One final note on my Print on Demand venture

Ordered a carton of The Portal from my publisher last Saturday.  Lightning Source (the POD vendor) shipped the books on Wednesday.  They arrived on Friday.  Now they’re clogging up my kid’s empty bedroom while he’s off in the snowy Middle East.

There are now six vendors (besides Amazon) offering it for sale on the Amazon site. They’re all undercutting Amazon’s price of $14.10, but they all charge $3.99 for shipping/handling; you get free shipping from Amazon if you’re a Prime member. One vendor is offering a used copy, in good condition, for $999.11.  I wrote the book, and even I think that’s a bit excessive.

If you want one of mine, let me know.

Print on Demand pricing

One thing I’ve noticed in my brief experience with Print on Demand publishing: Amazon seems to vary its pricing constantly.  The list price of the book (set by my publisher) is $15.99.  When I bought the book from Amazon last Saturday, it cost me about $15.50.  When it arrived on Wednesday, I checked, and Amazon was charging $12.89.  Today they’re charging $14.39.  Meanwhile other vendors (available via Amazon) are charging from $12.04 to $13.55 (plus $3.99 shipping and handling).  Barnes & Noble is charging $12.89.  It’s entirely possible that I’m the only one who has bought the book so far, and that is somehow making Amazon decide to raise its price.  Come on, people!

Every vendor is claiming that the book is “in stock.”  What that means in this context, I suppose, is that they have access to the book via Lightning Source, the book manufacturer.  They obviously don’t have the physical book on their shelves.

By the way, the unit cost my publisher will charge me is $5.77 per book, plus shipping and handling.  The cost to me for a carton (24 books) comes out to $7.77 per book.

I was sorta hoping the book would be available via Paige M. Gutenborg, the POD machine at Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge. Alas, she only seems to handle books from Google Books. Here’s what Paige looks like:


To check out the Print On Demand version of The Portal, I placed an order for it from Amazon on Saturday, with my two-day Amazon Prime shipping.  It arrived today, Wednesday.  So they were able to print the book  on Sunday (I guess) and ship it to me on Monday.  And it looks great!

I’m going to buy a bunch for my own use direct from the publisher.  I should be able to undercut Amazon’s prices significantly, although I don’t know about two-day shipping.  If you’re interested in buying one from me, let me know in comments or somewhere.  The advantage to buying it directly from me, in addition to the price, is that you can get my autograph in it.  Which is, of course, priceless.

Print on Demand

My e-book publisher has started a Print on Demand (POD) service to go along with its e-book publishing services.  I’m going to try it out for Portal.

POD fills a gap in the e-book self-publishing model: some people just prefer a printed book.  A guy at work said he’d like to read one of my books, but what he really wanted was an autographed copy.  Can’t autograph an e-book.  (It seemed kind of weird that a co-worker would want my autograph, but not totally weird.  There’s something about a signed copy of a book that makes it special.)

There are two major players in the POD world: CreateSpace and Lightning Source.  This article explains the differences in mind-numbing detail and ultimately recommends CreateSpace.  My publisher uses Lightning Source.  Oh, well.  The publisher’s model, as with e-books, is that I pay them a (relatively small) amount of money to do all the prep work. They also handle the ongoing dealings with Lightning Source, in return for a small cut of the royalties.  You can eliminate the middleman and do all the work yourself if you use CreateSpace, assuming you have the time and energy; I have neither.  Per-unit royalties through my publisher are much lower than they are for e-books, because there’s so much more overhead in creating a printed book.  The idea is that most of your revenue would be from e-book sales, but the printed option is there for people who prefer it.  I can, of course, buy any number of books at a steep discount, and then sign ’em for my co-workers, give them away to passing strangers, etc.

POD is another blow against the business model of traditional publishing.  Time to give it a shot.