So, I went and dug around in the numbers for Lulu and Lightning Source to get an idea of how the two POD providers stack up against one another. As I suspected, past a certain number of copies in almost every scenario, Lightning Source wins out in the long run. But if you’re looking to print and sell no more than, say, 50-100 total, lifetime, ever, Lulu may be more worth your time because it’s so damned easy to get an account set up and started printing. LS definitely has some “set-up phase” hassles that won’t be worth it even when the costs are better, early on, and the set-up costs on a job can run as much as a couple hundred bucks (easily, when you consider that — at least near as I could tell last time I used ‘em — Lightning Source wants you to bring some ISBNs to the party).
At this point, there’s very little reason for me not to go with Lightning Source because I don’t expect to sell fewer than 200 copies of about anything, and that’s well past the value vs. annoyance threshold from where I stand.
I’ve put together a spreadsheet that does the cost comparisons on this, which can be pretty nice for figuring out what a job will cost you to get going. I’m happy to share it with anyone who emails me and asks for it, but right at the moment I don’t want to publish the spreadsheet because I’m unsure if it’d be shaky-ground territory to do so; I don’t think you can get at Lightning Source’s print-costs numbers easily without already having an account set up with them.