The test copies of Driftwood arrived from Lulu …

I’ve already decided to print most of the books with a “real” printer (and it’s those books that you will get if you pre-order now!), but I’ll make a print-on-demand edition, too, which might be good for readers in Oceania and the Americas, since Lulu Books has local printing facilities in the US, Europe and Australia.
With Lulu you can also get distribution through Amazon, so that they print and ship the books and you don’t have to do anything, and that’s another plus for my lazy self.

Lulu only makes standard sized books. I made test copies of “US Trade” (6×7 inch) books in paperback and hardcover, as well as “Crown Quarto” books (about the same format as Cerebus books). They all have shiny covers, which is a bit annoying, but there is no way to avoid it with Lulu.

The one that looks best/almost worthwile is the hardcover book. (Apologies for the crappy camera phone photos in this post …)

Also, the hardcover is the only edition of Driftwood so far where any printer has managed to center the spine. (On the Swedish edition and both of the two softcovers from Lulu, the spine is off center.) Congrats to the hardcover binders!!!!! V^(oo)^V ♥

As you can see above, the front cover is not positioned very well. That’s because Lulu’s “cover designer” is a bit frustrating, and only now that I have the actual books in front of me I can tell where the front and back cover designs need to be centered. For some reason they won’t tell you all the necessary measurements on the site. And the preview image is so small that you can’t really see anything …

Also, the covers are printed in pretty low resolution, and I’ll have to remove, or modify the colours of, some elements that have much too fine lines.

Anyway, the biggest problem is their 90g paper. It’s extremely thin and transparent:

The US Trade paperbacks are all printed on cream coloured paper, but that one is just as transparent. And perhaps Driftwood looks somehow crappier on this yellowish cream paper, maybe because of the colours of the cover.

What makes the hardcover worthwhile in spite of the crappy paper is that it’s a hardcover, so it looks nice and feels durable. It opens up easily enough so you can read the pages properly. (The spine is glued, though, not sewn.) Also, it doesn’t feel as disappointingly thin for a 400 page book as the softcovers. :op

Of course, Lulu seems to be notoriously careless at handling the books, and some scratches and bumped corners are almost mandatory.

The Cerebus sized softcover is by all means nice because it’s the same format as Cerebus because it’s a bigger format, and its more square dimensions fit the format of the comic better. But it’s “only” 4.29 € less expensive to make than the hardcover (12.55 vs. 16.84 € for one copy – of course, that’s all quite a lot compared to non-POD printers X_x), while the softcover makes it feel a bit cheap, and the spine creases easily.

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P.S. I’m printing most of the books with Pozkal in Poland. They do digital printing for small editions (like my 100-300 copies), custom format, some choice in paper, with quite affordable prices. But if you only ever need a dozen or so copies for yourself, and want to sell your books mainly online, Lulu might be a better option (as long as you’re okay with their paper). Among POD services they are not bad at all. (I personally just have pretty high demands because I work with comics publishing companies and I’m a perfectionist …)

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