KDP Print – An OverviewAt a first glance, we can see that many of KDP Print’s elements are the same as those of Createspace. More specifically, the main steps of the upload process are the same and visually the digital proofer also is exactly the same. This does not come as a surprise since we know that Amazon owns Createspace. They most likely use the same facilities to print and ship the print-on-demand books to customers. If you’re curious about what the process looks like, have a look at this video that we made on publishing a paperback with KDP Print:
KDP Print vs CreatespaceLet’s start by having a look at what we can gather about the features of both POD services from what’s already out there. Here’s a feature comparison table that Amazon KDP put up on their website: But we can’t stop here. We have to dig further. Luckily, our friend Walton Mendelson from 12on14.us and selfpublishingforum.com took a very thorough look into KDP Print’s and Createspace’s policies to see how they stack up relative to each other. Have a look: Alright, from examining these 2 sources, right off the bat we see that KDP Print is severely limited in comparison to Createspace. The first thing that really sticks out here is that there is no possibility to order printed proofs and discounted author copies.
Printed proofs & author copiesThis is a big one. The one absolute best way to check the print quality of your book is by actually ordering a proof copy, holding the paperback in your hands and giving it a thorough examination. A proof allows you to experience the book in the same way that your customers will be experiencing it. KDP Print, however, requires you to use its digital proofer which simply does not compare to examining a physical proof copy. On a related note, you can check out this guide, on speeding up the print proofing process. What’s more, ordering author copies at a discount (at their print cost) to give them away, have them for your own satisfaction or use them as review copies, is not a possibility with KDP Print.
Createspace – 1, KDP print – 0
The Print AspectNext, when we examine the policy & recommendation comparison table, we can see that KDP Print is more limited when it comes to the actual print aspect in print publishing. No custom sizes and more limitations for bleeds, to name two. However, I assume that these details won’t really affect the majority of self-publishers. At least not significantly, but it’s still worth noting. If you want to learn more about this, I suggest that you have a look at Walton’s guide. Okay.. But what about the money?
Money, Printing Costs and RoyaltiesThe respective royalty calculations of Createspace and KDP Print: Whilst both platforms word it differently, it comes out to be the same thing.
CostsThe cost structures of KDP Print and Createspace are also exactly the same, except for one interesting nuance. With Createspace you’ll receive a higher royalty for b&w books shorter than 110 pages & sold in Europe.
KDP Print offers a fixed €1.90 cost for the Amazon.de market
Createspace offers a €0.60 + €0.012/page cost structureBasically, this means that with Createspace you’ll receive from €0.10 to €0.89 more per b&w under-110-page book sold in Europe. Here’s a good article that you can read to deepen your understanding around Createspace royalties. Aside from the Createspace’s upper hand in Europe, it’s a tie in the area of money.
KDP Print – 60 days ; Createspace – 30 daysIf you’ve had experience with both platforms, you’ll know that Createspace pays 30 days after a month’s end, whereas Amazon pays in 60 days. Once again Creatspace prevails.
DistributionWhilst both services do offer distribution to Amazon’s US and Europe stores, KDP Print does not provide publishers with the possibility to choose expanded distribution. If potential for extra exposure and extra sales is something that you’re looking for (who isn’t?), then you can put another fat minus sign on KDP Print’s score card. Also, what happened to Canada? (..eh?) KDP Print does not allow for distribution to the Amazon.ca market. Yes, the Canadian folks can purchase through the US site but it’s likely that many potential buyers are will not be aware of this and you will lose sales + readers as a result. KDP Print, however, does offer distribution to Japan, whilst Createspace does not. Perhaps a game-changer for self-publishers living in Japan or wanting/needing to sell to the Japanese market.
SupportAnother fairly important aspect to take into consideration is support. It’s not uncommon to occasionally experience some minor issues with any part of the publishing process. Whether it’s technical or perhaps something to do with payments, it’s always good to know you can pick up the phone and talk to a human to solve an issue you’ŗe having. As you may already know, Amazon KDP does not provide a support number, the only option provided is writing an email to their support team. Createspace, however, does offer phone support and from personal experience I can say that they do a good job. I also have found that KDP support is quite fast and efficient (usually). This, however, still does not compare to support via phone. Another point for Createspace.
Sales Reporting and AccountingOne of the major upsides of KDP Print is that it allows you to have both digital and print versions of your books in one platform, all in one account. Before the arrival of KDP Print,this point was not a possibility. The specific benefits that this brings are:
- The ability to monitor all versions of all your titles from one account. See sales of digital and print in one place.
- Accounting benefits. Having payments & reports come from a single entity may make things easier for accounting, not having to deal with 2 separate companies, with somewhat different payout policies, schedules etc.
Making ChangesThings are not looking too good for KDP Print. An interesting point in their defence – if you choose to make changes to your paperback, KDP will keep the older version of your book available on Amazon until the system processes the changes and makes the new version available. When you make changes with Createspace however, your book will be unavailable until the new version is approved. This means that during this time you lose sales and your amazon rankings are negatively affected.
The Round-UpOkay… It’s clear that Createspace is the undisputed champion here. Createspace doesn’t just outweigh KDP Print, it outweighs it by a gross margin. Here’s the tally.. Benefits of Createspace:
- Possible to order physical proof copies
- Possible to order wholesale author copies
- More favorable from a print standpoint
- Expanded distribution possible
- 2x faster payout time
- Offers phone support
- More advantageous for >110 page b&w books sold on Amazon’s Europe market
- Diversification between publishing companies
- Easier, faster and more convenient to set up a paperback book
- Make changes to your paperback without losing royalties and slipping in rankings
- Accounting and reporting benefits
- Distribution to Amazon’s Japan (.jp) market
Where is this going?Having had a thorough look at the current situation, it’s clear that for now it’s best to stick with Createspace. Perhaps it’s not even entirely fair to compare these two side by side, since at this point KDP Print is still only in public beta. However, this may change very soon, which brings us to the question – where is this leading to? I see multiple scenarios that can play out. Below I’ve sketched out my take on the several possible outcomes and how likely I deem them to be.
- Amazon decides to make KDP Print the only POD company out of the two. Createspace either gets completely absorbed into Amazon KDP or KDP Print is developed to a much greater extent whilst Createspace gradually fades into the background.
- KDP Print and Createspace continue to exist side by side but each of them offer slightly different choices and benefits to self-publishers.
- KDP Print gets shutdown, everything goes back to as it was.
***These are the possible outcomes for the future of KDP Print and Createspace. Please note that these are speculations, rough ideas that I have fleshed out here. Feel free to build on them and share your thoughts in the comment section.
In ClosingAs we have clearly concluded, the winner out of these 2 POD companies is Createspace. But for how long? One thing is for sure – the future of self-publishing is not a boring one. I hope this was article was useful.
What are your thoughts about KDP Print? Leave a comment and let me know.