Trafford is primarily a printer. Their publishing packages start at $699.00 and go up to $1399. The $699 package does not include distribution; their middle package at $999 includes distribution on their own site. To get full POD distribution, you need to pay for the premium package at $1399. Layout and typesetting is considered an additional service and costs $550 for standard novels and more for other types of books. This means that a basic POD package with typesetting and no distribution costs $1249. A premium package including typesetting, distribution and layout costs $1949. Lamination of the cover is also considered an additional cost. These are US dollars, not Canadian dollars.
Trafford does not screen books, and they’ll print anything that comes in. This means potential booksellers cannot count on the quality of books produced under the imprint. The retail prices of their books is high (they recommend 2.5 times single copy printing cost). For example a 200 page black and white novel with a laminated cover would retail for $7.47 x 2.5 or $18.67. Compare this to $15.95 from another publisher (who offers higher distributor discounts). Trafford doesn’t offer marketing packages; however, their premium package does include some promotional materials such as postcards and an email announcement of the book’s release. Many items that they list as benefits are automatic with most publishers such as a listing in Books in Print (if you have an ISBN it has to be listed in Books in Print).
The fact that you can purchase your books “at cost” is a red herring because cost for Trafford includes the printing profit. The “cost” of their books is, in fact, about the same as the price of books purchased from some POD publishers, which includes printing cost, the printer’s profit, and the publisher’s profit.
Royalties are 60% of “gross margin.” This is the retail price less the discount (to bookstore, distributor, etc.) less the single copy printing cost (which as we’ve noted includes the printer’s profit). Using the same 200 page book as above sold to a distributor at a 50% discount, this amounts to 19.25 – 9.625 – 7.02 = 1.925 * 60% = $1.56. So 60% of gross margin on this book is $1.56. According to their contract, Trafford pays this same price (Retail-distributor discount-print cost) *60% on sales off their own site as well.
On the upside, they have a great website. Their contracts are non-exclusive, and if you go on their site you can find out who the publisher is. Setup for color printing is expensive, but color book prices are reasonable.
On the plus side:
-Includes storage of print files (for how long is unspecified)
-Sends two copies to the National Library
-Offers color printing
On the negative side:
-Royalties are low
-Don’t screen for quality
-Retail prices are high
-Print prices are high
-Shipping from Canada to the US is expensive
-Marketing packages non-existent
-No returnability option available
Overall: Focus is on selling publishing packages not on selling books. Prices are high.