Here’s this week’s update to The Second Mouse Goes Digital. In Chapter 9, “Choosing the Right Production Company,” I discussed the two most widely-used and trusted print-on-demand companies, Create Space and Lightning Source. I also announced the recent appearance of two additional resources:
Since my book came out, I have discovered that there are actually several new hybrid publishers who offer the same service—hard-cover format at prices that independent writers can afford. The question, of course is whether they can deliver on their promises.
Recently, I had occasion to evaluate one of these new hardbound volumes from an unidentified publishing company and found it lacking in many respects. A hard-cover volume from a traditional publisher will have a stiff casing covered in cloth, with an additional cloth strip covering the spine and an inch or so of both the front and back covers. The title of the book is stamped onto the spine, often in metallic lettering or other forms of embossing. Then a paper book jacket protects the book. The front cover of the jacket will contain a well-thought-out cover design, with additional material on the back cover. The ample jacket flaps will provide a short synopsis, or perhaps a biographical sketch of the author. Many variations exist, but all give an impression of high quality.
The hybrid book I examined was lacking in every respect. From the first touch, I realized that this “hardbound cover” had been done on a budget. It was paper, not cloth, and it reminded me of the kind of cheap textbooks I used in grade school. The colors were garish and inappropriate for the subject matter. The book’s black spine did not align with the printed illustration, so that there was a crooked line of color running down one edge of the spine. The corners of the paper cover were not glued completely over the cardboard backing, so that they soon worked loose, leaving sharp little folds that caught on my sleeve as I held the book. The binding itself was so tight that I had to fight to keep the book open, and the binding had failed to catch the first several pages. They threatened to fall out eventually.
The Second Mouse now encourages anyone considering using one of these hybrid presses to provide hardbound copies to proceed with caution. I would ask to see samples of their work before making a commitment. As in most other cases, you get only what you pay for.