I’m sure many of you will have received the email from CreateSpace (CS) that announces how their own eStore will cease to serve customers on October 31st. Instead, customers will be redirected to Amazon.
CreateSpace explains that the move was made because of requests that their eStore is redeveloped to include the ability to search across the site, an improved checkout process, better shipping options including Amazon Prime, order tracking notifications, and a familiar user interface.
What Does This Mean For You?
My usual source for all things Amazon, Chris McMullen, has compiled bulleted lists of pros and cons which you can read to see how this will affect you.
The simple fact remains that CreateSpace currently offers a 20% higher royalty than Amazon. To ease the transition, it will adjust your Amazon royalty rates for six months effective November 1, 2017 through April 30, 2018, to reflect the average royalty rate you earned across all paperback sales of your title through both the CreateSpace eStore and Amazon sales channels (which includes Amazon.com and Amazon Europe) over the last year.
For example, if half of your sales for a paperback title were through the CreateSpace eStore, for which you earned an 80% royalty rate, and the other half was through Amazon sales channels, for which you earned a 60% royalty rate, your new royalty rate for sales of that title during this six-month period will be 70%. After April 30, 2018, your royalty rate will revert to the standard Amazon 60% rate.
However, the fact also remains that most authors sell very few books, if any, through their CreateSpace eStores. So, chances are you will be unaffected by this change. It’s telling that, out of my 16 titles, only one is affected; my Greek translation of the Tao Te Ching, since I send people to CS from my taoteching.gr website.
My KDP Print Worry
Since February, Amazon has been offering the choice of publishing the print edition of your book through KDP Print. Whenever you create or update a KDP title, you are reminded of this, ensuring that a lot of books will have been published through the new process by now. Amazon advertises the fact that KDP Print enables you to receive consolidated royalty payments for paperback and eBook sales. You can view combined reports and manage your print and eBook publishing from one website.
I see the two pieces of news as connected. KDP Print now seems poised to take off, leaving CS on the ground. As author Diane Tibert said in an April post, “I suspect that once KDP Print has enough users… authors will be forced to have their paperbacks in KDP Print and CreateSpace will be gone.” Her words now sound prescient.
However, there are several important CreateSpace perks missing from KDP Print:
- First, I love CreateSpace’s support about as much as I dread dealing with Amazon’s one. CS staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and a single phone call is usually all it takes to fix any problems.
- Second, I love the process of creating a print edition in CreateSpace and the control it gives you. KDP Print removes all the “pesky” choices you have to make. If an author publishes an eBook and then is offered the feature to publish a print copy, all they have to do is accept it. They don’t have to make a professional PDF to publish the paperback. KDP Print will attempt to make a presentable copy from the formatted eBook. So, you’re left with very little control overall.
- Related to the above, authors cannot order proofs of their books. The book goes on sale before you have had a chance to review the final product.
- Next, for some bizarre reason, books printed through KDP Print are not available for sale on amazon.ca–Amazon’s Canadian arm.
- Last and most important: CreateSpace allows you, the author, to order copies of your book at cost. These are particularly useful if you have a book signing or wish to organize a local event. KDP Print doesn’t offer this; you have to buy your books at the same price as everyone else.
In a Comparison Chart mentioned in Diane’s post, you can see a comparison between CreateSpace and KDP Print that shows which can do what. CreateSpace can do everything, but KDP can do only 3 of the 7.
So, when I heard the news, I immediately had to wonder: will how long before CreateSpace is absorbed into Amazon and stops offering its services altogether? Only time will tell.
Update: Chris McMullen’s Point Of View
Chris left me a kind comment, which I’m sharing here as I think it’s worth reading.
I’m not yet worried about CreateSpace and KDP print possible merging. Obviously, I have an action plan, just in case. But I don’t expect it to come too soon or to be a big problem.
For one, CreateSpace is still huge compared to KDP print. Millions of print books have been published through KDP. It will take KDP print much time to compare with that, and most of the top-selling print books are still at CreateSpace.
For another, if the transition does happen, Amazon will likely keep indie authors content. Look at changes that occurred over at KDP—including preorders, advertising on AMS, improved reporting, improved preview options, new publishing tools, revised structure for Kindle Unlimited (remember that famous 10% mark?)— through the years. This shows that Amazon does listen to authors’ requests. Amazon is customer service oriented.
I think that’s exactly what happened here. Customers and authors both complained about CreateSpace’s eStore. It’s an unknown site, unsearchable, doesn’t offer Prime, doesn’t help with Amazon sales ranks, etc. Amazon offered a simple solution. For 99.99% of authors, it’s better this way: Few were getting sales at their eStore, and for those who were linking to their eStore, customers were walking away because they had to sign up for a new account and pay for shipping. If instead authors had linked to Amazon, most would have closed more sales. For the few did earn significant eStore sales, they could publish a special edition with Lulu and sell copies from Lulu’s storefront, while keeping everything else through CreateSpace.
There would be wide-scale frustration if authors couldn’t order proofs or reasonably priced author copies. It seems unlikely that Amazon would take so much away. (Like I said, I always have an action plan, just in case. That doesn’t prevent me from remaining optimistic though.)
I’m still happy to recommend CreateSpace.