Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are Amazon and CreateSpace Winning the POD War With Lightning Source?

For some time now there have been rumors of a war on Lightning Source on the part of Amazon and its print-on-demand division, CreateSpace. Many indie and self-published authors have decried the sudden change in the status of their LSI distributed titles from "in stock" to "available in one to three weeks" which might as well be listed as out-of-stock.

This in turn led to what has been called "Plan B," an approach devised by Aaron Shepard, one of the foremost advocates of LSI in the past. Mr. Shepard now encourages authors to use CreateSpace for their POD services and distribution to Amazon.

Based on my own experience, I would advise everyone to go with CreateSpace and not LSI if the book you want to publish is your first. CreateSpace is much more user-friendly and it appears LSI now wants all self-publishing authors to use IngramSpark as the gateway to LSI.

In the past my suggestion that authors use CreateSpace was based on the ease of use. Now I would argue it is essential if you want your book to sell. All of my 30+ titles, save one, are printed and distributed by CreateSpace. They are always listed as in stock and available.

The line title, which also happens to be my best selling title in paperback, was also the first book I published. It is printed and distributed by LSI. 

The sales for the paperback edition of this title have collapsed in the last three months. Well, more than collapsed I should say, they have vanished. I have not sold a single copy.

The listing for the book ranges from "out of stock" to the equally dreaded "available in one to three weeks."

Please note, the book was also made available through CreateSpace and I did not authorize the Expanded Distribution feature. CreateSpace would be the lone supplier to Amazon. LSI would supply all other online retailers.

Up until three months ago, that was fine. Evidently, now it is not.

Recent correspondence with CreateSpace drew a response that since there were two possible suppliers, there had to be two listings. I suppose that makes sense. But guess which listing shows up first in the searches?

I guess I will have to break down and finally end my relationship with LSI in order to do something about restoring my sales ranking and sales for this book which had spent three years listed on the first page of results in its category before this sudden death spiral in sales.

Aaron Shepard has recently weighed in on this topic and has much more insight into the situation than I do. To read what Mr. Shepard has to say about the "Temporarily Out of Stock" issue regarding LSI and Amazon, please take the time to visit his post. It will be worth the read.

For those of us who broke in to self-publishing when POD was the way to do it, technology has once again changed the industry. Make sure you have a Kindle edition when you publish!