I have written a book that I would like to get printed. I am not looking to have it published at this time but would like to get a limited number of copies (100-200) printed up for family and friends.

Are there any good companies out there that will help me get my book printed?

I have looked at Lulu.com and infinitypublishing.com but don't know whether either of these services will truly give me what I want without taking some rights to my work in the process.

8 Answers 8


If you use one Lulu or Infinity Publishing, you'll have self-published your book and lost your first publication rights. Definitely not a plus if you're planning on selling it to a publisher.

If you just wanted a couple copies printed, you can go to Kinkos or something like that to have it printed. Most online places I know of are self-publishers, not printers.

  • 2
    Using Lulu doesn't automatically use up for rights. You can use them to print privately, which means they won't list in on their site or offer it for sale in any way. You're just using them solely as a printer, just the same as if you had gone to Kinkos. If you want to keep a copy for yourself and give a few to friends that's hardly enough to be 'published', it would be more like offering it to a writers group.
    – Fox Cutter
    Feb 12, 2011 at 3:18
  • 4
    But you still agree to their contract which uses up your first publication rights. It doesn't matter if you don't sell the book to anyone, it's still considered published. It's not how many people buy the book, it has to do with the contract you "sign." Feb 12, 2011 at 5:16
  • Ah, that's different then. Yeah, don't use Lulu in that case.
    – Fox Cutter
    Feb 12, 2011 at 9:36
  • yes, it has to do with the contract you sign. "first publication rights" are customary, but not law (of course, correct me if I'm wrong). Feb 12, 2011 at 14:31

If you are willing to do the grunt work, check out Lightning Source (http://www.lightningsource.com/) and/or CreateSpace (http://www.createspace.com/) by Amazon.

Lightning Source is one of the cheapest I have found online when I was searching for such a solution about a year ago, and I believe Amazon's CreateSpace actually uses them for their printing services (not 100% sure). The advantage with Lightning Source is that they are the ones who actually DO the printing. However, you will have to call them up and talk with them to get them to work with you — I have done this and they setup an account for me, but I have yet to print anything.

CreateSpace, on the other hand, is from Amazon. They will print out your documents for you, and I assume they act as the "middle man" for Lightning Source. It is slightly more expensive, but I believe it is cheaper than Lulu. They also offer a little more help for getting through the process.

However, if you want some help along the way, the only suggestion I can make is Lulu. You will pay, but it is well worth it.

  • 1
    Similar to Lulu, Createspace is a self-publisher. The asker is looking for a printer, not a publisher. Feb 14, 2011 at 2:29
  • Granted, CreateSpace may be considered a publisher, but they produce a very professional product and it doesn't cost you anything to create the books. Once you have the book created and approved, you can buy them at discounted rates as the author. Even better, you now have a published book that can be purchased through Amazon. I used CreateSpace to provide a print version of my first fantasy novel, and I was extremely pleased with the end result. Jul 22, 2011 at 4:08

When my daughter wrote a book, I used http://www.48hrbooks.com/ to print 25 copies. They looked just like books you'd buy in a store. She was thrilled and gave them out to her friends and family. They were fast and professional. And, if you buy a large order their prices are quite competitive. You retain all rights to the book.

They have an online calculator so you can see exactly what your book will cost before you ever contact a human. The price quoted to me online was exactly what I paid at the end.

From the start of the process to having books in hand took about a week.

(I am not affiliated with them, I'm just a happy customer.)


Not sure how best to address Mr. Gallagher's comments as I can't seem to reply. However, it is my understanding that First Publication Rights refer to the first time your book is brought to market. Simply setting the plate at a press does not qualify, nor does making a hundred copies of your story and handing it out to friends and family.

In the case of most short-run print houses, they have attempted to augment their bottom line with a marketplace or online store. They'll help you sell the book, but this would consume your First Publication Rights.

Even given the contract that you agree to with Lulu, I can't see any fashion in which they claim any form of publication rights when your printing is completed privately. Prevent your working from coming to market, and you preserve your First Publication Rights.

  • Doing a quick read through of Lulu's "contract" is this "When you provide Content for publication or sale, you grant Lulu the nonexclusive right to post, display, copy, and sell that Content within the limitations you set during the online publishing process." That uses your first publication rights. Lulu is a self-publisher, not a printer. Feb 14, 2011 at 23:48
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    Why wouldn't the clause "within the limitations you set during the online publishing process" have an impact? If you set the limitations (via their private setting) that their right to distribute your work is zilch, how have you given them anything beyond what you'd give your laserjet when hitting the 'print' button. Feb 22, 2011 at 16:24

A local Border's affiliate in my town actually has a book-printing machine which they will assist you in using to the extent you need it...remember, writing is writing, but there's design and typesetting work to be done which is not at all trivial (someone close to me works as a graphic designer and is presently wrangling with an author--who is intending to self-publish--over this very issue). That is the expertise that a publisher brings to the table and why many people engage them.

When you engage a printer instead of a publisher, you are still publishing the book, it's just that you are your own publisher...so basically, you have no need of a publisher's expertise, presuming you can take care of the visual elements I mentioned above.

If you think you are going to be selling the book to a major (or minor) house though, you would do well to shop the manuscript first before you fix it in permanent printed form, because any print run is essentially a first printing of your book, whether you are the publisher or someone like lulu.com.


Worrying about giving up first publication rights is the last thing I would be worried about if I wanted to order two hundred copies for friends and family. If you truly have written the next Harry Potter, your desperate publisher will simply acquire these rights from Lulu if they even exist.

To answer the question, try short run printers and galley publishers (publishers of advance reading copies). These might meet your requirements. Start with 25 copies. When these are gone, you can order more. If you have more a localized distribution need, such as giving a copy of a book about sales tips to everyone in your sales organization, you can order more.

Another cost-effective alternative is to print a postcard with a link to your e-book. This marries meeting the need for a physical exchange with digital distribution. After you distribute the first 25 copies you can give the postcards away.


Look at the ads in the back of Writers Digest, or the Writer, or even local writers orgs newsletters.

You are at the quantity where real printing is not cost-effective so offset would be cheapest if you can take 8.5x11 copies and add your own binder-cover.

If you want a more traditional-looking book result then look for a printer, not a vanity press or other similar service. Lulu and similar are so-called self-publishers or self-publishing helpers, but act more like vanity presses. See the reviews for lulu et al here. There is also a very good although dated book that reviews all these companies in depth.

The number of pages for the page size will make the price vary considerably or make the book infeasible so you may have to compromise some. But for just printing and putting on a cover from your finished file, printers will be far cheaper, although some of them are ripoffs like the vanity press so get many quotes first.

  • "There is also a very good although dated book that reviews all these companies in depth." Can you provide the name of said book, or a link to where it can be purchased?
    – F1Krazy
    Oct 24, 2020 at 9:36

Depending on your location, you may be best off finding a local print shop, preferably one near some campus; these have very low prices on printing in bulk, and offer binding services in very reasonable prices - services like thermal binding cost very little and scale well with size of the book. You save up on the shipping costs (which, in case of ~200 books may contribute quite a bit). You are not getting entirely "publisher quality" product, but still something you can show or gift without shame.

That solution doesn't really scale well - 200 is possibly already above the "break even" margin of other suggested solutions; for 400 you're sure to get a better deal on a dedicated printers' service. But if you're in a market for 25 or 50 copies, you'll most likely come out ahead of these.

Note, the referred "thermal binding" is fine for novels, books you read up to a dozen times or open three times a year. It's not good for references, textbooks and other "heavy use" applications - after being open 30 times on the same page the book starts coming apart.

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