This is a technical post, so look away now if you’re not
interested in the ins and outs of distributing your books on Amazon!
As I posted over the weekend, we’ve set the ball rolling to make Pegasus Falling available using CreateSpace, and therefore always “in stock” on
Amazon in the US,
Before the off, I had a few questions, so I emailed the
CreateSpace team with them. To their credit, the customer service team replied
within 24 hours with a fairly comprehensive answer. As I’m sure the replies
will be useful for other self-pubbers who are considering using CreateSpace, I
thought I’d share them here.
Question 1: I understand
that I can upload my own files to CreateSpace, therefore being able to create a
virtually identical book to the ones I have printed elsewhere. As the
books/content would be identical, would I be able to use the existing ISBN
To be honest, this question wasn’t answered directly. What was
included in their reply was this nugget: “If you use a new ISBN for the title,
a new Amazon detail page will be built in stages over five to seven business
days, which will be separate from the detail page created for your Amazon
My main concern was that because there would be a few minor
changes to the look of the book (it will still look pretty much the same, but
I’m making some improvements to the cover artwork and minor layout changes to
conform with CreateSpace’s requirements), would I need a new ISBN or be able to
use the existing one already used and registered in the UK?
Bowker, the US ISBN agency has this to say about ISBNs and the
difference between reprints and new editions: “A reprint means more copies are
being printed with no substantial changes. Perhaps a few typos are being fixed.
A new edition means that there has been substantial change: content has been
altered in a way that might make a customer complain that this was not the
product that was expected. Or, text has been changed to add a new feature, such
as a preface or appendix or additional content. Or, content has been revised.
Or, the book has been redesigned.” Source: http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/about/faqs6.html
They key word here is “substantial”, so, it seems that because
there would only be minor changes to the book’s artwork, we will not need to
use a different ISBN. All that’s changing is that we’re using a different
distribution method. I doubt customers would be too disgruntled by the fact
that the barcode on the back cover has moved from the lower left- to the lower
One point I should note here for anyone else considering using
their own ISBN for a CreateSpace book is that if you do so, it does restrict
the distribution opportunities you can access via the premium Expanded
Distribution option, namely US libraries and academic institutions. The
expanded distribution option also allows distribution to other retailers and
via CreateSpace’s wholesale website.
Obviously, using a new ISBN provided by CreateSpace would negate
this issue and allow access to all distribution opportunities, but this would
cause problems elsewhere - the CreateSpace book would be considered a different
product and therefore listed separately on Amazon’s sites. The existing book
with the existing ISBN would still be listed as “Out of Print - Limited
Availability” which would be a disaster. Although it would be nice to make Pegasus Falling available to libraries
in the US, it’s not a priority, so I’m willing to forego that opportunity to
avoid potentially more serious problems.
Question 2. By changing from
using Advantage to CreateSpace, will this affect the book’s listing on the
Amazon Europe channels? As I plan to use the existing ISBN number, will the
system recognise the new distribution channel, or do I need to take any further
action to ensure this?
According to the reply, there would be a problem as long as our
Advantage account remained active because Amazon’s system would always order
inventory there rather than use CreateSpace.
Their reply went on to explain exactly what needs to be done to
transfer the title to CreateSpace, which I repeat here verbatim:
1. Set up your title in your CreateSpace Member Account. Complete
all steps for your title's information and upload your files.
2. We will then review your files to determine if they meet our submission
requirements. If your files meet our requirements, you will be able to order a
proof copy through your Member Account.
3. Once you receive your proof and are satisfied with the results, approve your
proof through your Member Account. Immediately after your proof is approved,
customers can start ordering your title from your CreateSpace eStore.
4.When your new title page is live on Amazon.com, discontinue your Advantage Membership or close out individual
titles by contacting the Advantage Vendor Services Team through your Advantage
In short, set up the title in CreateSpace first, then make sure
the title is closed out in your Advantage account soon after. When any inventory
left in stock is sold out, Amazon will then start ordering books through
It all sounds relatively straight forward but my concern with
their answer is that they refer to amazon.com. We’re signed up with
amazon.co.uk, so I’m not entirely sure whether the process will be as smooth as
they make out. I’ll report back if there are any problems.
Question 3: Can I continue
to print copies of the book via my usual printers for distribution to other
Their simple reply was, “To confirm, the Member Agreement is
non-exclusive, meaning you may pursue various distribution channels if you
This is fantastic news because, although you can order bulk copies
from CreateSpace to distribute yourself (either to friends or other retailers),
and at fairly reasonable prices, I’m very keen to carry on supporting the UK
printers we’ve been using so far. We still intend to print more copies for
distribution away from Amazon (we’re hoping to be stocked in more shops as time
goes on) and we can continue to support the British printing industry. What’s more,
when you order copies of your own books, these orders are printed in the US,
despite the fact that customer orders which originate in the UK and EU are now
being printed this side of the pond.
I hope these pointers have been helpful for anyone considering a
similar move. Whether all this means that the transfer from Advantage to
CreateSpace will be successful or fraught with problems remains to be seen. I
do wonder just how much Amazon’s US, UK and European arms communicate with each
other. Fingers crossed all goes smoothly, but if we do encounter problems, I’ll
be sure to blog about them and try and help others to avoid any unforeseen
we're currently waiting for the proof to arrive from the US. When it does arrive (hopefully within the next week), I'll be comparing the CreateSpace book with one printed in the UK. It'll be interesting to see how they differ and I'm really hoping the quality will be similar. Watch this space!
Happy reading and self-pubbing!
Labels: Amazon, Amazon Advantage, amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, book, CreateSpace, distribution, paperback, Pegasus Falling, publish, self publishing, self-publishing, writer, writing