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Self-publishing News: KDP Introduces Hardbacks As Print Supply Chain Struggles

Self-publishing News: KDP introduces hardbacks as Print Supply Chain Struggles

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at KDP's new hardback option and PublishDrive's print distribution.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

In the latest self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I talk about new features being launched on social media platforms that enable users to monetize their feeds. And on tonight's #indieauthorchat  at the usual 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time, Tim will guide us through a conversation about how Covid has impacted our writing.

KDP Introduces Hardback Option

It's amazing how often the big stories in a week focus on a theme. And this week that theme is one we haven’t really talked about for a while: print. And not just (not even) the resilience or otherwise of print sales. There’s definitely good news and bad news this week, so let’s start with the good. And it’s the news most relevant to indies.

One of Amazon’s worst kept secrets is that it has been planning to add the capability for us to publish hardback copies of our books. And the KDP hardback feature is now here. It’s in beta still, but it should have appeared on your dashboard in the icon you click to publish a new title, complete with a red “beta” ribbon. Talking of ribbons, one of the features early users are saying they really like is that books come with a nice coloured silk ribbon on the top of the binding.

Ingram's New Partners: PublishDrive – and AI Audio with DeepZen

Another really interesting development in print is the entry of PublishDrive into the arena. PublishDrive is known for its innovative approach to providing a platform for writers who want to take their ebooks wide. This includes marketing metadata advice based on artificial intelligence. It also includes pricing options based on a subscription rather than a cut of each book sold. The latest service PublishDrive has added is print distribution through Ingram. It looks, from the press release, as though this will happen through Ingram Spark. That would essentially mean that using PublishDrive for your print on demand titles is the same as using them to push ebooks to KDP: something you can do yourself but do through a single dashboard instead for convenience. There is a pricing calculator, though. And that means it's possible for you to calculate the cost of this convenience before committing.

Meanwhile, Ingram has also partnered with artificial intelligence company DeepZen. This offers authors the chance to create audiobooks using AI. The rate is around $150 per finished hour. The service claims to offer a human emotional range. This is both affordable and very interesting. But it also makes you wonder whether it is the start of content creators being eased out of the door.

Print Supply Chain Issues

But there’s also bad news. Globally the print book supply chain is in trouble. There are warnings that books may be in short supply before Christmas. Especially titles not yet published, some of which are already having their release date pushed back.  Unlike other supply chain issues we have been experiencing in the UK, this is a global issue. And at the top of it is the difficulty in getting printing paper to the right place at the right time. Of course, this isn't the first time I've reported on this. US printers have struggled to get hold of paper several times in recent years. But again, this seems to be a much wider issue, one not helped by the shipping backlog caused by the beaching of the Ever Given earlier this year.

There will inevitably be knock-on effects for those writers who do more of their business in print. And that's not the only thing to affect indies with a print component to their sales. It is likely that  anyone using print on demand services such as Ingram Spark or KDP will experience price rises resulting from paper costs. When considering the price point of your books, and retail discounts, it would be worth considering that the royalty you see at present might not be the one you end up with shortly.

The End of GDPR in the UK: Consultation and a First Look at What’s Planned

I reported recently that the UK government plans to end the UK's adherence to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The government has now officially entered part 2 of its National Data Strategy. And that means it has issued a 146 page consultation document, which you can read in full by following this link, outlining what might come next in terms of its data policy. This matters for any of us in the UK who handle other people's data. In general, this will mean those of us who have a website that uses cookies.

The UK government insists that while protection of data privacy will still be important it's innovation that will drive policy. That is likely to mean less bureaucracy. It could also mean problems where data crosses borders with countries that retain more stringent rules. As always, I will keep you updated. But do consider taking part in the consultation.

Audible Plus on the March

It has been another week in which the growth of subscription audiobooks has been in the news, with Storytel reporting 45% growth in Russia, for example.

But the biggest news for most is the further expansion of Audible Plus. The eat as much as you like subscription version of Audible is now available in Australia, joining the US, UK, Italy and Spain. Audible Plus has, of course, been at the heart of the Audible scandal. Audible had shown little consideration for its content creators, using free returns without transparency to hook readers. As Audible Plus grows and grows, we surely have to start thinking about what this means in the long term for us.

KDP now lets you publish hardbacks and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months. I highly recommend this great list of online writers' conferences from Nate Hoffelder, some of which are indie-inclusive.

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) – Zoom meetings the 2nd Saturday of each month


Historical Novel Society Australia, Writing Bootcamp, 16-17 Oct (early bird tickets until 24 September)

Over to You

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has One Comment
  1. You mention the option of creating AI audiobooks with DeepZen, but when I looked into it last week the audiobook distributors said they would not allow audiobooks created via AI (including DeepZen) – Findaway Voices, ACX etc all have a blanket ban. So what could an author do with the finished audiobook if it can’t be easily distributed?

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