I may be mellowing in my last pre-Medicare year, or maybe I'm in pre-senility, but I've actually said a few nice things about Brent recently, here and also on this page..
Now it's time to go back to my old cynical self.
Brent recently started a blog series where he addresses some complaints from his customers.
Here's the first:
"Even with a 99% author satisfaction rate, Outskirts Press faces 1 or 2 complaints a month from our published authors. That’s bound to happen, statistically, when you publish books by roughly 150 different authors a month. So I thought over the next few posts, I would address the Top 5 “Outskirts Press Complaints” that arise, along with what leads to those complaints and what Outskirts Press does–and is doing–to mitigate similar complaints in the future.
Outskirts Press Complaint #1: Annual Storage Fees
These fees fall under different names, depending upon the firm. Some call them annual fees, or storage fees. Others call them maintenance fees or distribution fees. No one likes paying fees, but especially no one likes paying fees when they don’t know why. Here’s why many self-publishing firms charge an annual fee.
All print-on-demand self-publishing firms that distribute via Ingram are charged an annual fee by Ingram for every book uploaded into Ingram’s POD/distribution system. This system is what allows a book to be printed on demand, and what allows a published book to appear in Ingram’s database so it shows up on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s website (among many others). The amount self-publishing firms pay for each title depends upon how many total titles the self-publishing firms have published.
There are self-publishing firms that pass along this cost to their authors transparently (clearly), and there are self-publishing firms that pass along this cost to their authors subversively (hidden). Outskirts Press passes along this annual fee transparently, meaning we disclose this cost up front. It’s mentioned on our website and in our Agreement. We bill for it clearly every January."
Brent said, "The amount self-publishing firms pay [to Ingram] for each title depends upon how many total titles the self-publishing firms have published."
A self-publishing company with just one title pays an annual fee of $12. Since Outskirts has thousands of titles, it's logical to assume they pay maybe $6 to $10 per title.
However, Outskirts charges its authors $25 for one year's file storage.
Brent said, "Outskirts Press passes along this annual fee [i.e., $12 or less] transparently."
More than doubling its cost is hardly a transparent pass-along. Outskirts is using the storage fee as another profit center, another opportunity to charge higher prices than independent self-publishers could pay elsewhere.
Some more examples:
- Outskirts charges $99 for sneakers that display book covers--that are available for $60 at Zazzle.
- Outskirts charges $99 for copyright registration. You can register a book yourself for $35, and it's not difficult.
- Outskirts charges $99 for a Library of Congress Control Number. You can easily get one for free.