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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bullshit, high prices and stupidity at InstantPublisher.com

According to its website, "InstantPublisher.com is the short run book publisher division of Fundcraft Publishing Company, the world's largest personalized cookbook publisher. Fundcraft started as a small publishing house in eastern Kansas in the early 30's specializing in short-run custom cookbooks for groups and organizations across the country. Today, Fundcraft ships millions of personalized cookbooks each year to every state."

InstantPublisher.com ("IP") is one of many pay-to-publish companies that demonstrate very few reasons to do business with them. IP is overpriced, inept, boastful and dishonest.


The page above makes some ridiculous claims:
  • InstantPublisher says it is everyon'e favorite book publishing company. It is not my favorite book publishing company. Maybe it's not yours, either. Maybe it's not the favorite of millions of other people. The statement is absurd.
  • InstantPublisher says it is "nationally recognized." By which people, in which nation, for doing what?
  • InstantPublisher says it is "quickly becoming the #1 Book Publishing Service." I'm not sure how IP defines "#1," but since most of its competitors are privately held companies, IP does not have their sales figures or other statistics and can't back up the claim.
  • This page, like others, has errors in English that should not be committed by a publishing company. "10-years" should not be hyphenated. Other terms that the company uses, like "cost effective," need hyphens.
IP tells us that "As a self-publisher, you can receive 50% to 200% profit, when self publishing."
  • That short statement is redundant, and demonstrates very bad math. It's impossible to receive 200% profit. Profit on book sales is usually somewhere in the 20% to 60% range. If you are able to get a book printed for a dollar and sell it for ten bucks, your (gross) profit is 90%. If you can get a book printed for nothing, and sell it for a penny -- or a dollar, ten bucks or a million bucks -- your profit is 100%. It can never be more than 100%



The company says that "InstantPublisher simply cannot be beat in the short run book printing industry." 
  • IP gives us an example of "250 copies of a 150 page book, which is 5 ½ x 8 ½ inches perfect bound with a color cover, your cost would be $3.17 per book." The price from CreateSpace ("CS") is just $2.65 per book (even if I order just one copy), with me providing my own cover design (for which IP charges 25 cents extra per copy).
  • The IP chart above shows a total price of $410.72 for 25 books. That is MANY TIMES the price from other printers, and probably eliminates the chance of making any profit.
  • CS provides distribution to Amazon, B&N and other booksellers, but IP has NO distribution.
  • IP requires customers to buy at least 25 copies. CS has no minimum.
  • IP charges $50 for an unbound proof. I can get a bound proof from CS for $2.65 plus postage.
The company says that "any person who writes a book can design the cover and text pages in any Microsoft Windows or Mac based program." The text samples below from IP's own promotional publication, show that the alleged professionals at "one of the top book publishing companies" have a lot to learn about formatting pages. IP's "high quality" work is as bad as I have seen from some first-timers who know nothing about typography. Apparently no one at IP even knows how to hyphenate. A publication that is intended to impress printing customers should not be ugly.
   

