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KDP Print vs Createspace – Which is Better? An In-depth Look Into KDP Print and the Future of POD Publishing

KDP Print, Amazon’s new print on demand publishing service, has been released and made available to all KDP users as a public beta version. If you’ve found yourself here, chances are you’re curious about this new platform – what’s the deal, what is KDP Print really about and what can you expect from this POD company.

Well, dear reader, you are at the right place.

In this article I will go into the various aspects of KDP Print and see how it stacks up against Createspace. I will also explore some possible scenarios of where KDP Print could go in the long run.

Let’s get into it.

KDP Print – An Overview

At a first glance, we can see that many of KDP Print’s elements are the same as those of Createspace. More specifically, the main steps of the upload process are the same and visually the digital proofer also is exactly the same.

This does not come as a surprise since we know that Amazon owns Createspace. They most likely use the same facilities to print and ship the print-on-demand books to customers.

If you’re curious about what the process looks like, have a look at this video that we made on publishing a paperback with KDP Print:

KDP Print vs Createspace

Let’s start by having a look at what we can gather about the features of both POD services from what’s already out there.

Here’s a feature comparison table that Amazon KDP put up on their website:

 

But we can’t stop here. We have to dig further.

Luckily, our friend Walton Mendelson from 12on14.us and selfpublishingforum.com took a very thorough look into KDP Print’s and Createspace’s policies to see how they stack up relative to each other. Have a look:

 

Alright, from examining these 2 sources, right off the bat we see that KDP Print is severely limited in comparison to Createspace. The first thing that really sticks out here is that there is no possibility to order printed proofs and discounted author copies.

Printed proofs & author copies

This is a big one.

The one absolute best way to check the print quality of your book is by actually ordering a proof copy, holding the paperback in your hands and giving it a thorough examination. A proof allows you to experience the book in the same way that your customers will be experiencing it. KDP Print, however, requires you to use its digital proofer which simply does not compare to examining a physical proof copy. On a related note, you can check out this guide, on speeding up the print proofing process.

What’s more, ordering author copies at a discount (at their print cost) to give them away, have them for your own satisfaction or use them as review copies, is not a possibility with KDP Print.

Createspace – 1, KDP print – 0

The Print Aspect

Next, when we examine the policy & recommendation comparison table, we can see that KDP Print is more limited when it comes to the actual print aspect in print publishing. No custom sizes and more limitations for bleeds, to name two.

However, I assume that these details won’t really affect the majority of self-publishers. At least not significantly, but it’s still worth noting.

If you want to learn more about this, I suggest that you have a look at Walton’s guide.

Okay.. But what about the money?

 

Money, Printing Costs and Royalties

The respective royalty calculations of Createspace and KDP Print:

 

Whilst both platforms word it differently, it comes out to be the same thing.

Costs

The cost structures of KDP Print and Createspace are also exactly the same, except for one interesting nuance. With Createspace you’ll receive a higher royalty for b&w books shorter than 110 pages & sold in Europe.

KDP Print offers a fixed €1.90 cost for the Amazon.de market

Createspace offers a €0.60 + €0.012/page cost structure

Basically, this means that with Createspace you’ll receive from €0.10 to €0.89 more per b&w under-110-page book sold in Europe.

Here’s a good article that you can read to deepen your understanding around Createspace royalties.

Aside from the Createspace’s upper hand in Europe, it’s a tie in the area of money.

 

Payout Time

KDP Print – 60 days ; Createspace – 30 days

If you’ve had experience with both platforms, you’ll know that Createspace pays 30 days after a month’s end, whereas Amazon pays in 60 days.

Once again Creatspace prevails.

 

Distribution

Whilst both services do offer distribution to Amazon’s US and Europe stores, KDP Print does not provide publishers with the possibility to choose expanded distribution. If potential for extra exposure and extra sales is something that you’re looking for (who isn’t?), then you can put another fat minus sign on KDP Print’s score card.

Also, what happened to Canada? (..eh?) KDP Print does not allow for distribution to the Amazon.ca market. Yes, the Canadian folks can purchase through the US site but it’s likely that many potential buyers are will not be aware of this and you will lose sales + readers as a result.

KDP Print, however, does offer distribution to Japan, whilst Createspace does not. Perhaps a game-changer for self-publishers living in Japan or wanting/needing to sell to the Japanese market.

 

Support

Another fairly important aspect to take into consideration is support. It’s not uncommon to occasionally experience some minor issues with any part of the publishing process. Whether it’s technical or perhaps something to do with payments, it’s always good to know you can pick up the phone and talk to a human to solve an issue you’ŗe having.

As you may already know, Amazon KDP does not provide a support number, the only option provided is writing an email to their support team.

Createspace, however, does offer phone support and from personal experience I can say that they do a good job.

I also have found that KDP support is quite fast and efficient (usually). This, however, still does not compare to support via phone.

Another point for Createspace.

