Important Announcement Regarding Print through Createspace

So, THIS is what I woke up to on Friday the 13th:

Hello,

To better serve customers and improve the online buying experience, we will redirect customers who click on your CreateSpace eStore links to their corresponding detail pages on Amazon.com starting October 31, 2017.

We’re making this change based on increasing feedback and requests to add features to the eStore that are currently available on Amazon.com. These features 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.

While this change will allow eStore redirects to benefit your titles’ sales rank and visibility on Amazon.com, we realize these sales will earn lower royalty rates than on the eStore. To help with this transition, we 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 were 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.

You can also earn more if you sign up to become an Amazon Associate

The closure of the eStore will not affect other CreateSpace services. However, if your titles are not available for sale on Amazon.com, you’ll need to visit your CreateSpace dashboard and check the box to allow sales through Amazon.com. To learn more about these changes please review our Help page.

Let me explain all the ways this screws me over.

1. The loss of the store means the loss of the ability to offer discounts and incentives to readers. Those of you that subscribe to our newsletter know that we often offer deep discounts on print titles through the Createspace store. Because we have no control over sales in retail channels, we are losing the option to offer convenient discounts to readers.

We could, of course, offer sales directly through our own site via Paypal or a storefront, but frankly this is not a cost-effective means of doing business. It would require maintaining an inventory of books. It would require having someone manually fulfill orders. It would require in many cases that we collect sales tax and thus result in more tax filings. While we sell a lot of print through the Createspace store, we don’t sell enough to justify all of the additional manpower and extra expenses associating with selling through the website.

2. The loss of small bookstore/hobby shop sales. I work with a number of hobby shops and small bookstores that stock our titles. They currently buy those titles through the store with a discount code. I now have TWO WEEKS to figure out how to service these customers.

3. The loss of discount functionality for my contributors. I always offer contributors to our projects the option to get additional copies at wholesale prices. I do this through the use of the Createspace store and discount codes. Many of my authors take full advantage of this and buy copies for their own use for resale at conventions, giveaways to their readers, and more.

And make no mistake, this is just the warning shot. We’ve all been concerned ever since Amazon’s KDP program started to beta test print. We feared this might happen. This is the first sign that they are going to close down the Createspace service completely.

I’ve already been through this dance with Amazon. Over a decade ago, I was a publisher through the site mobipocket.com. Mobipocket was purchased by Amazon and its software is the basis for the Kindle format. Ebooks distributed through Mobipocket were sold on a wholesale program at 50% off the list. So if my book was listed at $4.99, I made $2.49 on a sale through a retailer. If the retailer sold the book for $3.99, I still make $2.49. If the retailer sold the book for .99 cents, I STILL MADE $2.49. I made good money through mobipocket.com because retailers would routinely discount my books to spur sales, and I repeated the benefits.

Then Amazon abruptly canceled the service. They killed countless small ebook sellers who used mobipocket to acquire ebooks in the process. Then they told us the transition would be seamless and they would automatically port all of our titles to KDP.

My books were not available for sale for over two weeks due to glitches and problems.

And let’s be clear, I ultimately lost money. Even though Amazon offers 70% revenue. I no longer benefit from sales. Amazon does not ALLOW you to even run a sale unless you are in Select. The only way to get a sale price on Amazon is to engage in a bunch of logistical gymnastics by listing your book on another site at a lower price and then hoping Amazon price-matches it.

I’ve been in communication with several fellow publishers this morning. Many of them relied on the store for the bulk of their print business. This may effectively put them out of business. While Bards and Sages Publishing is in no danger of closing over this move, it will negatively impact our business for months as we have to make abrupt changes to counter Amazon’s move to force us into exclusivity with them. Because make no mistake, that is Amazon’s goal. They want to force indie authors and small press publishers into exclusive deals. Even if that means cutting off successful services that those individuals relied on.

In truth, if ever there was a reason not to trust your business to Amazon exclusively, this abrupt, unilateral change should be a wake-up call. If your business relies on Amazon to survive, recognize that they can change their policies tomorrow, with no notice to you, and leave you out to dry. The reason why we will be able to weather this change better than many of our peers is that we have always spread out our risk across multiple service providers and multiple revenue streams.

I do not usually get into the nuts-and-bolts of our business because I realize most readers don’t really care about the business end. They just want to know when the next book will be out. But this change is so huge that it will cause significant changes to our business, and I felt it was important to communicate up front with both our readers and our authors so they understand why certain changes will take place.

For our authors: This change will not impact your scheduled payments or royalty schedules. In the short term, it may result in smaller royalty revenues due to the loss of print sales. However, you will still receive your normal reports and payments.

It will, however, delay some upcoming print releases. We are looking to transition to a new service, but this transition will take time to set up. We don’t want to set up new titles with Createspace at this point only to have to do everything again in two months or whenever they shut down the service.

For our readersWe are going to do everything in our power to make sure that we are providing you with your preferred formats. In the short term, we will not be able to offer discounts on print titles and some upcoming titles will be delayed. With the holidays coming, I recognize that this may be disappointing. We will try to come up with an effective solution as soon as possible.

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