CreateSpace, part of the Amazon.com, has recently announced a new online Books on Demand service.
CreateSpace was originally founded as CustomFlix Labs, Inc. in 2002 and acquired by Amazon.com Inc. in 2005. Prior to launching the Books on Demand service, CreateSpace was already providing inventory-free, physical distribution of CDs and DVDs on Demand, and video downloads via Amazon Unbox.
In addition, the company is no longer charging setup fees for books, audio CDs and DVDs. Authors, filmmakers and musicians can now offer their works on Amazon.com, CreateSpace.com and via their own free customizable eStore without any inventory, setup fees or minimum orders.
“The new CreateSpace Books on Demand service removes substantial economic barriers and makes it really easy for authors who want to self-publish their books and distribute them on Amazon.com,” said Jeff Wilke, senior vice president, North American Retail, Amazon.com. “The service will also give millions of Amazon customers access to an even greater selection of books, just as CreateSpace’s DVD and CD on Demand services are adding significant selection to our movie and music catalogs.”
Books on Demand works the same way as CreateSpace’s DVD and CD on Demand offerings. CreateSpace books sold on Amazon.com are printed on demand, display “in stock” availability on Amazon.com and can be shipped within 24 hours from when they are ordered. The books are automatically eligible for Amazon programmes such as “Search Inside!”, “Amazon Prime”, “Super Saver Shipping” and so on.
There are no setup fees or minimum orders for the CreateSpace on-demand service. Members are required to purchase and approve a proof copy of their book, CD, and/or DVD before titles can be produced on demand. Books published via the CreateSpace Books on Demand service are printed with high-quality, full-colour paperback covers. Black-and-white or color interiors in multiple trim sizes can be selected as options. Members can also order high-quality copies of their book, DVD or CD at competitive wholesale prices.
An important aspect of the CreateSpace service is that the creator of the work retains the rights to the work. There is no attempt to ‘muscle in’ on the future earning potential of the work, should it become successful.
The scope of the CreateSpace service certainly provides plenty of options for content creators, especially in video. They can sell in DVD, HD-DVD or video download. Blue-Ray is due to be added to the roster in the near future. Additional services include assistance with cover artwork, conversion of videos to DVD’s, high definition capture and authoring to HD-DVD, and high volume disk replication.
Steffen Hoellinger, writing on the Openeur website, compares the retailer’s share of a commercial DVD sold on Amazon.com with that for a DVD sold on CreateSpace. The content creator retains a much higher percentage of the selling price when the product is sold through CreateSpace. For example, a 100 page black and white book with a list price of $25.00 sold through a CreateSpace E-Store would earn the author a royalty of $14.85 per sale. This raises the possibility that CreateSpace might become a distribution channel of choice for authors, film makers and musicians. If a writer or artist already has a public profile, is it necessary for them to contract with a publishing company to publish their work, if they can sell directly to end users and keep a much higher portion of the retail price for themselves?
The CreateSpace on-demand publishing service is not the only one of its kind – Lulu.com also offers self publishing services for books, digital downloads, CD and DVD. If CreateSpace provides publishers with an effective level of access to Amazon.com users (in other words, items available on CreateSpace show up in the search results on Amazon), then Lulu.com may find itself being squeezed out unless it can form an alliance with another heavyweight such as a mainstream search engine or social network.