 

Sales Reporting and Accounting

One of the major upsides of KDP Print is that it allows you to have both digital and print versions of your books in one platform, all in one account. Before the arrival of KDP Print,this point was not a possibility. The specific benefits that this brings are:

  • The ability to monitor all versions of all your titles from one account. See sales of digital and print in one place.

Plus, this also gives you access to Amazon’s more organised BISAC system.

  • Accounting benefits. Having payments & reports come from a single entity may make things easier for accounting, not having to deal with 2 separate companies, with somewhat different payout policies, schedules etc.

A downside:

The one major downside of this is having all your eggs in one basket (where the eggs = books & the basket = amazon). Although Createspace has been owned by Amazon for a relatively long period of time, both of these companies, by and large, have operated as separate entities.

Making Changes

Things are not looking too good for KDP Print. An interesting point in their defence – if you choose to make changes to your paperback, KDP will keep the older version of your book available on Amazon until the system processes the changes and makes the new version available.

When you make changes with Createspace however, your book will be unavailable until the new version is approved. This means that during this time you lose sales and your amazon rankings are negatively affected.

 

The Round-Up

Okay… It’s clear that Createspace is the undisputed champion here. Createspace doesn’t just outweigh KDP Print, it outweighs it by a gross margin.

Here’s the tally..

Benefits of Createspace:

  • Possible to order physical proof copies
  • Possible to order wholesale author copies
  • More favorable from a print standpoint
  • Expanded distribution possible
  • 2x faster payout time
  • Offers phone support
  • More advantageous for >110 page b&w books sold on Amazon’s Europe market
  • Diversification between publishing companies

Benefits of KDP Print: 

  • Easier, faster and more convenient to set up a paperback book
  • Make changes to your paperback without losing royalties and slipping in rankings
  • Accounting and reporting benefits
  • Distribution to Amazon’s Japan (.jp) market

 

Where is this going?

Having had a thorough look at the current situation, it’s clear that for now it’s best to stick with Createspace. Perhaps it’s not even entirely fair to compare these two side by side, since at this point KDP Print is still only in public beta. However, this may change very soon, which brings us to the question – where is this leading to?

I see multiple scenarios that can play out. Below I’ve sketched out my take on the several possible outcomes and how likely I deem them to be.

  • Amazon decides to make KDP Print the only POD company out of the two. Createspace either gets completely absorbed into Amazon KDP or KDP Print is developed to a much greater extent whilst Createspace gradually fades into the background.

Likelihood: I see this as a likely scenario.

Having Amazon KDP be the go-to option for both eBooks and your self-published may be an appealing strategic move for Amazon. I know that there are many self-publishers that would hate to see this happen but that doesn’t really change the possibility of KDP deciding to make this change.

And I’m not the only one thinking this is likely to happen. Diane Tibert expressed similar thoughts in a recent post.

Benefits: This would amplify the existing benefits of KDP Print. KDP Print would also probably keep receiving a lot of developments by Amazon. I am making this speculation because KDP seems receive updates (UI upgrades, structural improvements, releasing new programs & more) fairly often, whereas Createspace seems to have, for the most part, stayed the same over the past years.

Drawbacks: Losing Createspace as a POD choice and having to either settle for some lesser alternative or give Amazon a lot of control over your book portfolio.

 

  • KDP Print and Createspace continue to exist side by side but each of them offer slightly different choices and benefits to self-publishers. 

I think there is also a possibility that instead of crowning KDP Print the one of 2, Amazon may also decide to keep both companies running and use them to give customers more choice.This seems like a more positive outcome. Perhaps a point that supports this probability, is that Createspace offers distribution services for musicians and filmmakers as well.

Likelihood: This one also seems like a fairly likely scenario.

Benefits: The greatest benefits that would come of this are choice and variety amongst POD companies.

Drawbacks: It’s possible that this would create a situation where you must make compromises in some areas when you have to choose between the two. Probably still a lot more preferable scenario for most, than losing Createspace as an option altogether.

 

  • KDP Print gets shutdown, everything goes back to as it was. 

After all, KDP Print is still just in public beta. Perhaps Amazon is just testing KDP Print, seeing whether it could work.

Perhaps.. but probably not.

What I think is much more likely is that they have a general, overarching plan of how the future of KDP, eBooks and self-publishing as a whole look like and the master plan is gradually being rolled out.

Likelihood: Possible but very unlikely.

***

These are the possible outcomes for the future of KDP Print and Createspace. Please note that these are speculations, rough ideas that I have fleshed out here. Feel free to build on them and share your thoughts in the comment section.

In Closing

As we have clearly concluded, the winner out of these 2 POD companies is Createspace. But for how long?

One thing is for sure – the future of self-publishing is not a boring one.

I hope this was article was useful.

What are your thoughts about KDP Print? Leave a comment and let me know.

About the Author

Tomass Sarts is the founder of wordwave.pub, an all-encompassing resource made to help & empower self-publishers to succeed and to do it on their own terms. At wordwave.pub you’ll find actionable advice, guides, tools, video tutorials and a supportive community of likeminded self-publishers.