I was going to do this as a Twitter rant, but I thought of doing it here because this is one of the subjects I get asked often about print-on-demand. And it got too lengthy.
I think aside from the very first single issue of Wyliman back in 2006, I’ve done all my POD business with Ka-Blam. They’re reliable, their guidelines are super easy to follow and they have top notch customer service.
For years now, I’ve approached people (or they have approached me) about other similar services. I’ve heard about various companies, but the one that keeps coming up constantly is Create Space. Not only that, but about the same proportion I always hear a negative commentary about Ka-Blam (it works for me perfectly, but I can understand when people look for something different).
Anyway, for the first volume of Clink I decided to give Create Space a chance and see how it works.
Colossal waste of time.
Their information and specifications are there, but when it comes to comics, at least in my experience, they have no idea of what to do. Either that, or their file processing system is an absolute moron. Let me give you a little break down of my experience.
- Prepared PDF file after the specifications for a 5×8 size book and uploaded it.
- Their automated system points out that there’s an issue. When checked, the upper part of the pages don’t bleed far enough, so when trimming there might be an issue.
- Fixed, upload and check. Everything looks fine, and their automated system doesn’t point out any issues. Some things are a tad too close to the margin of the live area, but doesn’t cross. After all, this isn’t my first rodeo, I know it’ll work, so I don’t stress over it.
- I get notified that the files will be reviewed for further details.
- Go ahead and upload the covers.
- Recieved an e-mail some hours later. Covers file has an issue: the spine is a bit too extended to the sides, so it might wrap around the covers. Interior files are a-okay.
- Fix and upload. “Your files will be reviewed” thing again.
- Second e-mail. Cover files are okay now. But, turns out that the interiors weren’t actually okay after all. “The interior doesn’t have sufficient outside margins for printing, which could result in content being trimmed when printed.” Understandable. Kinda saw it coming.
- Fixed the files, gave them a bit more of breathing room. Adjust them back to 5×8 and upload.
- Opened their preview program. Nothing is centered. Everything is expanded and to the side.
- Go back, fix EVERYTHING again and upload.
- The first issue comes back. Upper part doesn’t bleed far enough outside. I have NOT changed the size of the files at all at any moment. All attempts have been 5×8. I’m losing it at this point.
- Fix, upload, check preview. I looks fine now. Wait again for the review on their side.
- Third e-mail:
- “The cover file meets our submission requirements; it is not necessary for you to make any revisions to this file or upload it again.” Good!
- “The images in the interior file extend to the edge(s) of the page. Full-bleed images should extend at least 0.125″ beyond the book’s trim line on the top, bottom and outer edges.” They already do! The stupid preview program showed it did!
- “Additionally, all text should be at least 0.25″ away from the book’s trim lines.” …What text? It’s pictures… all of them.
- “The cover contained spine text that has been removed. We cannot accommodate the inclusion of spine text for books with less than 101 pages as the text will likely wrap to the front or back cover.” The book is 118 pages long. You know this because that’s how many pages are contained within the PDF of the interiors. What the hell are you talking about?
- “The cover was not sized appropriately for the selected trim size.” But you just said, in the first line of this e-mail, that there were NO issue with the covers!
- Do a test PDF using their templates. Not picture based templates, mind you, but a word document template with no guides. Images are tiny and floating in the middle of the pages. Big blocky white borders. Upload it anyway.
- Only issue that the preview program detected: Images are RGB instead of CMYK.
- Hope everyone at Create Space spontaneously explodes infront of their whole families at Thanksgiving dinner.
So after the incredible 4 day joy of that adventure, I contact the people at Ka-Blam. Not only they were glad that I had something new to print with them, we worked it out so the books will be ready for a show I’m exhibiting at on the 25th of this month. I upload the files to them, get my invoice, pay for it. All in the lapse of 3 hours. Done.
So the lesson here kids is, other services might be better, but when you have excellent and friendly customer service, who will go above and beyond to help you out, and you’re NOT and absolute pain in the ass to work with, at least my money will go with you.
I won’t say don’t give Create Space a chance, but I’ll ALWAYS suggest Ka-Blam first.
Mario A. ~