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Should Authors Move From Createspace to KDP Paperbacks? A First Look

KDP Paperbacks: A First Look

Should indie authors move their books from CreateSpace to Kindle Direct Publishing? ALLi’s Watchdog Desk examines the pros and cons of Amazon’s new beta feature, KDP Paperbacks.

The integration of ebook and print-on-demand publishing on Amazon is something authors have been requesting for years, so the introduction of KDP Paperbacks was greeted with interest. Let’s examine what KDP Paperbacks has to offer in the early stages of its rollout.

Setup

For new titles, the print setup duplicates KDP’s easy-to-use ebook setup.

There is a limited utility for moving an existing CreateSpace title to KDP, but in most cases, you will need to repeat the setup process, re-entering the metadata, uploading the manuscript and cover files, and selecting the trim and paper options.

If you republish the paperback through KDP and indicate that it was originally published on CreateSpace, it will be automatically removed from CreateSpace.

Covers created with older CreateSpace templates may trigger errors, and will need to be reformatted to remove the whitespace at the borders. Covers created with the KDP Cover Creator feature may raise errors during the preview phase, as the lower resolution artwork is intended for ebooks. (Most authors will provide their own cover art. Nevertheless, the inclusion of this non-functional feature in KDP Paperbacks left this watchdog scratching his head.)

Royalties

The Amazon help pages on KDP royalties are ambiguously worded: “Paperback royalty rates are 60% of your list price minus printing costs, applicable taxes and withholding.” Even within Amazon’s support team, it was unclear from this description whether printing costs are deducted before or after the royalty split, a question that has a significant effect on royalties.

After several exchanges with Amazon, we now have official confirmation (and independent verification) that KDP payout calculations are functionally identical to CreateSpace: they are (List Price * 60%) – Printing Costs.

Imprints

The imprint listed on your Amazon sales page will depend on the ISBN used. Books published with an Amazon-provided free ISBN will be listed as “Publisher: Independently published” on Amazon’s site. Books published with an ISBN you provide will match the ISBN registrar’s data.

Proof Copies

At-cost author copies and proof copies are not currently available through KDP. Amazon plans to offer these features at an indefinite time in the future, but at present, the lack of print proofs and author copies without markup are serious shortcomings for KDP Paperbacks.

Print Quality

KDP’s print on demand service uses the same network of printers as CreateSpace, so there should be no difference in quality beyond the occasional printing issues CreateSpace experiences. A few custom trim sizes are unavailable through KDP, but the most popular industry standard sizes are all available.

Distribution

Expanded distribution is not yet available through KDP Paperbacks. For authors who publish exclusively within the Amazon ecosystem or those who distribute through Ingram Spark, that’s not a critical concern, but it’s a potential deal breaker for authors seeking a convenient “one stop” solution for publishing.

KDP Paperbacks has the ability to distribute to Amazon’s site in Japan, a feature which CreateSpace lacks. That’s a potential advantage for international authors.

Reporting

KDP Paperback sales and ebook sales appear on the same monthly sales and royalty reports, which is a welcome convenience.

Reliability

Several ALLi authors have reported technical issues when publishing through KDP Paperbacks, particularly in assigning their own ISBN to a book and in linking the print version with the ebook version. While linking issues aren’t uncommon when publishing through CreateSpace, some authors needed several rounds of communication with KDP’s tech support before the issues were resolved. This suggests rough edges in KDP Paperbacks’ internal processes that will need to be polished.

Conclusion

KDP Paperbacks is a promising new venture from Amazon, one that promises strong advantages over CreateSpace. Unfortunately, the lack of expanded distribution, author copies, and print proofs limit the usefulness of the service at this time.

Until Amazon implements those missing features and works the kinks out of their internal publishing process, most authors would be better served by CreateSpace.

Keep in mind that the program is in beta, and some rough spots are to be expected. We look forward to the evolution of KDP Paperbacks, and will follow up with new information as Amazon continues to enhance the service.


OVER TO YOU
Have you used KDP Paperbacks? Share your experience in the comments below.

Can KDP Paperbacks offer #indieAuthors a better alternative to CreateSpace? - by @johndoppler Click To Tweet

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20 Responses to Should Authors Move From Createspace to KDP Paperbacks? A First Look

  1. Peter Hurley March 29, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    I’ve found KDP paperbacks very satisfactory – BUT KDP e-book option in a recent change to its terms and conditions no-longer allows you to automatically correct or edit you original text. Apparently to get any changes you have to submit a formal request to an Indian call centre, citing the original text, the correction and the line/page number – and they say they’ll get back to you within a week.

    So you have to be damn sure your script is perfect before uploading or your only edit option may be to withdraw your e-book from sale. This is not very author friendly.

    If KDP Paperbacks goes the same way, might bbe work looking for alternate e-publishers.

  2. On the rumour of CreateSpace being closes, Amazon has its own POD arm for professional publishers.

    Amazon POD is now redirecting indie authors to KDP rather than CreateSpace. From FAQS:

    “7. I am an author and I want to self-publish, can I take advantage of Print-On-Demand to publish my novel?

