Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Self-published books can now be distributed to bookstores?

Since I am in the process of updating my book on self-publishing with Amazon's CreateSpace, I have been examining the new services offered by the company.  The most noticeable additions are the author services such as editing, lay-out, cover-design, etc.  But the most interesting one is the expanded distribution service offered by CreateSpace that allows authors the opportunity to self-publish and have their book sold in a bookstore.

Conventional wisdom in the self-publishing industry has been that self-published books are nearly impossible to get bookstores to stock and that the long tail of Amazon has been the equalizer that allows self-publishing authors, particularly those who use POD, to sell their books.  The big advantage of using CreateSpace was its direct connection to Amazon, who owns CreateSpace, allowing authors to have the advantage of POD and access to Amazon.

While this opportunity sounds really interesting, and for some self-publishing authors it is certainly going to create some opportunities that did not exist before, I am wondering if this is more of a marketing ploy on the part of Amazon to draw more authors away from competing self-publishing/author services companies, than it is a real effort on Amazon to push its way into the brick and mortar bookstore business.

To take advantage of this new opportunity, the author must pay the $39 fee to use the Pro Plan, which is very reasonable for the many benefits this option provides, the most important of which is an outstanding price per copy for the author. If the author updates the book files and is using the Expanded Distribution Channel program, there is a $25 fee, which again is reasonable for the service provided.

The key to having this service be meaningful is the marketability of the book.  Bookstores will have to be convinced that sales opportunities are available and the book will make the owner a profit. If the book does not meet these requirements, a bookstore is not going to carry the book.

If an author decides to take advantage of the new EDC program, CreateSpace has even added an online royalties calculator, allowing the author to learn the royalties that each of the three CreateSpace distribution programs pay for each copy of a book sold.

In all of the information I have seen, the lone question that CreateSpace has not answered is there a returns option for the bookstore and how will this impact the royalties for the author.

This is an interesting development and how it will impact the self-publishing industry is not for me to predict.