Oct 102011

If anyone is actually reading this, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in almost two weeks, and that’s unusual for me.  I do apologize.  As anyone who’s not a full-time writer knows, life has a way of intruding.

You’ll note that the progress meter on “The Road to Rejas” is still moving.  I’m just over 7500 words into it and at this point I believe I can say with a bit of confidence that this puppy is going to surpass the projected 10k wordcount by a considerable percentage. Of course, I can’t predict how much of a percentage that may be, but I’ve found that the characters seem to have a lot more to say than I thought they did.

In the meantime, I spoke to Steve Jackson at Telemachus Press this weekend.  He tells me that Half Past Midnight has completed the formatting phase and is moving through the process.  I try not to bug him about it, but I’m afraid it’s difficult for me to leave things alone.  Luckily for me, Steve seems to be a very patient guy and doesn’t seem to mind my nagging.  (Thanks, Steve!)  :)

During the course of our discussion, I asked him about the current battle between Amazon (CreateSpace) vs. other print on demand (POD) companies.

First some background —  For those of you that may not be aware, CreateSpace is Amazon’s in-house POD distributor.  There are really only two big players in the POD industry; CreateSpace (CS) and Lightning Source (LS).  Nearly all other POD companies actually use these two for their print runs.

So what is POD?  Let’s say a small author (such as yours truly) decides to offer up their book in written format, and they don’t have the benefit of a publishing house to handle the print runs.  They then turn to CS or LS to offer the book as a POD.  That allows them to sell the book on Amazon without actually having the book printed.  The reader then sees the book offered, orders it, and it gets printed on a small press when it is ordered.

Only lately, that isn’t the case.  Lately, if you have your book printed by Lightning Source, you are likely to find that your book is “out of stock” with a 1 – 3 week wait time.  Needless to say, there has been considerable consternation over this situation.  Most people seem to feel that Amazon is using this tactic to force authors to use CS, where Amazon can get a larger cut of the author’s profits, and control a larger piece of the industry in general.

Now, as a newbie to this industry, I’m pretty concerned when I see something going on that can change the playing field in a realm wherein I haven’t even fully gotten myself established yet.  I thought Steve might have something to say about it, since Telemachus Press uses LS for their POD books.  So I asked him, fully expecting a little bit of a rant on how Amazon is trying to overstep, or strong-arm the industry, as I’ve seen posted at so many other sites.  Needless to say, I was a little surprised when all I got from him was a chuckle. 

It turns out that this isn’t the first time Amazon has done something like this.  It seems that in 2008, Amazon simply removed the “Buy” buttons on books that weren’t printed through their in-house POD company (at that time it was called BookSurge, and later changed to CreateSpace – I don’t know why, but I don’t think I would want the abbreviation for BookSurge associated with my company either. ;-) )  I’ve gone back and read through several articles and blog posts on the 2008 situation, and while I can’t find anything in writing on what actually ended it, Steve pointed out to me that while CS is owned and operated by Amazon, LS is owned and operated by Ingram Content Group, who currently has the industry’s largest active book inventory, with access to 7.5 million titles, and is absolutely HUGE when it comes to getting into brick and mortar stores.  I would think that Amazon would take a major hickey if LS were to shut off access of their books to Amazon.

So it’s two giants facing off, waiting to see who’ll blink first.  And us little guys who are trying to offer our product who are caught in the middle. 

How do we choose?  In my case, I’m a big proponent of finding the provider who offers the better quality.  Steve Jackson, of Telemachus Press, is firmly in the LS camp.  He claims that the quality of the product LS offers is far superior to CS, and tells stories of books with spines misalligned and pages curling in the air when left lying flat on the table.

I have read other blogs that say just the opposite, claiming that the paper quality of CS is better, thicker, and the color quality of the book covers is better in CS.

Robin Sullivan, who you already know is a guru in this business if you’ve ever read any of my other posts, or have read her blog itself, posted on this subject back in July.  She did a comparison of Create Space Vs Lightning Source that is well worth a read.  She compares the quality (among other things) and according to her, there is very little difference in the two.  As for the problems that Amazon has with LS and how it affects us little guys? Robin recommends examing your goals for distribution before making up your mind.  Both LS and CS have pros and cons under certain circumstances.  Are you going to sell in brick and mortars?  Are you going to sell directly through your website?  Are you going to sell only on Amazon?

Lots of things to consider.  Go read Robin’s blog if you want to see what else she has to say on the  matter.  For now, I’m just glad I’m only going ebook.  :)

In the meantime, keep safe, keep reading, and keep writing.

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