    The information on this website is intended for publishers, however Amazon does offer Print-On-Demand services for authors who want to self-publish. Please visit kdp.amazon.com for more information.

    8. What is the difference between CreateSpace and Amazon Print-On-Demand services?

    CreateSpace is a service through which both independent authors and publishers using POD can upload and manage their titles. For publishers uploading titles in bulk and with more specific requirements as a publisher of multiple titles, Amazon’s Print-on-Demand services may be more appropriate. For authors, signing up to Kindle Direct Publishing is the best option for publishing titles in both eBook and paperback.”

    With Kobo soon to be offering its own POD option with Ingram this should help open up the print market for indies as we wind down this decade.

  3. Karen Fredericks March 12, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

    I’m just getting my first book ready to put on CreateSpace – so what funny timing to see this. Can you tell me what, besides higher royalties would make KDP Paperback preferable to CS? And my book is a full color children’s book. Is that something that KDP will do? Many thanks!

    • John Doppler March 12, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

      Hi Karen,
      At this point, I’m seeing few advantages to KDP Paperbacks.

      As we noted in the article update above, Amazon was providing incorrect information about royalties: the payout is the same for CreateSpace and KDP Paperbacks when sold through the Amazon.com sales channels. That eliminates the one strong advantage they appeared to have.

      Beyond that, there’s the convenience of a sales report that shows both print and ebook sales, but the disadvantages far outweigh that benefit.

      At this time, I would recommend CreateSpace over KDP Paperbacks.

      As far as color printing, yes, KDP offers the same color-on-white-paper option that CS does.

  4. Steven Kessler March 12, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    Amazon advantage accounts pay the author only 45% of list price, minus printing costs. What sort of account on Amazon pays the author 60%?

    • John Doppler March 12, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

      That’s the standard formula for royalties for all CreateSpace and KDP Paperback sold through Amazon channels. Titles sold through the CreateSpace storefront offer the author a little more; expanded distribution sales cut into that figure substantially.

      https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/Royalties.jsp

      (CreateSpace phrases it as “our share is 40% of list price plus a fixed charge and per-page charge”, but it works out to the same figure.)

  5. David Penny March 12, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    Thanks John – one correction. It is very easy to bring an existing Createspace paperback over to KDP so long as it meets their more limited size criteria. I brought all mine across simply by entering the ISBN and all the metadata, cover and content were imported correctly.

    • John Doppler March 12, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

      Thanks, David! The import feature wasn’t working for me earlier. Hopefully, they’ve got that running smoothly now.

  6. Jennifer Peacock-Smith March 11, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

    Thanks so much for this. We have just been through the teeth-pullingly-frustrating process of doing everything through KDP only to pull it 2 weeks later and do EVERYTHING again with CS. Sigh… but

    1: your article confirms our experience totally,

    2: note that many of the actual steps (which remember we did with both platforms back to back) were MUCH easier in KDP than CS, even though some were harder.

    Ultimately I think that CS will cease to exist and in the meantime they are modernizing KDP but not CS… it will become seamless (cough) in time but if you want proof copies, author copies for giveaways and such then CS are the clear winner for now.

    • John Doppler March 12, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

      Great feedback, thank you!

      I agree, this looks like CreateSpace will be phased out eventually. I think that will ultimately be to the author’s benefit, but they’ve got a few wrinkles to iron out first. I’m confident they’ll do that swiftly.

  7. Nancy Gray March 10, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    I’m not sure that the formula that you give is correct for Amazon royalties. We have 2 books on KDP paperback, and since the very beginning our royalty has been the same as the createspace formula. Our 13.99 book at 60% royalty costs 5.23 to print. Under your formula, I should expect a royalty of 5.26. What I actually get is 3.16. In other words, the author pays for printing from their share of the royalties.

    • John Doppler March 10, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

      That’s interesting, Nancy, as that’s what I assumed the royalties would be, but the reps I contacted at Amazon were insistent:

      “…the right way to understand the royalty rates on paperback would be: (List Price – Printing Costs) * 60%.”

      “Estimated royalty is 60% of your list price minus printing cost, not counting any applicable taxes or withholding, which is (List Price – Printing Costs) * 60%.”

      Amazon has been wrong before, and the wording of their documentation is subject to confusion. I’ll kick this upstairs again to see how Amazon responds, and will amend the article if they provide new information.

    • John Doppler March 12, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

      Sure enough, Amazon was confused about their own royalty formula. The article has been updated with the correct information and Amazon’s response. Thanks, Nancy!

  8. Ken McConnell March 9, 2017 at 6:48 pm #

    My latest ebook is on pre-order and so I figured I’d have some time to bring up the KDP Paperback offering. But now the paperback is for sale and the ebook doesn’t come out until the 21st. It’s like one hand doesn’t know what the other is quite doing just yet.

    The good news though is that paperback and ebooks appear linked together on Amazon much faster than they do with CreateSpace.

  9. Keith Dixon March 9, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

    Thanks, John – looks like I’ll be sticking with Createspace for a while, then!

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