I just got the quote back from India for the generic project that I sent. I figured 128 pages and a 6×9 inch zine with #30 (very light) magazine stock. I specified 4 color #50 uncoated cover stock. It should have the look and feel of the Classic TV Guide – think b&w pages plus an uncoated cover (like F&SF). Best guess is $1.60 at qty 250 with a 14 day turn-around. 1/3 cost is shipping. If I wanted to go 6 weeks shipping I could save 45 cents a book.
I think the outlay of $400 is not too painful. I would charge $2.99 a book and that would leave room to sell to distributors and use amazon. An ISBN would add cost, but I am thinking of using an ISSN (like an ISBN, but for periodicals and it’s free). I have to see what amazon thinks about ISSN numbers and selling directly though their website.
The break even point will be around 100 full price books. 100 books is a record breaking best seller in the POD world. Of course, if I sell any through project pulp, or amazon, they take a hefty cut. Break even from these kinds of sales is probably closer to 250 sales. I will send out a bunch of copies to distributors and book chain stores, but don’t hold your breath.
When it comes down to it, the actual project might only be 80 or 100 pages so that would bring the weight and printing costs even lower, cutting down on losses.