Friday, May 19, 2017

Print books and where did they go

A couple of months ago I noticed something strange on my Amazon author page. Sidelined and Out of the Blues was listed twice. Okay. The second listing was for the print edition. Okay. Both listings undercut my listed print editions by a couple of dollars. Okay. When I went into Author Central to 'claim' Cold Shadow as my book (you do this so it appears on your author page making it easier for people to search your pen name and find ALL of your books) (note to authors, you need to set up your author page on Amazon and log into author central and claim all of your books) (why the hell haven't you done that? don't you want to sell books?)...anyway, when I was in Author Central I noticed that those two book listings had been added as 'mine'. They aren't mine. They're used book sellers reselling my books. They're not from me. They're not from my publisher, which is me. They aren't mine. I noticed that one more book was listed in a separate listing for print as well. One that I removed from publication in both ebook and print form.

So I went and checked those three books. I clicked the buy link for the print version of Sidelined in the original listing. It did not display the price I had it for sale for. It did display a third party seller as the originator. So I checked Out of the Blues. And yep. Same. The third book only has that listing. The third book was in the couple of hundred dollar range. It did not have an add to cart link. You have to actively click the link to display used book sellers. But it was listed on my Author Central page the same way Side and Blues was... as a second, separate entity.


Strange how things happen.

I read an article the next day that said that Amazon had begun allowing third party sellers to 'bid for' the buy button on print books. Usually these sellers were under cutting the publisher. And Amazon has no problem with it.

I read several people talking about it on social media and the general consensus is that it's a sky is falling article and nothing to worry about... but here I am with two books that have been hijacked by third party sellers... and no one even thinks it's a problem.


Do you know how much it costs to produce a print book? I've spent upwards to two hundred dollars for formatting and wrap covers. But it's more than that. I've formatted several myself and it takes hours. Hell days. Days of work staring at tiny print and hundreds of pages that like to reformat themselves and put chapters where they shouldn't be and blank pages where there are none... and then there's getting alternating headers and page numbers to be on the pages they are supposed to be on (hint it's not the cover page, or the title page or the first blank pages, or the copyright page or the well you get my drift). Getting the title and author name to alternate pages is tricky as fuck. I've spent upwards to four days just formatting a damned book and nothing else.

So, in short it costs money and time to make a print book. The bright side to all this is that Createspace doesn't charge to produce the book, they take the cost of each book out in royalty split. They produce the book and I get a buck or two afterward. They tell me the least amount I can charge for a book. I set the price as low as I can because print books aren't cheap to produce. I think I make $2.50 on one book, it sells for 15 or more. I can't remember what I have it set at. IF... IF you buy that book through Createspace. If you buy it through Amazon I get a dollar, if Amazon doesn't discount it.

To date I've made back what I spent on exactly three books. I don't sell many print books. The ones I did sell were through Amazon or if I bought them at cost and sold them myself for a discount.

And here we are with Amazon, who incidentally, owns Createspace, having started a second book printing business through KDP where we list the ebooks and actively trying to get us to stop using Createspace in favor of that service... and two of my buy links no longer link to createspace but to third party sellers.

And we won't even discuss how much you make when you list the books with other sites like Barnes and Noble... okay we will... first though, you have to raise your prices to an even higher list price for extended distribution. I mean really high. And this book that you just listed for 20 bucks so that you can get it on Barnes and Noble will only earn you a royalty of around fifty cents. So people who would have bought your book at Amazon won't because the price is too high just so you can get it on Barnes and Noble... and it's not worth it.

It's not worth the cost and trouble and pain in the ass to put a book in paperback.

It's not.

I did it because I thought people wanted them.

Anyway, long story short. I pulled all of my books from Amazon. I delisted several from sale completely. Right now the only books still for sale in print are only available through Createspace.... I know.... One Click... Prime Shipping.... I KNOW!

I made the decision not to put the two most recent books in print. And I was happy with that decision because I've never sold many books and I'd stopped selling books pretty much all together over the past six months.

I had several people tell me they only read print. Or they needed the book(s) for their collection.


So... I'm not going to put the books back on Amazon. And you'll notice the two books that do still have the add to cart option are now in the several hundred dollar range....don't buy those.... But I did go ahead and commission a wrap cover for one and will do that for the second one later this month.

I might not list them for sale at all.

I will sell them through my site. You can order them straight from me, I will ship them. And I will sign them. For less than Createspace will charge you.

I am currently taking advance orders for Any Given Sunday. I plan to order the first Saturday in June. You'll find a button in the header of this blog that says PRINT BOOKS! Check there for a direct to paypal buy button.

If there is a print book that I self published that you're looking for and it's not available through Createspace please contact me. All books with available print books have the createspace link on their book page. Please click the cover to the right side. Or the title of the book in the tool bar.


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