Cover of Volume One

My assumptions were wrong. I ordered one copy each (of a letter-sized Print on Demand volume of Lor’Avvu Volume One) from Lulu and IngramSpark. I sent the exact same 226-page interior, and I sent almost identical covers to each company’s desired hard-cover template. I was surprised to find:

  1. The text is surprisingly legible in both cases, bucking my expectation that anything less than Tabloid size would be too tiny to enjoy.
  2. Lulu’s premium color quality appears to have richer black and sharper white compared with IngramSpark’s premium color quality.
  3. Lulu delivered fast, despite comparable shipping cost.
  4. IngramSpark quality is awesome considering the low cost of production.

Lulu was more expensive by a significant amount: $50.72 (this includes shipping). IngramSpark waived the 49-dollar setup fee in December but to print and ship the book in many locations in the USA is only about: $35.35 total (give or take some cents).

Lulu delivered an impressive product in only 2 weeks. IngramSpark delivered the less striking (but still faithful in color) product in about one month. Ingram’s production time and costs are set to increase even more, soon.

Key Differences

The cover colors of IngramSpark, for better or worse, are more saturated. This can result in a higher sense of contrast. Yet strangely, this only applies to the matte hard cover exterior I ordered. The interior, where the story takes place, appears lighter. In addition, IngramSpark added a totally white end page to the front and three totally white end pages at the back of the book. This disrupted my simulated end page, but it’s a minor complaint. Ingram’s premium color looks like it’s a matte finish. The grain of the paper is noticeable and feels more fluffy and comfortable than Lulu’s paper.

The glossy Lulu book is much more professional, and the gloss of the paper rather than being offensive somehow makes things more visible. The black in Ingram is not deep, but on Lulu, it’s awesome and solid. I would confidently print an entirely black page with Lulu’s premium color. The white contrast in Ingram, particularly in subtle whites, is marginally worse, though that’s not as offensive as Ingram’s blacks appearing like an 80% gray. Ingram’s colors gives my graphics a lightweight “printed notebook” appearance, with even occasional streaks (incomplete ink lay) that I remember seeing in Lulu stuff of about ten years ago. I expected Lulu to still be poor quality, but it turns out Lulu’s premium color option is impressive.

IngramSpark POD premium color hard cover

Color quality: Fair
Detail fidelity: Good
Paper quality: Excellent
Customization choices: Low (paper choice is ignored)
Price: Good (Almost reasonable asking price for sale of books)
Speed: Fair (Expect over 30 days after order for delivery)
While sort of pleasing to the eye by default, Ingram’s deft touch with color does not give off a strong appearance. Best for soft images with low contrast. Unforgivably distracting streaks in black are rare, but a danger.

Lulu POD premium color hard cover

Color quality: Excellent
Detail fidelity: Good
Paper quality: Good
Customization choices: Okay (some minor paper choice)
Price: Poor (Unreasonable asking price for sale of books)
Speed: Excellent
Use Lulu to see what your book may look like in a run of high quality web press books. For books/imprints that wish to see profit, it may be challenging to determine the “profit margin.”


I am happy to say that I have confidently offered the sale of the IngramSpark version of Lor’Avvu Volume One to friends and family for only the cost of production and shipping. I think $36 or so (closer to $46 for shipping overseas) is a reasonable asking price for a product that shows off the color of the story on a nice texture.

In the future, should a Tabloid version of the book be expected, I know that I can really show off the colors with panache given printing quality is up to snuff. And in that case, I would set out to make the unit cost match the unit itself, through crowdsourcing. For example, at the moment I think $50 is a reasonable store price tag for a 226-page full color Tabloid-sized volume with better production cost per unit.

If you are interested in owning a copy of the Lulu edition, I have made that not-for-profit version available in my shop for only the cost of production, shipping and handling: Lor’Avvu Volume One: Letter Edition

If you are interested in owning a copy of the IngramSpark edition, just let me know. I will need the shipping address so I can provide the quote, and then I will need to receive payment to order the production. It is IngramSpark’s POD, however, so please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.