CreateSpace’s New Distribution Options: Pros and Cons

Recently, CreateSpace added several new free distribution options to their distribution channels. This includes distribution to bookstores like Barnes & Noble and your local bookshop, academic institutions and libraries, and to CreateSpace Direct. These options, once available only to authors who were able to afford them, are now available to self-published authors with all sorts of incomes, writing styles, and fan followings.

Now there are definite perks to doing this. Authors would love more readers, and if they are able to reach readers in places previously unavailable to them due to monetary concerns, this can only be good for them. And bookstores, which have been suffering with the rise of the e-book and online distributors, will probably benefit being able to cater to the fans of authors whose works were before only available on certain online retailers. In a way, it’s a symbiotic relationship, both for authors and booksellers.

Not only that, but the books of self-published authors are sometimes rejected by libraries and academic institutions because they are self-publsihed in the first place, or their self-published status means that the books don’t come from certain distributors. If authors are able to get their works into libraries, that means people who don’t own e-readers or who can’t afford to buy books online can now read the books of self-published authors through this new distribution system.

And, using the expanded distribution channels means a potentially higher royalty rate for every copy sold.

However, there are drawbacks to this. Amazon, which owns CreateSpace and it’s print-on-demand services, determines minimum prices for all works published through them. They calculate these minimum prices by determining the length of the book, how much it’ll cost to print, how much they get from the sale of the book, and how much they need to give the author. Recently when I published my novel Reborn City, I saw that the minimum price they gave me was a little less than nine dollars, much higher than I’d expected. I wasn’t happy about it, but I decided to go with it and make the best of it.

When today I decided to try these expanded distribution options on RC, I found out that in order to use these expanded distribution channels, the list price would go up to at least thirteen dollars. In other words, the increase didn’t cost anything for the author, but it did cost extra for the reader.

I decided not to take these extra distribution channels because of the price hike it’d require. Some of my friends and family would not be able to afford a paperback copy because of a list price, or they’d be much more reluctant to buy it because is it not  their genre in addition to being over thirteen dollars. Plus, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want to make people pay too much for his work more than he wants them to actually read his work. Terrible character flaw, I know, but I live with it.

However that’s my own personal choice. If you wish to, go right ahead and sign up for these new channels. It’s your choice, which as I’ve said before is one of the best perks of self-pbulishing.

And who knows? You could see your sales go up dramatically, and your fanbase expand like a hot-air balloon. Not to mention the joy of telling friends and family that your work is now available in bookstores and libraries.  That’s always something to make you feel good. And for some books, the increase in the list price might not be too high, so if you have my problem with pricing books too high, it may not be so bad after all. I might still use these channels for my collection of short stories, which is already very low-priced.

What do you think of these new distribution options? Are you planning on use them? If so, why or why not?

*Note: Since this post’s publication, I’ve had a change of heart and I’ve decided to try distributing my books through these new channels in the hope of reaching more readers. Whether or not I’m successful, we shall see. Wish me luck, as well as everyone else using these options for the first time.

26 Comments

  1. I’ve been using these options all along, although I’ve been paying $25 for each book I published. I didn’t want my readers to be limited to where they could buy my books. I make very little on each book when it’s bought through somewhere besides Amazon, but I felt it was worth it. So free distribution is a bonus for me.

    1. I’m glad it’s working out for you and now it’ll be a little easier to distribute your books. Good luck in the future.

  2. My first 100 cartoon book createspace out very soon. 100 full color plates is VERY expensive to produce $24 without royalty with basic distribution. Switched to printing both sides of page now book down to $17.50 with $1.50 royalty. Now that is a stretch for potential buyer but my book more art book than comic book and hand drawn and colored, not digital . That is the best manufacture/sale price out there. Set up for different size images each page expensive too over mere text and my set up probably 3 or 4 times what it cost you. My blog will be initial sales point with their basic distribution on amazon books. I also contribute cartoons to several other blogs free from time to time and that broadens network. Have material for 3 more books. Unlike some I have had very positive experience dealing with them, very patient, kind and helpful. Expanded distribution seems not worth it and no ebook for me – I am not selling my stuff for $2. Some authors and pro artists and photographers follow my blog and have promised publicity on their blogs.

    1. Broadening your network does help. And for different books, especially different types of books, different prices are necessary. Your price sounds about what I would pay for a book full of cartoons. Good luck with it.

  3. sknicholls says:

    I am choosing to go with expanded distribution. I know my paperback will be priced higher. If people invest in a reader they don’t pay that high. I would rather have dedicated readers in my genre than risk reviews from readers who simply don’t understand it anyway. I have always thought the indie ceiling was too low, even for eversions…but that is just me.

    1. I understand your point of view. Good luck in the future.

  4. ronfritsch says:

    I’ve always been in favor of expanded distribution and didn’t think $25 was much to spend on it. (For others, though, it could be.) Anyway, now I get my last $25, spent on November 3, back. Lucky me.

    1. I’m glad it worked out for you. Good luck in the future.

  5. Has anyone tried this and actually had their book picked up by book stores? I’d have thought most of them would be very cautious about buying in copies of self-published work unless there was a huge buzz behind it. How does it work? Do stores just browse Createspace and pick the books they like the look of?

    1. I’m not sure, but there’s some sort of partnership at work here, for sure. Perhaps someone will try it, find out the results, and comment on it.

    2. I’m pretty sure most of the sales of my books through expanded distribution has been to Barnes and Noble. The reason I think that is my books are shown as available on the B & N website, so they would have to buy them from CreateSpace. When a sale through expanded distribution happens, you never know where it came from. I wish they would change that because I would like to know.

      1. Yeah, it would be nice to know. Unless you get as many sales as some popular NYT Bestsellers, in which case that would be an email every couple hours at the very least.

        1. I don’t get emails. I just have to go to my account and check sales. If course, getting a bunch of emails about book sales would be a great problem to have! 🙂

  6. Shah Wharton says:

    I think I’d go with it. I’m sorting a second edition of my book right now, but once I upload it I’ll distribute to as many as possible. Interesting debate of pros and cons… but I think I that price is comparable to trad-pubbed books and if they purchase online they’d have to add postage to the price tag, making the differences smaller. X

    shahwharton.com

    1. Good luck with your 2nd edition.

  7. D.G.Kaye says:

    Great information! Thanks for the share as I am just about ready to publish my book, this is great news!

    1. You’re very welcome. Good luck with your book!

      1. D.G.Kaye says:

        Thanks kindly. 🙂

  8. I’ve been using Expanded Distribution since I started with Createspace (March this year). I get a minimal royalty; it is much less than I get through Amazon and substantially less than Createspace direct.

    1. That’s harsh. But at least we get some profit from it, right?

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