How recently would that question have made no sense at all?
Having played around a bit with Amazon’s CreateSpace service (Those books on the sidebar: They’re mine, I swearsies), I find it functional, intuitive, and free. Zero complaints about how the system works or how Amazon pays out. Yeah, you don’t make tons of money, thanks, everyone who’s ever tried to be an author. If you want to see your name on a book cover, they will take care of that for you and even throw some royalties your way. I haven’t heard that Random House does differently.
But I’m not the kind of guy who never wonders whether that turf on the obverse of the palisade is indeed more verdant. I bought the Wife a Nook HD+ for Mother’s Day, even though we’re an Amazon/Apple family, as much to check out a different platform as because of the sale. Since self-publishing had the Stigma Removed, I have looked about at all manner of publishing sites. Smashwords seems altogether too “YEAH! PUBLISHING!” But Lulu.com and I have had a long online flirtation. I like the aesthetics of the place, the cornocopia of services, the lure of publishing a HARDCOVER BOOK (that’s right, Millenials: Generation X still reads books printed on Paper, because we’re old).
The only thing that’s held me back is the suspicion that to really get anything that looks like a saleable book, I’m going to have to plunk down a not inconsiderable amount of money. One thing CreateSpace does is offer up a free library of images to help you design a cover: I’ve used that, and I’ve used my own images. Lulu only seems to offer a set of Modern Library-esque texture covers for free (and, of course, anything you own the rights too). Which, for certain monographs, wouldn’t be bad, but not for the sort of books I have in mind.
It’s something to wrack the brain about.