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Lightning Source

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Lightning Source was founded in 1997 and is the largest printer of books in the world, having printed over 100 million books for nearly 25,000 publishers (including many on this website). They have printing facilities in various parts of the world, but are headquartered in Tennessee (USA). The company has printing capabilities for most standard sizes in paperback and hardcover formats; however, they do not handle special trim sizes, inks, inserts, or other options. Quantities start at a single copy via print-on-demand and 750 (hardcover) and 2,000 (paperback) via offset press. Although Lightning Source is first and foremost a book printer, they do offer some publishing services. Authors must form a publishing identity, however, to be a client. For more information, go to www.LightningSource.com.

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1 review of Lightning Source

  • 21 / 21 found this review helpful.
    Value for Cost
    Customer Support
    Publishing Process
    Final Product

    Lightningsource is the wholesaler for most of the Print on Demand self publishing companies. It is owned by Ingram and links directly to the book distribution network, both for retail bookstores and online services such as Amazon.com. This means you will pay the lowest prices for the actual printing services, and achieve complete distribution without middle-men markups.

    The catch: You are expected to know what you are doing in regards to editing, production, ISBN, and other details and you would need to set up as a business with appropriate tax id and other resources. Lightningsource will provide good client service if you know the basics and are set up as a publisher — for example, the company had no problem sending me published samples to review paper types and stocks.

    Since I’ve been publishing periodicals for quite a few years, these requirements didn’t pose a challenge. Our designer, following lightningsource specs, quickly uploads the necessary files and within a few days, our book is published. There’s a three month lag between sales and payment, so don’t expect to see cash right away, but as books sell through third parties such as Amazon, you’ll get the full wholesale price (you set the discount, but it is usually best to follow industry norms) less printing costs. Almost no upfront cash is needed as the setup fees are less than $50.

    This is the real deal if you know what you are doing and would like to get high quality 200 plus page books produced — and distributed — at a cost of less than $5.00 each, worldwide.

    (Customer support gets five stars for me, but as noted above, this is not a hand-holding service, so if you need to be told what to do every step of the way you will need to use other services.)

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