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Thread: [Printer] Lightning Source

  1. #1
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    [Printer] Lightning Source

    Repost:
    06-15-2006, 05:46 PM
    redplum
    Esteemed New Member

    Niche non-fiction publishing start-up seeks advice on LSI/printing

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Hi, folks! I've read many, many threads about the POD world, but none that *quite* deal with my question. Please do forgive me if I'm inadvertently repeating information found elsewhere.

    My situation: I edit a popular online trade magazine. We publish non-fiction articles, and have a pretty substantial reader base. Our creative director is also a well-known expert in the field and has an established platform, including regular speaking engagements and several popular books published through a traditional publisher. I also edit technical and business books as a freelancer for a good-sized publishing house.

    We are in the process of planning an expansion from online magazine publishing to (print) book publishing in the same professional niche. (We'll be publishing shorter and more narrowly focused books than the big houses in our field tend to publish, and I believe that we have the platform required to succeed.) We already work with authors, book designers / compositors, copyeditors, and proofreaders, and we're not complete dunderheads when it comes to business. Readers in our niche are used to paying prices that seem excessive to me (quite a bit pricier than fiction), so we won't be at quite as much of a price disadvantage as some.

    My question(s): I am researching LSI (Lightning Source) now. Do those of you who've worked with LSI have any particular cautions or suggestions for us as we begin this process? We'd prefer to deal with fulfillment as little as possible (we're running three other branches of this business), and we'd obviously prefer to avoid warehousing, so POD appeals to us as a start-up option.

    The collective brain here at AW is pretty astonishing, so I wanted to throw myself on your mercy before I started talking to actual sales reps at LIS or elsewhere. Anyone want to warn me about specific pitfalls I may have overlooked?

    Many thanks,

    Erin
    06-16-2006, 01:22 PM
    judithmoose
    Esteemed New Member

    I started out using Lightning Source but am now with three different printers as I have yet to find one that can supply everything needed in my authors' books. Of the three, Lightning Source definitely has the fastest turnaround time but the quality on photographic material isn't up to par. I've had books that are predominently photographic that when they're delivered look as if someone ran out of ink halfway through the printing process. That was why I started scouting for additional print houses. That said, if you're looking for speed then Lightning Source is the winner. If you're looking for photo quality try Net Publications in Poughkeepsie, New York. Their setup fees are extremely reasonable and their pricing is very competitive. The only drawback is that it takes about four weeks to get anything done.

    Hope this helps and that you have a wonderful weekend!
    06-17-2006, 11:27 AM
    redplum
    Esteemed New Member

    Thanks, judithmoose, that's good to know. Has LSI been OK for black and white text printing for you, or have you seen quality problems with that as well?

    Happy rest of weekend!
    Erin
    06-17-2006, 03:30 PM
    Medievalist
    Dawnolite Bovine Admiration

    I've used LSI for computer documentation, and they've been fine. You do have to know something about printing and paper stock, and naturally, the typesetting and design are crucial. They print what you send, so do a rough print first, and do talk to them about what your needs are.
    __________________
    Lisa L. Spangenberg | Digital Medievalist
    06-17-2006, 06:44 PM
    judithmoose
    Esteemed New Member

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by redplum
    Thanks, judithmoose, that's good to know. Has LSI been OK for black and white text printing for you, or have you seen quality problems with that as well?

    Happy rest of weekend!
    Erin
    Hi Erin,

    Black and white text printing is absolutely fine. The paper is a little thin but that's about the only complaint I have with the straight text material.

    All the best,
    Judith
    ICAO
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    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
    I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage. -- Charles DeSecondat

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  2. #2
    figuring it all out nancyadams's Avatar
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    Lightning Source

    Lightening Source--still good?

    Nancy
    *Just when I think I have made it, the ground slips.

  3. #3
    Resident Curmudgeon Requiescat In Pace ResearchGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancyadams View Post
    Lightening Source--still good?

    Nancy
    That depends entirely on your purposes.

    --Ken
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  4. #4
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Directly or indirectly a lot of places use Lightning Source, but as stated it depends on a few things like your ability to create a print-ready manuscript without assistance.
    Emily Veinglory

  5. #5
    figuring it all out nancyadams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    Directly or indirectly a lot of places use Lightning Source, but as stated it depends on a few things like your ability to create a print-ready manuscript without assistance.
    Well, I have Indesign, and am hoping I can learn to use it, as I am prepared to do what it takes. But I keep wondering if Lightening Source is my best bet. When I compared the prices to Lulu, they are better. They also appear to have a good reputation.

    I have sent quotes to many POD businesses. There prices are all over the map. Some are even cheaper than Lightening Source. But as we all know, "cheaper" doesn't always equal better. But who's to know. So I'm forced to listen to others recommendations.

