Monday, September 28, 2020

Amazon KDP authors can save money and get books faster from Amazon than from KDP

When I began my publishing company, Silver Sands Books, in 2008 I used Lightning Source to print and distribute my books. I also tried Lulu.

For the last dozen books I've used Amazon's CreateSpace subsidiary (now called KDP) to print and distribute. It does good work, quickly, with no upfront cost and good tech support when needed. 

Every author needs copies of books, for error-checking, gift-giving, reviews and just keeping around.

Amazon sells my latest book for $14.95. With sales tax and free "Prime" delivery, my total price is $15.90.  

As the book's publisher, I earn a royalty of $5.96 per book, lowering my delivered cost to just $9.94 if I buy a book at "retail" from Amazon.

Naturally, I could order a book "wholesale" directly from KDP. My direct price per book is a very reasonable $3.01, but shipping and handling add $11.18 for one book, and sales tax is 90 cents, for a total of $15.09. That is significantly more than ordering from Amazon with a royalty.

As shown above, shipping can take up to five business days after printing, and cost as much as $18.97! 

However, the normal shipping time for orders from Amazon (not KDP) was 5-7 days in the late summer, but has recently gone back to normal speed. I ordered a book on Saturday, 9/26. It was printed and shipped the same day, and I should have it today, Monday 9/28—with FREE SHIPPING. 

Strangely, KDP does not seem to offer quantity discounts. Prices for one, 100 and 500 books are the same $3.01 each, but the shipping cost per copy goes down to just 82 cents each for 500 ($409.99 for 500). Total is $1,914.99. 

However, if you need large quantities (1,000 or more), you'd probably save money by using an offset printer, not a print-on-demand ("POD") printer like KDP. 

Shop around and examine samples.
  • BookBaby charges $2,551.04 for 500 180-page 6-by-9-inch books including shipping.
  • Steuben Press wants just $ 987.49 (plus shipping).
  • 48hr Books charges $2,231 plus $280.21 for shipping to me here in Connecticut.
  • Lightning Source's price is $1,983.90, delivered. 
  • Whitehall Printing Co. charges about $3,100 plus shipping.
  • The Book Patch wants $1,938.75 plus shipping.
    [I apologize for any errors above.]

One other thing, if you buy books from Amazon, you may raise your sales ranking, which may increase sales to 'real' customers who are impressed by your number.

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