  
IP says, "InstantPublisher.com does not . . . distribute your books, except for free listings on our web site."
  • Other companies, including CS and Lightning Source, provide worldwide distribution to booksellers -- and charge less. The value of a listing on the IP site is approximately zero. IP expects its authors to become booksellers. Other companies do not.
The IP website provides information on its authors' books -- but does not allow prospective readers to order the books.
  • Competitors such as CS, Lulu and Outskirts do sell books for their authors. 
IP says, "With an extra $0.25/book cost, you can optionally select plastic lamination for your cover finishing."
  • Other companies provide laminated covers at no additional charge.
IP says, "If you already have an ISBN number, Instantpublisher.com . . . can create the barcode for $15.00 during the order process.
  • Other companies will provide the barcode for free.
IP says it "offers two different ISBN options. The first ISBN option retails for $75. This number will list Instantpublisher as the publisher of record and we will be listed as the main contact for your book."
  • CreateSpace and other companies can provide an ISBN for free.
IP says, "By accessing, using or browsing this SITE, you (the "USER") are deemed to have read, understood and agreed to each of the terms, conditions, and notices set forth in this AGREEMENT. In addition, when using any particular content or service on this SITE, USER shall also be subject to and deemed to have read, understood and agreed to any posted guidelines or rules applicable to such content and services that may contain terms and conditions in addition to the terms, conditions and notices set forth in this AGREEMENT.
  • Amazing. If I read anything on the website, IP assumes that I agree to all of its terms, even if I did not see or read the terms.
IP says that "Black and white books will be printed on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. Color book proofs will be trimmed to size. If you do want a proof copy of your book before printing, there will be a flat charge of $50.00 for any color book order and any black & white book order that is under 200 copies. For black & white book order that is over 200 copies, the proof copy cost is $30.00. With the proof copy option, you will be mailed an unbound proof of your book and cover."
  • I can get a bound proof (with proper color cover and proper-size pages) from CS for about three bucks plus postage.

In conclusion, there seems to be little or no reason to use Instantpublisher.com. I sent IP an email asking, "Do you have some advantage that I did not see?" I did not receive a response.




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48 comments:

  1. Michael, there is so much bull on the web. Thanks for pointing this mob out. However, if you buy something for $1.00 and sell it for $2.00 this is 100% profit. If the cost of publishing a book is, say, $4.00, and you sell it for $12.00, you make a 200% profit on the cost of publishing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Happy, that's not the normal way of calculating gross profit (a.k.a. markup) in retailing. Profit is the percentage of the selling price "after" the cost of the product. For many years, clothing retailers operated with a 40% markup, meaning that they bought a shirt for $6 and sold for $10. Jewelers, OTOH, had "keystone" markup of 50%, selling for twice their cost. In the book biz, a bookseller's "discount" is the same as the markup percentage with other products. If I allow Amazon a 20% discount (markup, or gross profit), it buys for $8 and sells for $10.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There must be something that I am missing in your comparison of IP w/ CS's pricing. You said that CS requires no minimum copies and will charge you only $6 per copy, even if you just want one copy of a book. A quick check reveals something different. First of all, CS is Amazon-owned. Secondly, they seem to require membership for "free" publishing, whatever that term means in their lexicon. Thirdly, based on their fee schedule, there is more than meets the eye. Thanks for revealing IP's scams. But I must caution potential users of CS against jumping from the frying pan into the proverbial fire.

      Delete
    2. (1) So what if CS is owned by Amazon? Is that a problem?

      (2) There is no membership fee at CS and the former extra-cost Pro Plan is now free.

      (3) What does not meet the eye at CS?

      Delete
    3. Michael, I am not going to engage in a diatribe w/you. You seem to hold everyone else at a higher standard than that which you ought to be held to. For instance, you rail at others for simple grammatical or typographical errors. But when you are caught in similar errors, you simply dismiss them as a function of your "old age", and things of that sort. I agree that publishers of books should know better. But you are not dealing with Simon and Schuster or Alfred Knopf or reputable publishing companies. The nature of vantage press is that the author is responsible for the contents. Many of them accept manuscripts for publication on an “as is” basis, notwithstanding some puffing or grand standing on their part. These vantage book publishers and their editorial staff should be held at no higher standard than someone, such as yourself (who claims to be a former journalist now turned into an author of books) when it comes to the proper usage of the English language.

      Now, back to your reply to my comments. My point about CS being owned by Amazon is that Amazon is in the "business" of selling books, among other things. No business of any kind can sustain itself by perpetually losing profits. It is not likely, in my estimation, that they would engage in publishing books for the public and absorbing all related costs, without some financial gain to them in some form. As I said, I have not dealt with CS before, as you have. I only base my comments on a cursory reading of their website information. So, on that score, I must defer to your “expertise” in dealing with them. I just have my doubts based on rational interpretation of their web blogs.

