Amazon's publish-on-demand company is BookSurge, which I emailed last weekend to see what they do and what they charge.
According to a reply I received they don't publish hardbound books. My effort at Lulu, therefore, has not been completely wasted. If I can get a hardbound copy of my novel into a reviewer's hands I think my chances for a positive review will be high. I think my chances for getting it reviewed, period, will be strongest if the reviewer has a hardbound to read.
But I still need a trade paperback available for the retail sales on Amazon and B&N. The hardbound edition is too costly to compete at the retail level, where I'm already at a disadvantage because of my obscurity. I would guess the paperback will be higher than traditionally published paperbacks but at least the price will be lower than the hardbound . . . I hope.
If I can't bring the price down by having it sold directly through online bookstores I'll see if I can set myself up as a reseller on their sites. That way, I can bring the price down considerably. Here's how I see it working: I buy a number of copies from a POD publisher. I get the book listed on Amazon, B&N at a price lower than what people would pay if they bought it directly from them. That part is attractive to potential buyers. That part that isn't is the statement that goes something like, "ususally ships in 2-3 days." Maybe I can get that changed, though. I would ship ASAP, that day or next day.
BookSurge had not replied to my last query in which I asked about the projected retail price for a 6x9" trade paperback version of my novel. I emailed them again a short while ago asking for a reply.
Maybe I'll have to do everything through Lulu.
My goal in using publish-on-demand is to show a potential traditional publisher that my book has commercial potential.
Meanwhile, I received an email from Lulu yesterday telling me the two copies I ordered have shipped. UPS has a projected delivery date of Wednesday, February 27. The copies I'm getting are comparable to proof sheets (I believe they're called) sent from a regular publisher.
If the copies look good I'll get an ISBN and go from there.