NOTE: This post was not designed to be a tutorial or forum on self-publishing and PoD. Please see the new section at the end of the post.
If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’ll know that I published Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change via Lulu.com–a publish-on-demand operation with no upfront costs and a coherent model.
If you go through some of the posts under the “C&I Books” category, and for that matter an essay in C&I, you’ll know that I’m happy with Lulu. They do what they say they do, they offer good help, and the book quality is first-rate, including an excellent cream book paper stock for the trade (6×9″) paperbacks I’m doing.
But that book is only available via Lulu and has no ISBN, for reasons I explained earlier.
CreateSpace has been around for a while as a publish-on-demand CD and DVD operation, with some upfront costs (typical of most PoD providers). I don’t know whether Amazon created it or purchased it, but it’s part of the Amazon group now.
Recently, CreateSpace added books to its repertoire–and eliminated the upfront. The book process involves assigning a CreateSpace ISBN as soon as you’ve established a book project (at no charge), and includes sales at Amazon.com (only the U.S. site) as well as your own e-store, unless you say you don’t want it available via Amazon.
Well, I thought, that’s intriguing. I went through the material as carefully as possible looking for gotchas. No gotcha on copyright or exclusivity–CreateSpace assumes I hold copyright and doesn’t require exclusivity. No apparent gotchas on hidden costs–I’m forced to buy a proof copy (at production cost), but I can’t imagine releasing a book for sale without a proof copy anyway.
Two semi-gotchas, but they’re both quite up front:
- The book paper is bright white (presumably 50 pound), not the lovely Lulu book stock. (Note that if you do get an ISBN for a Lulu book and offer it through Ingram, all copies not purchased at Lulu are also 50 pound white, not 60 pound cream.)
- CreateSpace takes more of the sale price than Lulu does–a little more for estore sales (unless it’s a thin book and you’re not expecting any profits), considerably more for Amazon.com sales. But the Amazon.com deal is still a whole lot better than Lulu’s Ingram/ISBN package.
And, you know, I can’t help but wonder whether availability on Amazon and having an ISBN might not yield some additional sales…
So I’m trying it out. Lulu will still be my primary outlet (I do love that cream paper, and I get the best per-copy proceeds for a given list price), but I’ve just submitted the Balanced Libraries PDFs (interior and cover) to CreateSpace. Once they’re approved, I’ll order the proof copy. If all goes well, I should be able to announce additional outlets (that is, Amazon.com) for the book in early September–and if that happens, I’ll also publish future PoD books in both places.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Update May 8, 2008: This post relates only to my own experiments in PoD self-publishing–not to the field in general or to extended discussions of CreateSpace or Lulu policies.
I’m closing comments on this post as of today for that reason. Anyone who’s interested in how the experiments are working out can click on appropriate categories–in particular “C&I Books”–to follow the story, albeit in reverse chronological order. Longer and more coherent discussions have appeared (and will appear) in Cites & Insights, in particular the essay beginning on page 23 of the April 2007 issue and the first two pages of the May 2008 issue..
It’s worth noting that I’m familiar with (specialized) traditional publishing, to the tune of twelve books. I believe in traditional publishing. I was (and am) trying something a little different here. I’m not happy with the tendency to conflate vanity publishing and self publishing, but that’s a whole different can of worms.