Publishing with Amazon: 5 Things to Consider When Deciding If You Want to Be Exclusive by Krystena Lee
Where is your audience?
If everyone you know has a Kobo reader that is something you should take into consideration. But know this the consensus of every publishing industry news outlet is that amazon has the greatest market share of e-book sales. Also Barnes and Noble may have the second or third largest market share but they are losing money producing the Nook e-reader and their eBook sales have fallen 27% in the last year. Their closest competitor contending for the number two spot is Apple’s iBook store.
Whether your readers are using the iPad or another multipurpose Android device such as a smart phone or tablet to read their eBooks they can and more than likely already have installed the kindle app on said device. But hey just because one horse is leading the race doesn’t mean you can’t bet on all the rest right? Well the answer to your previous question may depend on these next two.
What does your timeline look like?
How much time do you plan to spend setting up and managing your accounts at the iBooks store, the Kobo marketplace, the Google Play store, Kindle Direct Publishing, and Nook Press? Is it your goal to release on every platform simultaneously? Every platform requires setup time whether its 5 minutes or 5 days. And you should be logging in regularly to check your sales and adjust your prices especially when you are doing social outreach and awareness campaigns and advertising. After all how else would you gauge your impact?
Is the ability to run promotions and giveaways on e-books important to you?
Nook books can be gifted by their publishers to bloggers and friends and family for reviews and Nook doesn’t have an exclusivity clause for using this feature. Amazon on the other hand requires 90 days exclusivity when enrolling in the KDP Select program which allows you to get paid for lending your book for free in the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Actually to enroll your title in any kind of promotion such as kindle match book (which allows you to offer your kindle book at a discount to readers who first purchase your title in print) or offering your title for free for a limited time requires an agreement of exclusivity for your e-book.
Do you want your print books to be available through traditional book retailers?
While we’re on the subject of Kindle Match book are you producing titles in print? If you are the publisher then you have two major considerations: production cost, and distribution. There are lots of presses and printers out there that can produce paperbacks and hardbound books so let’s focus on the real deal breaker, distribution. In my 5 years of research into distribution for POD (print on demand) titles I have found only two players in the game. CreateSpace (CS) and IngramSpark (formerly lightning source) are your only two options for getting print titles into the hands of customers online or in stores. So which one should you choose?
Don’t worry there’s no decision to make, do both. Each of these printer distributors serves a different purpose. If you want top Amazon ranking and optimal shipping time (via amazon) plus free title setup and excellent customer service then you need CreateSpace. However if you want readers to be able to order your books at the register of their favorite book stores or to be able to sell a case of books to your local church book store at a wholesale price you want to use IngramSpark.
The aforementioned is a service offered as part of CreateSpace’s expanded distribution (E.D.) service but the minimum price a title can be offered at in the expanded distribution program is higher than the minimum price for selling in print on amazon.com and the prices are tethered. So the price of your book becomes unreasonable when you opt in to E.D. causing many to opt out and forfeit the opportunity to have their books in stores altogether.
Are you planning to tour or sell print books directly to consumers?
Knowing that the only two options for distribution are CS and IngramSpark I’m not going to address any of the many other options that exist for printing books as I think we can agree that distribution is a crucial aspect of the publishing business. So If you’re planning to do any kind of direct selling whether it’s at book fairs, flea markets, or churches, not to mention if you just want to have a few books around to giveaway for whatever reason production cost is going to be a big consideration.
That is to say the cost you pay the printer for shipping you copies of your book has to be low enough that you can sell your books directly at a fair price (a price comparable to what your nearest legacy published competitor would sell at in Walmart) because that’s what people expect. Excluding the cost of shipping, which is always cheaper at Ingram, printing one 32 page full color children’s book cost me about $3.50 with CreateSpace. That same 6×9” children’s book cost me $1.97 with IngramSpark. Needless to say I get my print copies from IngramSpark which while more expensive to set up is much more cost effective in the long run.
In conclusion you could in theory sell e-books through all the available outlets but Amazon’s Kindle has made itself ubiquitous enough with the market penetration of its device and the accessibility of its app that it’s not necessary to do so. And as far as print titles go It stands to reason that an author publisher entrepreneur would benefit the most by using both of the only two options around CreateSpace and IngramSpark.
Krystena Lee is the author of the Memory Verse Kids Christian children’s book series. She enjoys going to drive-in movies, eating bread in Europe and laughing super hard with her husband and their two adorable daughters in sunny Florida.