram or Baker & Taylor, BookBaby will print, bind, and ship it within five days. 

“Beautifully printed books, true global reach, low upfront cost, one-time sign up, and sell forever– that’s our on-demand printing service in a nutshell,” says Spatz. “When you add that to our strong eBook program, it means we’re serving 100% of an author’s go-to market needs like no one else in the industry.”

“For the first time ever, self-published authors can truly be everywhere they need to be, in all formats, in all the important places, with hand crafted quality books they can be proud of.”
So, what’s wrong with Bookbaby? Lots!

  1. The screenshot up at the top says that “POD is the best thing to happen to self-publishing since the invention of the eBook.” Lightning Source is the largest PODer and has been PODing since 1997. It’s possible that other companies started earlier. While some people will claim that the ebook was invented in the 1940s, the market really took off in 2007 with the introduction of the Amazon Kindle. Bookbaby is either ignorant or deceptive in its claim.
  2. The company says: “All titles signed up for BookBaby printed book POD distribution must exclusively be distributed through BookBaby. Listing your printed book through multiple distribution networks will cause retailers not to carry your title.” That policy is highly restrictive and the warning is a lie. Lots of authors have book distribution through both Lightning Source and CreateSpace, for example.
  3. The company says: “Depending on the retail price of your title, and the specs of the book, most titles will generate between 10% -30% royalties.” It’s easy to make much more money.
  4. The company says: “Your printed book will be available through the largest distribution network and retail sites.” That sentence is inarticulate and probably a dishonest boast.
  5. The company says: “Get your ISBN # from BookBaby for only $29.” Some competitors provide ISBNs for free! 
  6. The company says: “BookBaby stands behind its products and services with the strongest guarantees in the publishing business.” The guarantee is typical, not special.
  7. The company says: “we also deliver the highest-quality custom printed books.” There is little or no difference among the books from various POD companies.
  8. The company says: “Never fear about overpaying for your printed books again. BookBaby now guarantees its prices are the lowest around.” Actually, Bookbaby’s prices are much, much, much higher than prices from such competitors as Lightning Source, CreateSpace or Lulu. It would be extremely hard to make money if you had to pay $89.79 to have one book printed and shipped.

(left) Bookbaby has been advertising a limited-time special deal for one copy of a book for $19. While $19 is better than $88.79, it’s still much higher than CreateSpace ($4.45) or Lulu ($7.25). However, the Baby price includes a color interior which may or may not be important to you. Note: you have to prepare your interior and cover files with Bookbaby’s own templates — you can’t use a template from another printer. This may mean lots of extra work just to compare Bookbaby with CreateSpace, for example.

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