Expanded Distribution at CreateSpace

Posted on December 20, 2009 (Subscribe to Blog)

In my last post I said I was planning to move my books from CreateSpace to Lightning Source, mainly for better distribution and also because LS has better printing facilities.

Well, I spent some time the other night working through LS's online system, uploading my book files for Island of Fog and generally setting it up. I had to think hard about the price though. If my list price is $11.95 and wholesalers are only interested in stocking the book if they get a 50-55% discount, that leaves virtually no profit after the manufacturing cost is taken off my share. I started to think I would have to either bump up my list price a dollar or two, or limit the wholesale discount to 40% and risk cutting out wholesalers.

As I was pondering these imponderables, and researching a bit more about wholesalers and how they won't buy your book in bulk unless they get at least 50% discount, and how they expect books to be returnable in case they can't sell them, I happened to look at my existing book setup page at CreateSpace and found an option I hadn't seen before. In the Sales Management section, it has these options:

  • Pro: Yes
  • List Price: $11.95
  • Sell via Amazon.com Retail: Yes
  • Amazon.com Retail status: Live on Amazon
  • Sell via eStore Sales: Yes
  • Type of eStore: Public
  • Sales Region: US and international sales
  • Sell via Expanded Distribution: No

Wait a minute! "Sell by Expanded Distribution"? Where did that come from? And what is it?

I delved into CreateSpace's help section and found articles about this new feature. I then found their official announcement:

We are pleased to announce that CreateSpace will now offer expanded distribution options to allow our members to make their titles available to an even wider audience of potential buyers beyond Amazon.com and eStore. The Expanded Distribution Channel gives your books access to thousands of outlets, including online retailers, bookstores, libraries, academic outlets, wholesalers, and distributors. Expanded Distribution gives you the potential to distribute your work throughout the U.S. through our direct relationships with wholesalers such as Ingram/Lightning Source Incorporated and Baker and Taylor.

My jaw was hanging open a bit by now. When did THIS happen? Oh, December 3rd, 2009. Recently, then. So how come I didn't know about it? Because they never sent me an email, that's why! The only way to find out about this is to search the help section about this new feature, or be a regular on their forums where the announcement was made. *Sigh*

Okay, so there's a great new feature that allows better distribution. How do I enable it? Oh, look, there's a button under the new feature that says "Enable this now." Well, duh. So I enabled it, and now it says:

  • Sell via Expanded Distribution: Yes

Why on earth wasn't this enabled by default when they introduced their new Expanded Distribution system? Who wouldn't want to be part of this scheme? Well, anyway, it's enabled now... but what does it mean exactly?

Up until now, CreateSpace books have only appeared on Amazon.com (since CreateSpace is owned by Amazon). According to the forums, members who have enabled the Expanded Distribution feature have, over the next week or so, watched their books appear throughout the internet on various online bookstores including major sellers like Barnes & Noble, Borders, and so on. This means that, by pressing a button, my books should show up in databases nationwide, and possibly – although this is a little unclear – in Europe too. Certainly on Amazon.co.uk and in other countries.

So I've had one wish granted. But even better, this Expanded Distribution system has come about because CreateSpace has joined forces with Lightning Source. Amazon probably recognizes that their own print-on-demand system isn't a match for LS, and plus, LS is owned by Ingrams, the nationwide database used by stores across the country to order their books. When you order books from LS, your books are automatically added to the Ingrams database. So by joining up with LS, CreateSpace is expanding distribution for its members and (hopefully) providing even better print-on-demand quality.

There's even better news. By staying with CreateSpace I get to retain the lowest print-on-demand manufacturing costs (thus keeping the same list price of $11.95 and still getting a reasonable profit). And I don't need to mess around moving my book files to a new system and phasing the old ones out.

The only possible downside is that I recently bought ten ISBNs and spent a lot of time signing up with Lightning Source. But, I'm going to see how far this Expanded Distribution reaches. If it doesn't expand to the UK, then I'll use my new ISBNs and set up a copy on LS just for the UK. It would be nice to use my new ISBNs at CreateSpace, so that Unearthly Tales is listed as the publisher and not CreateSpace, but you can't just switch out an ISBN on a book – you have to retire the old book and create a brand new one, even if it looks exactly the same.

Anyway, the upshot is that I'm staying with CreateSpace!

Comment by CANAAN on Sunday, December 27, 2009...

Great new book! I absolutely loved the sequel and thought that it might even have been better than Island of Fog! I loved getting to know Darcy, Emily, Lauren, and Dewey way better. I have grown to find those characters way more likable now that I know more about them. Thanks for giving me a great new read!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, December 27, 2009...

Really glad you liked it, Canaan, and thanks for letting me know! So you think it's even BETTER than Island of Fog? *Big grins* I had the usual author worries about the sequel not being a match for the first book, so it's really good to hear you liked it so much. :-)

Comment by TORRE – FEARFUL ADVENTURER on Saturday, September 10, 2011...

So... how did it go? Are you still happy with CS? Could you drop by my blog and let me know? Thanks so much!

Comment by THE GENESIS CODE: GOD HAS SPOKEN on Wednesday, October 26, 2011...

We are in the final publishing phase with CreateSpace now. We are excited about having the Expanded Distribution Channel available to us.

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