    I also wonder about Wing Span Press, which I have just discovered. It "appears" they do some of the work for you?? The prices look good for individual books, and I'm unclear what is going on when they say you will get 20% of the retail price. I need to call them and see what is going on.

    Any comments appreciated.

    Nancy
    *Just when I think I have made it, the ground slips.

  6. #6
    Resident Curmudgeon Requiescat In Pace ResearchGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancyadams View Post
    . . . Any comments appreciated.

    Nancy
    If you have not already done so (and it appears not) buy and read Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual (currently in 15th edition). Also spend time with Poynter's website, http://www.parapublishing.com/sites/para/. You might also do well to join a local group of self-publishers/independent publishers associated with one or both of:

    Publishers Marketing Association

    or
    Small Publishers Association of North America


    --Ken
    [URL="http://www.umbachconsulting.com/KenCV.htm"][FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][COLOR=royalblue]ResearchGuy[/COLOR][/FONT][/URL]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][/FONT]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][I][URL="http://www.umbachconsulting.com/pursuit.pdf"]The Pursuit of Publishing: An Unvarnished Guide for the Perplexed[/URL][/I]

    [/FONT][URL="http://www.amazon.com/Theres-Street-Colorful-Origins-Sparks/dp/1937123073/"][FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][I]There's No Lake on Lake Street![/I] by James D. Umbach[/FONT][/URL]
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  7. #7
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Lulu prints with Lightning Source--they add services to it.
    Emily Veinglory

  8. #8
    This hat is getting too hot Chumplet's Avatar
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    The Wild Rose Press's print releases are currently produced by Lightning Source. I ordered my author copies last week and they should arrive in a few days, barring any Customs delays. I'll let you know what the quality is like.

    Have you visited their website?

  9. #9
    figuring it all out nancyadams's Avatar
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    Tsk Tsk. I have in fact, just finished reading Poynter's book. lol. But remember: it's a LOT of into to digest when you haven't done this before, and I'm still working on digesting it...plus looking into printers and POD publishers. I'm frankly AMAZED at the work it will take to self-publish, and it appears Lightning Source will be helpful. But it's daunting, especially when I am totally unfamiliar with Indesign or Quark. So I think I can do it, but...I'm tempted by places like WingSpan Press, who will do "some" of the work for you.

    Nancy

    Quote Originally Posted by ResearchGuy View Post
    If you have not already done so (and it appears not) buy and read Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual (currently in 15th edition). Also spend time with Poynter's website, http://www.parapublishing.com/sites/para/. You might also do well to join a local group of self-publishers/independent publishers associated with one or both of:

    Publishers Marketing Association

    or
    Small Publishers Association of North America


    --Ken
    *Just when I think I have made it, the ground slips.

  10. #10
    figuring it all out nancyadams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    Lulu prints with Lightning Source--they add services to it.
    Thanks. That also pretty well describes WingSpan, too, which I finally figured out today by examining their website. It's just TEMPTING to use someone like Lulu or Wingspan rather than do it all yourself. I'm not yet crossing out Lightning Press...but am tempted to. I'm giving myself a week to decide.

    Nancy
    *Just when I think I have made it, the ground slips.

  11. #11
    Resident Curmudgeon Requiescat In Pace ResearchGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancyadams View Post
    . . . But it's daunting, especially when I am totally unfamiliar with Indesign or Quark. . . .
    Are you writing a highly complex or technical book?

    For text and maybe some illustrations, MS Word actually works pretty well in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. I have designed books running to as much as 200,000 words with it (but no illustrations other than an author photo), and some much shorter ones with many illustrations (graphs and charts, mostly), all in Word. But if you are writing a technical manual or a scientific book, or aspire to match the standards of a large commercial publisher, then a heavy-duty program would be appropriate (FrameMaker is the one my tech-communicator friends use for books).

    There are other points to consider with Lightning Source, of course, reflecting how it does business. (Not a negative comment there -- just a caution that its business model does not work like, say, Lulu or any of the subsidy presses.) And if you intend to buy an initial print run of a couple hundred or more, then a short-run printer probably makes more sense anyway. (Alexander's Print Advantage comes highly recommended.)

    Anyway . . . might it not be much more feasible to pay someone to lay out your text--to design your book's interior?

