Books written by Ray Sullivan

Monday, 9 April 2012

Why Createspace Is The Only Option For Print On Demand

OK, I'll be upfront, I haven't researched all of the Print-on-demand (POD) operators out there, but having spent some quality time with the Createspace process I can say I'm impressed.

The books I've received from them have been uniformally well printed and bound.  The assistance has been hugely helpful, yet unintrusive.  As I reported in an earlier blog, someone at Createspace noticed that I'd used the title 'DLF' on the cover of my book but had named it 'Digital Life Form' when I uploaded.  As the cover was an image, not text, it takes a human to spot that. It wasn't the result I was after, but at least it showed a real person was involved in the process, and that's a rare thing in this automated world. They've also pointed out where the page numbering is not consistent with convention, and given I uploaded a PDF, I'm inclined to think a real person spotted that too.

Fair enough, they didn't spot the attempts I submitted without page numbers at all, but perhaps that's a choice some people make.  I guess the placing of the  book title at the top of the page, while generally conventional, is a rule that's been made for breaking as well.  But in all, they have quietly and quickly helped me to make what I think are presentable printed versions of my books.

And you get more than a decently printed version of your book, using a process that is intuitive and reasonably easy to follow.  You get access to Amazon, and that has to count for something.  My books may not sell, but at least they'll not be selling at the largest online book seller on the planet.  True, for an additional $25 they will distribute my books to other sales channels but as far as I'm concerned I don't mind not selling through them, I'll stick to not selling through Amazon.

The only thing I'd change in this process so far, if it was in my control, would be for Amazon to establish a Createspace printing facility in Europe.  Those international shipping charges are a kicker, that's for sure.  And the delivery times if you choose the cheapest option appear to be both variable and potentially long-winded.  The first shipment came really quickly, but my second lot spent so much time in Germany I was expecting them to arrive translated.

Here's how I view the Createspace setup.  First, they've got the basic model absolutely right.  They provide excellent service, they let the author run his or her show and the tools provided are excellent.  I also suspect that they could take a bit more work.  Why?  Because they turn jobs around so efficiently.  The only delay seems to be due to the time difference between the UK and the US.  I'm not complaining about the efficiency, but the only explanation is that people, good, talented and very helpful people, are twiddling thumbs waiting for authors to upload their manuscripts.

So how can we help?  Well, uploading more books, publishing on Createspace will help.  Thanks to the online proofing capabilty they have introduced you don't even need to buy a copy - you can see how it looks, page by page and they'll even let you download a PDF to print off if you prefer or need to read a hard copy.  So publishing on Createspace is truly a free process if you want to (but I bet you order at least one copy of each book).

But the real force multiplier Createspace needs to do is get that European printing facility established.  If they want to set it up in my part of north Wales (an enterprise zone that is currently attracting Government subsidies) then, heck, I may apply to run it for them.

They don't need to replicate the Createspace process, in fact I'd suggest that those good people are doing such a good job they should stay as the centre of excellence they obviously are.  But think about it - European authors upload to Createspace, do all the hoop jumping required (with the help of the Createspace personnel), then their books are listed on the US, UK, DE, IT, ES and FR sites as well.  Anyone in one of those countries could then order from their local store and the books are printed in the European Createspace facility for non US purchases.  Do this and I reckon European authors will get off the fence and flock to publish on Createspace.  It might just elevate the Createspace machine from very good to great. 

And it may provide me with a number of alternative Amazon outlets to not sell my books from.


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