Comparing the Printing Quality of Lulu to KDP Print

Back in May, I had ordered two copies of Healing Stones from the two printers I use regularly. I wanted to compare the quality of the printing and paper for both the interior and cover. Here’s what I found.

The two printers I used were Lulu and KDP Print. All aspects of the books were the same, including the matte cover.

Cover

Healing Stones front coversWhen placed side-by-side and compared closely, the Lulu copy is a shade darker and the greens in the girl’s hood are greener than that by KDP Print. If the books were held apart, these differences are not noticed.

However, the squares around the “T” on the spines are noticeably different if held apart. The Lulu version is the blue I had chosen and looks like that on my computer. The KDP Print book has a purple square.

Healing Stones spine

The back covers look identical.

Thickness of Cover: It may be my imagination, but when I finger the cover, the KDP Print version feels thicker. However, the more I compare the covers by fingering them, the more I think I’m crazy. Maybe it isn’t. But for this exercise, I’m going to say the KDP Print cover is a breath thicker than the Lulu cover.

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Why Lulu Books are Better to Sell at My Local Markets

For more than ten years, I’ve had my books printed by companies that are not local. In other words, they’re not located within my province of Nova Scotia. I’ve always wanted my books printed in the province, but the logistics weren’t there. I can’t afford to order a minimum of 250 books, nor do I have the space for 250 books x the number of titles I’ve published. That would reach over 1,000 books quickly.

While newer possibilities are opening up all the time and I will one day look into them further, for now, I’m depending on the printers I’ve come to know: Lulu and KDP Print (though I’d much prefer their former company CreateSpace).

I’ve written about my experiences with Lulu and KDP Print on a few occasions, including my recent post, Comparing Print Times of KDP Print and Lulu. In that post I mentioned selling my books at local markets as a Canadian and the concern I have with KDP Print.

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Book Printing, Embedding Fonts and Lulu

Healing StonesAs mentioned in my post on August 17th Comparing Print Times of KDP Print and Lulu, I ran into trouble with Lulu’s newly designed website and their more user friendly tools. While frustrating, once I figured out the source of the problem, I solved the problem for the print file for Healing Stones and other books I plan to upload in the future.

The problem? Embedding Fonts.

My Lulu History

To understand my problem, we have to go back to the beginning when I uploaded my first interior file to Lulu. This was about two years ago. Back then, I did as instructed and saved the file in PDF. However, Lulu rejected every PDF for the interior that I tried to upload. I tried to figure out why but couldn’t.

Reading further, I saw they also accepted .docx files, so I uploaded my formatted book in the MS Word document file I had originally created. SUCCESS. Lulu accepted the file, and I never looked back. From then on, I always uploaded a .docx instead of a PDF.

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Comparing Print Times of KDP Print and Lulu

In May, I was working on the print version of Healing Stones, book 4 in the Castle Keepers series, and encountered issues at both Lulu and KDP Print. Here are the details of the challenge of getting a print copy in my hand. I had already ordered a single proof from Lulu in March, examined it and made corrections/changes to the file and sought to get a second proof.

Changes at Lulu

Lulu did a major overhaul of their website in April. They claimed it was more user friendly and much easier to publish and print books using their new tools and design.

I first learned about these changes in early May from the writer friend who had introduced me to Lulu a few years ago. She has used the company as her printer for several years and loved working with them.

However, on the day she called, the honeymoon was over, and she was having a heck of a time getting her current project uploaded and accepted for printing. We tried several options, then she decided it was time to give KDP Print a try because she could sell her books directly from this vendor to readers at Amazon and cut out the middleman (Lulu).

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Review of Lulu’s Printing Service

With this ever-changing publishing world, it’s good to explore other options before the need arises. I feel this way about paperback printing services now that CreateSpace seems to be going the way of the megafauna. Before Amazon Print scuttles the boat (read Amazon’s New KDP Print Feature is Bad News for CreateSpace Users), I want my books settled on solid ground at another printer, so I can still get copies with short notice.

At a friend’s recommendation, I tried the printing services of Lulu. She had printed several of her books using their service. She showed me samples, and the quality was good. I uploaded a book and ordered a copy to see how easy it was and to compare it with the quality from CreateSpace.

Lulu accepted interior files created with CreateSpace’s template, so I didn’t have to redo the book to order the sample. I later learned they accept InDesign files, too, as I assumed they would.

Since this was a new program for me, there were a few stumbles, but overall the process wasn’t too difficult. Ordering copies was easy. The benefit of Lulu is they accept PayPal. This is excellent for everyone who doesn’t have a credit card.

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