    --Ken
    [URL="http://www.umbachconsulting.com/KenCV.htm"][FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][COLOR=royalblue]ResearchGuy[/COLOR][/FONT][/URL]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][/FONT]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][I][URL="http://www.umbachconsulting.com/pursuit.pdf"]The Pursuit of Publishing: An Unvarnished Guide for the Perplexed[/URL][/I]

    [/FONT][URL="http://www.amazon.com/Theres-Street-Colorful-Origins-Sparks/dp/1937123073/"][FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][I]There's No Lake on Lake Street![/I] by James D. Umbach[/FONT][/URL]
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  12. #12
    figuring it all out nancyadams's Avatar
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    It's a book based with a lay medical slant--not highly complex or technical, but filled with some good information. I'd rather use Word, but Lightning Source made it clear to me that I needed to use Quark or InDesign and Adobe PDF...as if any others don't work as well in the transfer. Really, I'd love to do it all myself and save the money. But the exchange is that it's going to take a lot of time, learning software I'm not familiar with, and the risk of doing it all alone..unless I hire a VA. I'll go check out Alexanders. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by ResearchGuy View Post
    Are you writing a highly complex or technical book?

    For text and maybe some illustrations, MS Word actually works pretty well in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. I have designed books running to as much as 200,000 words with it (but no illustrations other than an author photo), and some much shorter ones with many illustrations (graphs and charts, mostly), all in Word. But if you are writing a technical manual or a scientific book, or aspire to match the standards of a large commercial publisher, then a heavy-duty program would be appropriate (FrameMaker is the one my tech-communicator friends use for books).

    There are other points to consider with Lightning Source, of course, reflecting how it does business. (Not a negative comment there -- just a caution that its business model does not work like, say, Lulu or any of the subsidy presses.) And if you intend to buy an initial print run of a couple hundred or more, then a short-run printer probably makes more sense anyway. (Alexander's Print Advantage comes highly recommended.)

    Anyway . . . might it not be much more feasible to pay someone to lay out your text--to design your book's interior?

    --Ken
    *Just when I think I have made it, the ground slips.

  13. #13
    Now departed. Rest in peace, Scott, from all of us at AW Requiescat In Pace Popeyesays's Avatar
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    You might consider contacting a local two-year college to see if one of their desk-top publishing classes needs a project, it certainly would not hurt to do so and any costs should be negligible compared to hiring a professional typesetter.

    Regards,

    Scott
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  14. #14
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    With self-publishing you'll either need to a) learn to do every task yourself at a professional level, or b) hire a professional to do every task.

    Lightning Source is a printer. If the sort of printing they do is the sort of printing you need, they're fine. If not, not.

  15. #15
    figuring it all out nancyadams's Avatar
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    What an interesting idea you have there!! I will try that! Thanks. Nancy

    Quote Originally Posted by Popeyesays View Post
    You might consider contacting a local two-year college to see if one of their desk-top publishing classes needs a project, it certainly would not hurt to do so and any costs should be negligible compared to hiring a professional typesetter.

    Regards,

    Scott
    *Just when I think I have made it, the ground slips.

  16. #16
    Commonsensical Maverick scope's Avatar
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    Lightning Source

    I read the following stats today on the Shelf Awareness daily web page. Kind of surprising, at least to me.

    Lightning Source has more than 650,000 titles in it's digital library.
    In a little over 10 years they have printed over 60 million books.
    Average run is about 1.8 copies!
    Last edited by scope; 12-18-2008 at 12:22 AM.

  17. #17
    Researching History's Mysteries HistorySleuth's Avatar
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    Lightning Source

    I'm new to the board. Trying to find the ins and outs of all these different publishers. Very handy. I was reading another post that said LuLu and some others use LS and to go to the source to cut out the middle man. A good idea I thought so I went to their web site and it had a special link for authors. It does not seem you can use LS directly but have to go through their "Author Services". I was surprised how many there were. So this could account for their high stats.So it seems that most of these POD's use the same place, being Lightning Source.
    So is the point to get the right POD "Publisher" for the options you want, as the majority seem to use the same printing place??
    Here is the list of Lightning Source's "Author Services"
    US

    * 1st World Publishing

    * AmericanAuthor

    * AuthorHouse

    * Aventine Press

    * Black Forest Press

    * Booklocker.com, Inc

    * BookPublisher.com

    * Cold Tree Press

    * Desktop Miracles

    * Dog Ear Publishing

    * Elderberry Press, Inc

    * First Books

    * HelpPUBLISH.com

    * Infinity Publishing

    * iUniverse

    * Llumina Press

    * LuLu

    * Magic Graphix

    * Morgan James Publishing, LLC

    * Nightengale Press

    * Outskirts Press

    * PageFree Publishing, Inc.

    * Publish America

    * SelfPublishing.com

    * Tabby House

    * Trafford Publishing

    * Universal Publishers

    * Unlimited Publishing

    * Virtualbookworm.com

    * WinePress Publishing

    * WingSpan Publishing

    * Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Inc.

