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.
***UPDATE: Amazon's CreateSpace service has now been superseded by its new KDPPrint service. ALLi now recommends using KDPPrint and IngramSpark together to publish your paperback books. For a guide on migrating your CreateSpace books to KDPPrint, read this post by our Watchdog John Doppler.***
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
KDP Paperback sales and ebook sales appear on the same monthly sales and royalty reports, which is a welcome convenience.
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.
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.