      You say that "I can get a bound proof from CS for $2.65 plus postage." Nowhere on their website is that information plainly stated for everyone to see. To the contrary, under "fees" for printing and scanning on their website, they charge a hefty "$39 per book" to scan pdf books, etc. That does not even address costs associated with editorial assistance from them, which may cost a would be author approximately $400 per book !!!!
      Have a great day.

      Delete
    4. OK, Anony, I'll play a little longer:

      (1) Books and websites -- especially for publishers -- should be edited better than blogs.

      (2) You are confusing "vanity press" with "Vantage Press."

      (3) No publisher should publish unedited crap.

      (4) Amazon makes money. Maybe not many billions each year, but it is profitable.

      (5) The price of a bound proof from CS varies with the page count and maybe page size. I've paid $2.48, $2.50, $4.52 and $5.24 for various books.

      (6) The $39 fee for scanning seems reasonable, but is not a routine part of publishing. I've published nearly 40 books and have never needed scanning. I doubt that many self-pubbers need it.

      (7) I hire independent editors and have no idea what CS charges for editing. $400 could be a good price depending on the experience and talent of the editor and the type and size of the book. IP doesn't seem to offer editing.

      (8) Despite its name IP is not a publisher. It's a printer. And it doesn't print in an instant. It apparently takes about as long as CS and Lightning Source to print and ship.

      Delete
    5. Thanks for the clarification, "Mikey". I might need some useful suggestions from you before submitting my manuscript to CS or other publishers. Until then, let's call it a day.

      Delete
    6. Postscript:
      Oh, by the way, Michael, on item #2 of your reply above, I was correct. "Vantage Press" was just another form of the vanity press operations which rely in large part on authors to foot the bills for having their works published. But, based on a letter issued from their lawyers in Massachusetts, Vantage Press has "ceased to be a going concern", as of December of 2012, due to financial constraints. It is stated in Wikipedia that "Vantage was found [sic] in 1949 as a classic vanity press operation, with authors paying a premium to the company to print and bind their books."

      Delete
    7. Anony -- You were _not_ correct. I know a bit more about the publishing business, and a lot more about Vantage Press, than you do. "Vantage press" is not a synonym for "vanity press."

      You wrote: >>The nature of vantage press is that the author is responsible for the contents. Many of them accept manuscripts for publication on an “as is” basis, notwithstanding some puffing or grand standing on their part. These vantage book publishers <<

      Did you forget what you wrote?

      VP was a specific 'vanity press' (now called a "self-publishing company"). I was friendly with the recent owners and wrote about the company here and in several books.

      Delete
    8. Anony -- I am _not_ "Mikey." He's on American Chopper.

      Why are you afraid or ashamed to use your real name? Is it a weird name, or are you afraid that people will realize how ignorant you are?

      Delete
    9. i believe calling someone else ignorant makes you really ignorant lol

      Delete
    10. Anony -- I know enough to recognize your ignorance. You should get your facts straight before tapping the keyboard, and don't use a juvenile "lol" when delivering lame insults.

      Maybe if you became more knowledgeable and competent it would not be necessary to hide your identity.

      Does your mommy know you're using her computer?

      Delete
    11. I have an idea for a book, though I am not a writer. My vocabulary is very limited so I decided to search the web for assistance. This is when I ran across this article.

      I know this is an old post, but if I were a publisher, I would delete it. I would not want anyone with the hopes of becoming a writer to hear publishers arguing like children. It makes us wander if we want to become anything like you.

      Thanks for the promising motivational speech! Your both a couple of old, childish, pig headed, high strung novelists that shouldn't even be allowed to own a pensile and piece of paper!

      Delete
  3. Michael, it might be to your advantage that you do a little research on maths and delete these posts.

