Changes for Amazon print-on-demand
Things are changing for Amazon print-on-demand services. Earlier this year, Amazon’s CreateSpace announced plans to discontinue services like layout and cover design for authors. And last month, they finally said that CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing will merge into one service. Many in the self-publishing world had long suspected such a change was on the horizon, since the launch of KDP print seemed to render CreateSpace redundant. The transition has been gradual, with many features going offline on CreateSpace while KDP gradually built up its own offerings for Amazon print-on-demand. According to CreateSpace staff, the service had been merging with KDP for quite some time behind the scenes, and the latest changes represent a final shift in how the services are offered to authors.
So what will these changes mean for authors? And for new authors deciding whether to use print-on-demand or just offer their work digitally, what can KDP offer?
Changes for authors
While CreateSpace has yet to officially close, authors are being encouraged to switch over now. The good news is, this process is quick and easy. The process starts the same way as creating a new Amazon print-on-demand paperback with KDP, but you’ll skip many of the steps by inputting an ISBN from an existing CreateSpace title. Your book will be reviewed, which usually takes less than 24 hours, but will remain on sale during the transition.
For new authors, the switch will mean little more than making print-demand for Amazon customers even more convenient. Amazon says the new system will offer “a more seamless experience for managing your paperback and digital books,” and KDP will offer additional services that CreateSpace did not.
Benefits of KDP print
For one, you’ll be able to purchase Amazon ads for your print-on-demand paperbacks. Authors will now be able to access locally printed author copies in Europe. KDP print will allow you to track your sales and downloads for both print and eBooks in one spot. This is not only a timesaver, but also allows you to easily view the big picture of how your book is doing. And while KDP sales reports used to only be viewable by individual month, this is no longer the case – you can view the sales history for your book’s entire lifetime, in both digital and print formats.
KDP also now offers expanded distribution for bookstores and libraries, international distribution, and royalties in line with what CreateSpace had been offering for years. In terms of design, KDP is also providing trim options that CreateSpace did not. And crucially, KDP does not take down the previous version of your book while approval is pending for a new version.
Should I use Amazon print-on-demand?
For Amazon authors still wondering if print-on-demand is worth it, it’s important to remember that print books still account for 50 to 60 percent of the market, with eBooks totaling only 30 to 40 percent. With print-on-demand, there is little overhead beyond a slightly higher cost for designing the layout. Like CreateSpace before it, KDP allows you to make a print book available on Amazon without spending anything up-front at all. The cost of printing each book will be taken out of your royalties for each sale.
In the US market, KDP printing cost is calculated using an 85-cent base cost, and a 12 cent per page cost. This means a 300-page black ink book would cost only $4.45 to print. You’ll receive a 60 percent royalty with standard distribution, and 40 percent with expanded distribution.
And what is expanded distribution exactly? This service allows your book to made available through the large distributors that most online retailers and bookstores use to acquire their books. It means your print-on-demand title can be made available beyond Amazon. To be eligible for expanded distribution, your book needs an ISBN you either purchased or that was assigned by KDP, and (here’s the catch) that hasn’t been used for distribution elsewhere. And since generally, Ingram Spark is the better print-on-demand route to go for authors hoping to get their print-on-demand title into bookstores, you may want to opt out of expanded distribution and enjoy the higher royalties if you think you might want to use another service like Ingram Spark. Many independent bookstores will avoid purchasing books through Amazon at all.
Going strictly digital will limit your access to readers, and Amazon print-on-demand services are an increasingly easy, simple way to offer Amazon readers a print option for reading your book. If you hope to go beyond Amazon customers, it may be worth looking into other services, but at the very least, authors using Amazon should take advantage of the standard distribution print-on-demand services to allow readers to enjoy your book on their terms. With print books making a modest comeback and eBook sales actually levelling off in recent years, Amazon print-on-demand is an easy way for authors to be ready for anything.