Print is Still Important


by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I’ve found that, bottom-line, readers are still interested in purchasing and reading books in print.  My print income remains a stable monthly source of revenue.  If there is any lag in putting a new release into print format, I do immediately hear from print-loving readers.  Now I start putting a new release through the uploading process for print (which does take a bit longer to go live) before uploading the digital format to retail sites.  I’d recommend that everyone offer their books in this format.

A little more information about print options and costs:

Options for the self-publishing writer: CreateSpace (Amazon) and IngramSpark

CreateSpace: “We make it simple to distribute your books, music, and video through Internet retail outlets, your own website, and other bookstores, retailers, libraries, and academic institutions. Get started today! CreateSpace is a DBA of On-Demand Publishing LLC, part of the Amazon group of companies.”

IngramSpark: “IngramSpark is a new Publish On DemandSM platform. It’s an easy-to-use, online publishing tool that provides publishers with simple, cost-effective access to Ingram’s global distribution network for print titles and e-book content.”

What I’m doing: I’ve got my print formats in both CreateSpace and Ingram.  I have CreateSpace for US distribution, not expanded distribution (these will all basically be sales of printed books) and Ingram (for US and worldwide bookstores and worldwide book orders…it’s cheaper for non-US readers through Ingram than CS because of  cheaper shipping costs).  If a reader asks a bookstore to order my book for them, it will be less expensive for the store and the reader to get it through IngramSpark.

Worldwide distribution: As Giacomo Giammateo wrote for ALLi (you should read this entire article):

“Ingram has an edge on shipping internationally. It is fast, easy, and far less expensive. The reason is simple. Ingram has printing facilities in the UK, AU, and partner agreements in Germany and other countries. I can ship a book to a customer in Australia almost as inexpensively as I can other parts of the US using Ingram. Ingram does charge a $1.50 surcharge per order for shipping though, and CS doesn’t.”

About those ISBNs:

I recently received an email from a writer who had picked up on part of an issue, but didn’t get the full picture.  She believed she shouldn’t make her books available through Amazon’s CreateSpace because they would be listed as the publisher on record and she’d specifically purchased ISBNs from Bowker so that she could be the publisher on record.

However, there’s an option on CreateSpace to list your own ISBNs or to use their free ones. Using their free ones would mean that CreateSpace was listed as the publisher. This also holds true for other formats (for Smashwords, for example, if you use their free ISBNs).

At IngramSpark, there’s no choice–you must list your own ISBNs. Be prepared to visit Bowker‘s site if you choose to go in this direction.  Although…personally speaking…I’ve purchased my own ISBNs from the very start and feel it’s important that my sales are both counted via ISBN and that I have complete ownership in every way of my work.

About costs:

Design costs: You will need to have a PDF of the front and back cover and spine.  You could go back to your original cover designer and provide them with your back cover copy, etc.  You could also (if you have the rights to your design), take the cover image you have to a place like Fiverr to get a full cover.  Author J.P. Medved wrote about his experience there for Lindsay Buroker’s blog.  You end up with something that looks like this (this is from my book designer, Karri Klawiter who does all my covers in all formats):


Formatting:  You will need to upload a PDF of your book that matches the print size you’ve chosen on CreateSpace and/or IngramSpark.  There are formatters who can do this for you, including mine,  Rik Hall.  You could also use a free online conversion service (Reedsy, for instance).  If you use Draft2Digital to distribute your books, you can upload your Word doc to their site and they will allow you to download a PDF).

ISBN:  I buy these in bulk so the cost is minimized. As I mentioned above, you can use the free ISBNs with CreateSpace if cost is prohibitive. If you use IngramSpark, you’ll need to add the cost of an ISBN.

Production costs: With CreateSpace, there is no production cost involved.  IngramSpark has a $49 fee for each new title.

Print-on-demand is inventory-free.  Readers or bookstores order books and they are printed as they’re ordered.  There are no stacks of books in our garages or closets.  In fact, it’s so inventory-free that I would urge everyone to make sure we do actually have a few, fresh copies of our books in case an event pops up so that we don’t have to pay for rush delivery for a signing.

Are your books in print?  What service do you use?  Thought on print or anything that I left out?

Options for putting our books in print and costs of doing so: Click To Tweet


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20 thoughts on “Print is Still Important

  1. Thank you for the information about IngramSpark. I’ve been using CreateSpace and I’m happy with it but my sales outside the U.S. of paperbacks have been minimal. Now I know why.

  2. A lot of work involved. I am glad my books are available in both print in eBook, although the latter far outsells print. And with audio books soon, I’ll have everything covered.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Elizabeth. I agree completely that people still want print, and it makes a lot of sense to provide it for them; it really does. I’m glad you mentioned Ingram, too; I want to check into that option and see what it’s like. I’ve used CS before, but not Ingram. I always learn from your posts!

  4. There is just something about holding a print copy in your hands verses eBooks. When I first started reading books on my computer I thought ‘Wow, I can enlarge the print and not worry about wearing glasses.’ But even with that advantage, I still would rather put on my glasses and hold a print copy to read. So glad you continue to offer your books in print.

    Thoughts in Progress
    and MC Book Tours

    1. Mason–There are some books that I feel I *must* read in print. Non-fiction, in particular, is that way for me. I can’t seem to get used to making digital notes on my Kindle. And gifts…unless the recipient tells me they *prefer* digital or that they have no more room for print, I like to give printed books as gifts. They certainly wrap better. :)

  5. I do print books only for my author table at conventions. They sell poorly outside of me personally selling them face to face. I love the covers for your latest. Come to my blog and see the cover for my new print book, THE LAST FAE. It is beautiful (since I did not create the image or the cover, I can brag on it!) :-)

      1. Thanks for popping over! :-) I had a bookstore, and my old customers remember me — it makes fact-to-face sales easier. But you make more sales if you can do it well in the digital marketplace for sure!!

  6. Great post. I’ve used Createspace for all my print books. They have excellent service and make a beautiful book. I used the free ISBNs because I was so broke, so they are the publisher which some bookstores just don’t like even thought the novels have won some important awards.

    With my third book, however, I bought my own ISBNs and I share the book ISBN that I set up with CS with Ingram. It wasn’t hard to do that. (Just have to fill out a form) I do very with book clubs who prefer books. Very exciting to visit and see them holding my novel in their hands. I’m also a best seller at my local indie bookstore voted one of the top 5 indie bookstores in USA.

    1. Janet–They run sales at Bowker, so make sure to keep popping over there to keep an eye on it. I wish they had some sort of email notification to let us know when a sale is happening.

      Yes, and that’s an important point. We need to make sure we use the *same* ISBN for the print edition for both Amazon and Ingram. Thanks for clarifying that. And congratulations! That’s quite an honor!

  7. Yes, buy your ISBNs directly from Bowker. The definition of a true self-published author is you own the ISBN and are the publisher on record with Bowker. (And if you’ve started a publishing company even for just your own books, buy from Bowker.)

    Lightning Source is $37.00 for upload, but they just started a new program and those approved will get that fee waived if they order 50 copies, plus the first revision is free. (Yes, I was so excited, because revisions are $40 a pop.)

  8. Hi Elizabeth – I love print and still prefer to read that way – but must tackle my Kindle at some stage …

    However – interesting and informative to read … and garner relevant information – thanks .. cheers Hilary

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