    Your example of $6 being marked-up to $10 is calculated 4/6x100/1=66% not 40% as you say. 40% of $6 is $2.40, not $4.00. The marked-up price would be $8.40 not $10, as you say.

    Discount and markup are not the same.

    best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  4. Happy, I base my math on many years' experience in retail, and my trusty Texas Instruments BA-20 "profit Manager" calculator. If I key-in 6 for cost and 10 for selling price, it says the profit margin is 40%. Also, see http://www.dmsretail.com/retailmath.htm and http://www.uniquebusinessdevelopment.com/toolkit/topics/m2y3.htm

    Again, In the book biz, a bookseller's "discount" is the same as the markup percentage with other products.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wish I would have read this before I dealt with this company, by far the WORSE experience I have EVER had with a printing company.

    ReplyDelete
  6. These negative remarks of Instant Publisher are completely false.

    As you can see, they give quite a bit of attention to a company that is of no consequence to their own.

    The math is defintely incorrect. The price of a book is the design of an author. I for one feel my work commands a 70% minus publishing costs.

    The quality is unmatched elsewhere and you don't have those telemarketeres calling you seeking to get your business with absolutely uncompetitive costs, BIG.

    Weren't you taught not to mention your competition,lest they upstage your own.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well If not Instant Publisher, then what companies would you suggest?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Replies
    1. Sir, does Createspace publish coloring books?

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. I found Smashwords very hard to use, and I gave up. I use eBookit for broad distribution, and KDP for Amazon only.

      Delete
  10. What do you know about PublishAmerica?

    ReplyDelete
  11. For Anonymous: PA is the worst publisher in the world. See http://www.bookmakingblog.com/2009/11/this-publishers-real-story-is-stranger.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. Instant Publisher produced a nice local history book for me. I was well satisfied with the overall quality and fast lead time. The book sold well so I ordered 300 more copies. I received a call that they had printed all of the pages and before binding, noticed that my title page and the chapter pages that followed would be on the back (left side) because my PDF submitted started with a blank page. I was told they hired new personnel since my first printing and they did not catch this before 300 books worth of paper was printed. The President of the company, Chris, ruled that I must pay $2.00 extra per book to get the second printing. I have begun another book that should do well and I'll be using Createspace.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have used InstantPublisher.com for both my books. 8 1/2 by 11, 111 pages, about $4 per book plus shipping when I order 250 copies. Excellent professional quality, reorders arrive in about a week, I have no complaints.

    I sell my books only through my website. Probably not the best idea for sheer profit, but I like personal contact with every customer, and I have total control of everything, including price. My books sell slowly but steadily - I've made about $150 to $200 a month profit for the past six years. A lot better than magazine articles, where you get paid once. I get paid over and over and over again, every time I sell a book, for the same material.

    My best selling book is at http://treasuremanual.com.

    ---Dan Hughes, http://danhughes.net

    ReplyDelete
  14. You're getting a book done for 2 to 3 bucks and you are really asking for Platinum Service. This is why I hate reading complaints from emotional people. You want someone to take your so called great book and sell it for you. It's your product why can't you sell it?

    I like IP and detest, loathe and abstain from all the other printers as they try to take royalties from the book like they are providing a service. I just wanted a printer not a wannabe fake ass publisher who does things I can do for myself.

    Maybe your a artist and you want people to realize your greatness. Instead of a author who wrote a book and simply is trying to get attention for the content. You need to relax and do what everyone else has to do in this field and that is promote your book yourself. A printer is a printer not your daddy or sugardaddy in your case.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Are there any other free publishing websites, besides CS, that you would recommend Michael? I've had a book I was looking to publish for many years but I'm leery about sending out to just anyone. I like to compare a few to see which one is the better one myself. I'm not one to believe what in what other people say unless I see it for myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CS is the only one I can recommend from experience. Lulu does good work but its prices make it very hard for a book to be competitive and profitable.

