The first news I heard about KDP Print was in an email from Amazon on February 15th. Since then, I’ve read articles, blog posts and comments about it and watched the praise given by Amazon for this service dwindle quickly.
In the email, Amazon announced they were making print book publishing easier for writers. They stated, “KDP prints your book on demand and subtracts your printing costs from your royalties, so you don’t have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory.”
That’s what CreateSpace does. Sort of. I believe CreateSpace takes the cost of the printing of the book from the sale price, then takes a cut of the royalties. Until I see the numbers and do the math, I am unsure which service will offer a better financial deal for authors.
The message also stated, “It also 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.”
Except, I’m okay with visiting two sites to get my sales reports. In fact, I prefer CreateSpace’s sales report much more than I do Kindle’s. Kindle’s is not straightforward and too clunky to find answers quickly.
Amazon claims the benefits of using KDP Print over CreateSpace are:
- Reach paperback readers through Amazon websites in the US, Europe (amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.fr, amazon.es, amazon.it) and Japan (amazon.co.jp).
- Earn up to 60% royalties on the list price you set, minus printing costs.
- You get to use Amazon’s catalog system. CreateSpace’s catalog used the BISAC system. With the new KDP Paperback features, you can use the same categories you picked for your eBook, plus you get keywords!
- Distribution to Japan.
My Assessment of These Benefits
- My paperbacks through CreateSpace already reach these markets and more. Did you notice one important country missing from the list? CANADA! In other words, I cannot order a copy of my own book, and neither can my friends, my neighbours or anyone else in this beautiful country. If I published my print book through this feature, I would not be able to see if the copy is wonderful or garbage.
- I’m still wondering if this is a better deal than CreateSpace. My gut reaction is no.
- That might be a great selling feature that’s not so great at all. Something works great at CreateSpace because I sell a lot of paper copies through it.
- Kind of a ho-hum benefit if you ask me because I don’t sell books in Japan.
The One True Benefit
The one benefit they didn’t mention, and that’s because it applies to Canadians only—and we know, we’re at the bottom of their list—is payment before we reach $100. At the moment, Canadians using CreateSpace must reach a threshold of $100 before they receive a cheque. By being paid through Kindle, we’d get our money regardless of the amount, even though it might be less per book with the new math Amazon is applying to royalties.
Amazon states more features will be added over time but currently, authors cannot order proofs of their books. Ouch. So the book goes on sale before an author can view the final product to ensure everything—fonts, cover graphics and colours, page numbers, headers and much more—are the way they’re supposed to be.
Also, if you go with KDP Print, you cannot order copies at wholesale prices to sell at markets, to donate to libraries or to give as gifts. You have to pay the full price. And as I mentioned, Canadians can’t buy them at any price. And to limit authors even more, there is no expanded distribution to bookstores. The print copies are sold only on Amazon websites.
At CreateSpace, authors can order copies at excellent wholesale prices, and their paperbacks are available at book stores other than Amazon. And Canadians can buy them.
This alone gives me a knee-jerk reaction to this Kindle-all feature. It’s in beta mode, and authors are encouraged to participate, but I say, “NO! Don’t do it! Especially if you live in Canada.”
Kindle introduced this feature for a few reasons, but the one I’m hearing most is they want to encourage authors who only publish in eBook format to make their books available in print form too. Basically, it wants authors who were too lazy, or who thought print books were dead, or who didn’t want to learn how to publish a print book to publish a print book. It may make good business sense to Amazon right now, but it doesn’t look good for authors.
And, in the long run, what we may end up seeing is poorly formatted paperbacks flooding the market, making the environment worse for self-published authors. I remember a time when I never doubted the quality of a print book. Now, with this feature, I will have to be more careful of what I buy. If a reader is burnt by a bad purchase, they will be reluctant to buy another from Amazon.
The drawbacks to this feature far outweigh the benefits. As an example, someone commented on a Kindle Board, stating, “The one advantage that most people cite with confidence is having your accounting and royalties info on a single page, but since you trade CreateSpace’s 30-day payment schedule for KDP’s 60-day schedule, as well as KDP’s inability to provide complete (from the beginning and YTD (year to date) accounting info, it’s not really a clear advantage.”
Digitally Proofing a Book
I also wonder about proofing the book by viewing an online PDF version of it before an actual copy is ordered. I’ve fixed many things at this stage at CreateSpace so when I ordered the proof, I was less likely to be unhappy with it. Will KDP Print offer this?
Comparing Apples to Pork Chops
The Comparison Chart between CreateSpace and KDP Print shows which can do what. CreateSpace can do everything, but KDP can do only 3 of the 7. When KDP will be able to do everything listed is a mystery. This page also provides instructions on how to move your CreateSpace books to KDP Print. But if you used a custom print, you’ll have to modify your files: “KDP does not support custom CreateSpace trim sizes. If you used a CreateSpace interior template to create your manuscript file, make sure it’s in a trim size that KDP supports. If not, reset the trim size and reformat your manuscript file to match your new trim size.”
Less Author Control
The scary reality is, 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. I don’t know about any other self-publishing author, but my eBooks look a lot different from my paperbacks. It’s impossible for KDP Print to create anything I’d want my name on from this conversion.
Vital Information for Unsuspecting Authors
It’s important to note that the transition from CreateSpace to KDP paperbacks is a one-way street. There is no way to put things back if you decide you’d rather stick with CreateSpace after you’ve moved your paperback to KDP. The process deletes your paperback from CreateSpace.
The Sad Truth
Amazon has folded CreateSpace product services into itself before, then killed off that part of CreateSpace. Not too long ago, after Amazon launched its own Video Direct platform, it removed the CreateSpace option to publish digital videos on Amazon. In fact, all of those videos on CreateSpace were eventually forced to move to Amazon Video Direct to continue selling.
I suspect that once KDP Print has enough users, the same thing will happen. Authors will be forced to have their paperbacks in KDP Print and CreateSpace will be gone.
What does this mean for the future?
It means serious self-publishing authors like myself, who take pride in creating the best print copy they can and who want full control over how their book is created and where it is sold, will look elsewhere. Many will flock to Ingram Spark as they grow to accommodate self-published authors. That is where I’ll be going.
Links to Explore
Learn more about KDP Print from Kindle
UPDATE (February 2, 2018): KDP Print Now Provides Proof and Author Copies
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Have you decided what you’ll do? Will you stick with CreateSpace or take the leap into the unknown, limited KDP Print?