Review: Is the KDP Print-on-Demand Service Worth Using?

As a beginner in self-publishing, I was very apprehensive about Amazon’s KDP and its print-on-demand service. After all, this was my first book and I wanted it to look nice. So, how was my experience with PoD and the paperback version of my book?

Actually, it went a lot better than I had imagined. Then again, I was quite skeptical of Kindle Direct Publishing and printing a book at the beginning, which meant it wouldn’t take much to surprise me.

In any case, I found the process quick, easy, and the books themselves looked pretty good, all things considered.

Grammarly Grammar Checker

What is the Amazon KDP Print-on-Demand Service?

When submitting your book to Kindle Direct Publishing, you have the option to sell printed versions of your manuscript. This isn’t mandatory, as a lot of your readers are most likely going to buy the eBook version.

Nonetheless, you’re able to print copies for yourself as the author or sell them directly from Amazon.

The company uses print-on-demand platforms to produce your book. This means that your book is printed and put together when someone makes a purchase. Technically, two copies are printed from Amazon in order to keep one in stock.

The biggest difference between printing a book on-demand and traditional printing presses is cost. Not everyone has several thousand dollars to print out a large volume of books.

Print-on-demand services from KDP allow you to produce a paperback or hardcover one at a time but usually cost just a bit more than if you were to print them in quantity.

For instance, the paperback version of my book cost just under $3 to print.

What Can You Expect from Print-on-Demand and KDP?

While you might be keen on just producing eBooks, there’s nothing wrong with offering the paperback or hardcover version of your novel. For me, it’s a reminder and motivator to do more every time I look at my bookshelf.

So, is KDP worth using to generate printed copies of your book?

No Page Bleed or Color Mixing

Beautifully Printed

When I produced A Freelancer’s Tale, I was exceptionally worried about the typeface quality and cover. I’ve had bad experiences in the past with printed elements bleeding, running, and mixing colors.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by just how well the KDP-printed books came out. They had an exceptionally professional appearance in terms of print, and it was a huge relief off my shoulders.

Binding Was Well-Crafted

Another element of printing I was concerned with was the binding itself. I’ve seen some terrible glue jobs to keep the pages together with the cover.

Luckily, that wasn’t the case with Amazon. In fact, the binding came out far better than I could possibly imagine. Between the binding and the printed pages, it looks like a professional book.

If not for the fact that a publisher doesn’t have a logo on the cover, it would be nearly impossible to tell that it was self-published.

The Matte Cover Feels Amazing!

I opted to use the matte cover for the book, and I can say that it feels incredible. The cover has an almost velvety feel and it did my first book justice.

Though I think with my next book, I’m going to test out the gloss cover and see how well it comes out. If it’s even half as good as the matte, I’m sure I’ll be ecstatic.

At any rate, I was very pleased with the matte finish and hope they all come out as good as the copies I bought for myself.

Not as Expensive as I Thought it Would Be

After exploring other print-on-demand services, I was worried that using KDP would cut into my royalties. However, I found that Amazon has one of the cheapest costs for PoD.

Right now, it would only cost me $2.61 per book to order author copies. This is also the cost to print when someone buys the book through Amazon’s marketplace. Of course, you set your prices and share the sale with Amazon.

Still, the cost to print the book was much lower than a lot of places I’ve explored.

Cover Graphic Wasn’t Always Centered

KDP Print-on-Demand Mistake
Not all books were off, though.

The only real drawback to the printing job itself is how the graphic for the cover wasn’t always centered. I know this as I’ve compared various copies of the book, not to mention the opaque box I put on the back cover to offset the white text on a lighter background.

Out of the 10 author copies I received, only two were a bit off. Unless you know what you’re looking for, though, you might not even notice. Even with the off-center graphics, the books came out great.

KDP’s Cover Creator is a Bit…Wonky

The eBook version of my book uses the cover I created in Cavna…which I thought was superior. However, I had to use the Cover Creator from KDP for the paperback version.

What can I say about Cover Creator? It’s a lacking tool when compared to Canva or Photoshop.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still able to get a decent cover from KDP for the print-on-demand books. However, the tool itself takes a lot of getting used to. It handles like a shopping cart with a broken wheel.

Next time, I’ll simply do the entire graphic in Canva.

Wicked Fast Shipping

I assumed that, because of the printing process, I wouldn’t receive a copy of my book for quite some time. I was blown away when it came in the mail within three days. My friend bought a copy immediately after me and got hers within two.

From printing to shipping, it was an incredibly fast delivery.

This is another reason why I was skeptical at first. I didn’t think a quality product could be created and shipped in such short order. I’m glad I was wrong because I loved the book.

I guess that’s a testament to Amazon’s commitment to fast delivery. Though, it does make me feel a bit bad for the drivers. But that’s a story for another time.

Overall Professional Look!

My Book

Aside from just a few issues, I thought the books themselves came out very professional. From the cover print to the text on the pages themselves, I am very satisfied with what I received.

Now, this is important because you don’t want readers to get ahold of a bad printed copy. It could detract from the experience, which could make it incredibly more difficult to sell more books to that same person later on.

I can say that I was very surprised and glad that Amazon seemed to put quite a bit of effort in the printing process.

ProWritingAid

How Much Does it Cost to Print-on-Demand from KDP?

Amazon has a bit of a convoluted pricing scheme when it comes to printing books. They have both a fixed cost for smaller books and an additional per-page cost for larger novels.

The cost of your book also depends on whether you have color pages or not, which could get quite expensive the more pages you have.

So, let’s say you have a 250-page horror novel ready for print with black text on white pages. The cost would be about $3.85 per unit ($0.85 per book + $0.012 per page).

Now, that’s the price I would pay here in the States. Other regions will have varying costs. If you’re curious as to how much your book would cost, take a look at Amazon’s print-on-demand pricing.

If you want to sell printed copies of your book, compare KDP with other platforms that are available. In my experience, Amazon is definitely among the cheapest. And with the great quality of the book, it’s definitely worth considering.

Will I Continue to Use Print-on-Demand from KDP?

I was nervous enough publishing my first book. Although I was sweating a bit while waiting for the first printed copy to arrive, I’m glad it wasn’t a disappointment.

While the anal perfectionist in me is still a bit perturbed that the graphics are not always centered, the realist in me still thinks the books came out quite nicely.

Because I plan on publishing quite a few more books in the future, I’ll definitely make use of Kindle Direct Publishing and its printing service. Next time, however, I plan on releasing some hardcover books.

So, I’ll more than likely update this post once the hardcovers come in. But first I need to finish writing my second book.

In any case, yes, due to the books I’ve bought through KDP and the print-on-demand service, I’ll definitely keep using them. At least until they try to cut costs and produce a crappy product.

Never underestimate the nature of capitalism and cutting corners to make a profit.

Grammarly Grammar Checker

I Was Quite Delighted with My Copies – Ish

As I said, the only true disappointment was the cover’s graphic not always being centered correctly. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker as you would have to know precisely what to look for. The average customer probably won’t even be able to tell the difference.

All-in-all, it was a very easy setup (not counting Cover Creator) and I had my first book in my hands within three days.

What print-on-demand services have you tried in the past?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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