      Delete
  16. I am looking for a publishing site, and found this blog. From skimming through this post and the replies, it seems that Michael Marcus is out for anyone other than CS. Based on what a jerk he sounds like, I'm staying away from CS. He must be a paid mouthpiece for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anony -- If you can prove that I am "a paid mouthpiece" for CS I'll give you every cent they pay me.

      If you can't prove it, apologize and STFU!

      By the way, does you mommy know you're using her computer?

      Also, are you afraid to use you're real name because you don't want people to realize what a jerk you are?

      FWIW, Lulu is making some major changes and its pricing should become competitive with CS and LS.

      Also, if you are staying away from CS because I criticized IP you are an incompetent fool who probably should not be publishing.

      Delete
  17. Sort of a hatchet piece with a lot of petty criticisms. (Bludgeoning them because they really don't publish "instantly"? Really) I'm wondering what put the bug under your bonnet.

    In any case, I've worked with Instantpublisher since 2006, publishing books in both hard and soft cover. The quality has been excellent and has even received positive feedback in contests such as Writer's Digest Self-published Books Contest. Readers have enjoyed the quality as well, often referring to the hard-cover editions as "heirloom quality" keepsakes. To date, I have sold almost 10,000 books. Turn-around on soft cover is an admirable two weeks, typically. Re-orders, about a week. Hard covers, sometimes three weeks or so.

    There may indeed be publishers out there that take advantage of fledgling authors with high up-front fees and inflated charges for services. Your ire would better be directed at these.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Bludgeoning" is in the eye of the beholder. However, if a company's name is dishonest, it's hard to expect the company to be honest about anything.

      My bonnet is bugged because I dislike IP's dishonesty, egomania, incompetence, overcharging, limited service and restrictive policies.

      Sadly, other companies have the same faults and I frequently direct my ire at them, too.

      Delete
  18. Wow. Well I've used Instantpublisher for years to print my books and found their process etc worth everything. Just because someone is less expensive doesn't make them the best. You seem to say alot about Createspace....do you work for them or something? Are you getting a kickback? I think anyone searching for a self-publisher should start by reading the book "The Fine Art of Self-Publishing" by Mark Levine. He did the EXTENSIVE research on approximately 20 publishers and put his findings in the book (funny thing Instantpublisher is not included..I would have liked to hear his review).

    It just sounds like you are very bitter and angry with IP. What really happened? My experience with them just hasn't been so bad. The product was quality and except for a few minor fees, the cost to print my book between createspace actually wasn't that drastic. I also like how IP only requires you to pay HALF at the placement of the order and the remaining balance once the books are shipped. Createspace makes you pay the whole thing all at one time. That sucks when you may need a little time to pay the balance.

    I am not saying createspace is a bad company but you are really hyping it up like you are getting some type of cut for advertising for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anony:

      You are a paranoid fool. Createspace is one of several companies that produce and distribute my books. I do not work for any of them, and stand by my comments in the post.

      I read Levine's book. It's OK, but only OK.

      I am angry with IP because it is a shitty company. It produces bad books at high prices and has almost no distribution. That's a very serious limitation!

      No publishing services company is perfect but Lightning Source and Createspace are much better than IP.

      Delete
    2. I would love to take what you say seriously, but your use of expletives and insults cancels out respect. How much more pleasant reading it would make if the exchange of information between you and anonymous were kept at a civil level. It is possible, you know, to disagree without bringing out the machettes.

      Delete
    3. Dear Helmi: English is a vast language—providing lots of words for me to choose from. If my choice of words bothers you, choose your own words. Grow the hell up.

      Delete
  19. I have read your entire article about IP. as I mentioned in another post, before I found that this argument has been going on for 3 years, that I am a new writer.

    I am seeking advice and educational knowledge to assist me in writing my first book. One that I have had in mind for a couple of years now. But as I mentioned earlier, I have no writing skills, this is how I ran across your blog.

    I just want you to know that you are such an inspiration to us new writers. We all could only hope to become arrogant enough to continue to argue a point for 3 years!