    * Xlibris

    * Xulon Press

  18. #18
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    For self-publishing, you sign with Lightning Source as a publisher, not as an author. https://www.lightningsource.com/new_client.aspx
    ICAO
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    Achievers strive for excellence. Perfectionists drive themselves to extinction. -- A Grapple A Day
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  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by HistorySleuth View Post
    So is the point to get the right POD "Publisher" for the options you want, as the majority seem to use the same printing place??
    The key is distribution. With LSI you get distribution through its parent company, Ingram. LSI books go up on Powells.com and can also be ordered from any bookstore that can get books from Ingram. That is not to say they'll print a bunch and get 'em to the stores. But, they're available. Go through LSI and BookSurge (just to get on Amazon.com).
    I am a freelance editor and book designer.

  20. #20
    Researching History's Mysteries HistorySleuth's Avatar
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    Lightning Source

    Thanks for the tips!

  21. #21
    Hi
    We're new here, too.
    But not so new to LSI and POD.

    There is a lot of confusion surrounding those inititals. LSI is a printer. They just use toner based technology, instead of ink. The list above are not "services" of LSI, but rather clients that use it to print their books. Anybody can set up a press, get an account with LSI, acquire ISBN numbers and put out books.

    LSI is virtually the ONLY POD press. There is a much smaller one called "Paw Prints" that includes Whiskey Creek Press among their clients. There is Book Surge, a vastly inferior operation now owned by Amazon.com and subject of many rants concerning amazon's attempts to force people to use it.

    If your book is published on LSI, it will be distributed buy Ingram. Which means it will be on amazon and Barnes and Noble and about any online bookseller you can think of.

    The cheapest, easiest way to access LSI is through Lulu.com, as so many have done.
    It would be interesting to know how many of the books in the OP are lulu books. The vast majority, perhaps.
    Going directly to LSI saves a lot of money on book costs, but has a learning curve.
    In the United States, there is an additional cost for ISBN numbers, which tends to make lulu more attractive for many purposes.
    Most Commonwealth countries provide ISBN numbers free.

    (Most interesting in the OP figures is the average run of 1.8. Remarkable. When you consider than many LSI books sell in the thousands, it means that the sweeping majority of their accounts publish either one book or none.)

  22. #22
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adoro Book Works View Post
    If your book is published on LSI, it will be distributed buy Ingram. Which means it will be on amazon and Barnes and Noble and about any online bookseller you can think of.
    It won't be on Amazon, unless you use the Advantage program to send the books to Amazon yourself. Amazon will carry only POD books printed by BookSurge.

    - Victoria

  23. #23
    practical experience, FTW cpickett's Avatar
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    Just to clarify- LSI is a printer, they are not a publisher. As mentioned, if you as an individual want to utilize their services, you'd set up a biz entity for yourself.

    The other companies mentioned use LSI for printing, but could use whoever they wanted or even do the same thing themselves if they had the money for equipment. Also, there are a ton of printers who use the same technology (digital printing) and many traditional publishers of all sizes use these printers every day for various reasons.

    With regard to figuring out the ins and outs Historysleuth, many of the companies you list work in similar fashion, but not all. For example, Morgan James, Publish America and Booklocker have very different biz models. Yes, they utilize POD, but again, that's just one production method.

    Feel free to contact me through my site if you want to chat about any that you are looking into specifically and we can try to narrow things down for you.
    Cheryl Pickett

    Author of Publishing Possibilities: 8 Steps to Understanding Your Options & Choosing the Best Path for Your Book

    http://publishinganswers.com

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'm new to the self-publishing and this forum, and spent the last day reading about Lightning Source. Wonder if anyone could help clarify:

    1. Amazon will only put the "BUY" option on POD books produced by BookSurge? If so, then if I use Lightning Source, I'll need to use Amazon Advantage (which takes 55 percent discount, basically eating my profit margin, yeah?)

    2. I'm looking at different distributions methods using Lightning Source. Will Lightning Source ship one book directly to one customer for me? Is this "drop shipping?" And anyone have any idea how much the cost of that S&H is?

    Thanks for helping out!
    Christopher Ming Lee

    I do what I want, despite what people with the best and worst intentions tell me. Apparently, you're a fish in a barrel in the literary world if you choose to self-publish. So I think that's what I'm going to do next. I'm also investing in a restaurant, and I wait tables on the side for my spending monies. I just got back from Argentina, and this is my new adventure.

    www.chrisminglee.com

  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW cpickett's Avatar
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    Hi Christopher,
    I just did a bunch of research yesterday with regard to your questions. Short answer is Amazon is still selling books from many of the other fee-based/POD publishers listed previously and also through other publishers associated with Ingram.

    LSI will drop ship to an individual customer, cost is a buck or two per order sent. However, very important to note, if you take a direct order on your site for example, you need to manually enter the shipping info to LSI. It is not automatic.

    Hope that helps.
    Cheryl Pickett

    Author of Publishing Possibilities: 8 Steps to Understanding Your Options & Choosing the Best Path for Your Book

    http://publishinganswers.com

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