I was talking with a friend about self-publishing and the idea of having better print-on-demand coverage came up. CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, so even with their extended distribution feature, it is unlikely that Barnes & Noble would consider stocking it or selling it in their online store. He mentioned Nook Press as an alternative. Years ago I had used it back when they only had functionality for publishing ebooks. Now they have print-on-demand, which is great. Over the last two weeks or so I’ve been setting up a project on there for Creator Sky. I was initially going to use Blurb.com as my second print-on-demand source, but for the moment I’m going to stick with CreateSpace and NookPress.
The main benefits NookPress has over blurb is ease of transitioning my CreateSpace source document to Nook’s formatting as well as it being tied to B&N, which will mean getting a print version on their site and maybe even in their physical stores eventually.
Here is a small photo of the NookPress print alongside the CreateSpace one:
The biggest difference is that the NookPress cover material has a matte finish and CreateSpace is shiny. Besides that, the Nook one is more compact even though the page sizes are around the same.
Interior quality is pretty similar, but I like CreateSpace a bit more. The paper seems slightly thicker with a more uniform look:
The graphic of my face is noticeably darker in the NookPress version (exposure of the two photos isn’t the same but in real life the graphic is darker as well).
Their self publishing process isn’t foolproof. It took me a second try to get things right (around $11 shipped per proof copy for my ~320 page book). I’ll be going over all of my settings to help anyone out with a similar goal. They have a setup screen with suggestions, but the data isn’t perfect in my opinion. Also keep in mind that you have a 10 proof copy limit to have printed and they hide the feature in the last steps before approving the project for distribution. Be careful not to approve the project before having a print made! My first proof print had a few issues and I’m glad I had proofs made to verify everything. The 10 copy limit is for the entire project, so only have one copy printed each time.
The initial settings were Black & White, Paperback, Cream #55 paper, and 5×8 inch format.
Problems start to arise because their suggestions are not ideal. The site uploader step suggests an interior margin of 0.75 inches, which I think is too small after seeing my first proof copy. The odd thing is that in their style and formatting PDF document it suggests 1 inch instead, which I believe is the correct amount to use.
Here are two screenshots from the NookPress website. I had to make a fake new project to see that page again now that I have Creator Sky published:
As mentioned above, it shows the interior margin that I didn’t agree with. It also shows some dimensions you will need to use when designing the cover art (full wrap that includes the spine). Do not care about the cover values until you upload the interior PDF document. Those values will change after their system processes the document!
Here are my Libre Office page settings:
Width: 5 inches
Height: 8 inches
Page layout: Mirrored
Inner margin: 1 inches
Outer margin: 0.5 inches
Top margin: 0.5 inches
Bottom margin: 0.4 inches (I took this down because I wanted the footer a bit shorter as it seemed like a waste of space)
Keep in mind that I used a copy of my CreateSpace document, which saved a lot of time, but still required a decent amount of adjustments. You have to open up the Styles toolbox and clean it up (Menu item Styles >> Styles & Formatting F11). My original document had probably 5 times as many page styles listed than what you see above, but I went through them and deleted ones that were not used or could be discarded with a bit of work.
Here are the settings for the header and footer. They should be consistent between all of the page types:
Header spacing: 0.32 inches
Height: 0.04 inches
Footer spacing: 0.42 inches
Footer height: 0.04 inches
AutoFit height on both.
I had adjusted the footer to taste, because I thought it was taking up a bit too much space.
The document itself needed to be adjusted to conform to NookPress’s printing preference of PDF files. I had initially converted my document to PDF for the first proof copy without understanding how it would work exactly. It turns out that when doing the conversion in Libre Office, it didn’t include a blank page it should have. The CreateSpace template and Libre office formatted version implement a blank page to make sure that page 1 of the actual text will be on the right side to conform to a standard practice in print books.
As shown above in a previous screenshot, the back cover needs to be designed with care in something like Photoshop to get it right. My first attempt was off, but my second turned out alright. Below is a photo of the first and second attempt with NookPress on the cover:
Here is a screenshot of my Photoshop cover document. I followed the width, height, and spine values on the NookPress website (after I uploaded my interior document to get the correct values):
In this case I pulled up a calculator and started adding guides to help me position things (in the view menu of Photoshop CS5). I aligned my spine text and graphic based on the absolute center of the document. I also added in margins as specified by the site and the PDF style/formatting guide. Don’t go by the graphics on the NookPress site. Their margin/spine ratios are off and the area that it shows the barcode is completely wrong. You really just need to look at the numbers (eg. a spine of 0.72 with 2mm margins, etc).
5×8 inches = 5.13 x 8.25 per side with 0.25 margins on the borders of the graphic is the generic formula excluding the spine size, but keep in mind the NookPress site might give you additional margin values you should consider.
Formatting document references (as long as the links stay the same):
That’s pretty much it! It’s not a short process by any means, but not too difficult with a bit of time to make sure you have margins setup properly in the interior and the exterior graphic.