    To me, it seems that it would be a disgrace for a professional writer to even waist his time blogging about such an irrelevant issue, unless you are simply blowing a lot of hot air, and don't have anything to write about. So instead, you waist your time trying to find something to argue about, or someone to argue with here!

    Also, if you are a writer, maybe you heard this one:

    "Profanity is the act of a feeble mind trying to express itself forcibly!"

    By the way, does you mother know your using her computer?
    If you can't remember, read your blog, you have used this line a number of times on different people. It's childish, grow up!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I bet you don't post what I just wrote!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (a) You lost the bet. You owe me a million dollars.
      (b) That quotation about profanity is fucking ridiculous.
      (c) Since you admit to having no writing skills (as shown by your use of "waist" instead of "waste"), don't write until you get skill. There are too many shitty books. We don't need more.

      Delete
  21. regardless the fact, if you are focused on good service for a fraction of the price .. google "Instant Publishing ATL" im based out of Atlanta and service worldwide. I design book covers too offering flat rates on publishing and passing the authority to edit and order your own copies to each customer after my work is done. Instantpublishing@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Dear Mr. Marcus,

    Customer Service is of the utmost importance at Instant Customer. We are a family-owned and operated business with over 60 years’ experience in printing and publishing. We have a full-time receptionist who answers the phone and personally assists authors with questions they may have using our automated service. Additionally, our president, Chris Bradley, is easily accessible if there is a question or problem with an order. We have published almost 1 million self-published books and the vast majority of our customers are extremely happy with our service.

    My initial response, as marketing manager, was to apologize to you for your poor experience with Instant Customer, however, upon researching your account, I found that you were not a customer with us. According to our president, Chris Bradley, “he (Michael N. Marcus) was never a customer. I emailed him and actually offered him a discount to try our service but he never responded.” This offer is still valid Mr. Marcus, as we believe we have exceptional customer service, quality printing and an easy submission process. Our prices are competitive for the market place. Yet, we will happily give you a discount so we can show you that our customers are extremely important to us. We want your experience to be exceptional.

    I respect that you stand behind CreateSpace (whether you are being compensated by them or not) and Lulu Publishing, but not everyone is as enamored with them as you seem to be. Read http://writersweekly.com/angela-desk/more-lulu-complaints-thinking-of-using-lulu-to-publish-your-book-you-might-want-to-read-these-authors-complaints-first-by-angela-hoy-booklocker-com-writersweekly-com-abuzz-press-and-pubprepp and http://writersweekly.com/angela-desk/createspace-complaints.

    Therefore, it seems 'to each his own'. We look forward to being of service to you if you choose to take us up on our offer.

    Best Regards,
    Kelly Wensley
    Marketing Manager
    Instant Publisher

    ReplyDelete
  23. I _never_ said I was a customer of Instant Pub. My evaluation and comments were based on the company's website. I stand by what I said, but I note that you have changed your website. I may re-evaluate it.

    As shown in the comments above, you have detractors and supporters. That's natural.

    I have not used Lulu for five years or more. I use Ingram and CS for print, and eBookIt and KDP for digital.

    I appreciate the offer of discounted services, but will not accept it for two reasons:

    (1) It could be construed as a bribe to win my favor. I want my readers to be able to trust me. As it is, some jerks think I'm being paid to recommend CS.
    (2) I don't think I need your company.

    Frankly I don't understand why anyone would use a company such as yours, with high prices and no distribution. Perhaps this has changed. I hope so.

    Thanks for writing. I would love to find reasons to recommend your company.

    ReplyDelete
  24. You are wrong on every count, and raging for who knows what reason. Get some help and leave people alone.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Dear Anony: You are a stupid, ignorant, paranoid asshole -- unworthy of the air you inhale.

    Why are you afraid to show your name. Will Mommy punish you for using her computer?

    ReplyDelete
  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete