A note about pricing

Amazon/Createspace, the publisher/printer for Opalescence, makes their titles available to Amazon stores internationally. They also have an opt-in program called “Expanded Distribution” which distributes the print (paperback) editions of author’s books to various other non-Amazon markets. These include booksellers like Barnes & Noble, academic institutions and libraries. This is great for authors.

There is a caveat though, choosing expanded distribution adds considerably to the cost of the print (not ebook) editions of author’s books. Amazon states that expanded distribution is free to use, but that’s not really the case.

Not so free

A copy of Opalescence with E.D. enabled will cost a buyer $18.33; without, the cost is $12.22.

The lowest price I am allowed to sell at with E.D. enabled

These prices likely also mean that there is a cost to authors as well in the form of lost sales. Amazon used to have a way for authors to opt-in to E.D. by paying a one-time fee of $25. Sadly, that was discontinued in favor of this permanent extra charge to buyers. Oddly, though, they kept and still link to a help video for authors called Distribution Channels Overview, that mentions the $25 option.

Until recently, I was unaware that expanded distribution was affecting the cost of the print version of my novel. But I’ve always been perplexed and chagrinned at it’s high price. In recent email discussions with Amazon it was made clear that it was my enabling of E.D. that was the reason for the extra 50% cost of the book, and I was warned that dis-enabling it would decrease it’s exposure as other outlets like B&N would no longer be able to sell the paperback versions (ebook versions are not affected). But I don’t feel it’s fair to pass on these large, extra costs to people who might want a physical copy. I also think that pricing books by unknown authors too high is counterproductive and only does a disservice to those authors (and, when you think about it, to Amazon as well). Therefore as of yesterday, November 9, 2017, I have dis-enabled it. The new price is the lowest that I am allowed to offer my book at, $12.22.

According to Amazon, it can take between six and eight weeks for changes to the price to propagate through the system. So at present the price for the print version still shows as $18.33. But the good news is that the cost for the ebook version is only .99c! You can find ebook versions at the various links on the left. I love (actually prefer) paperbacks though. If you want the paperback, I’d just keep checking Amazon’s page until you see the new lower $.

It is conceivable that the time will come when I’ll need to re-enable expanded distribution (if demand is there to buy the physical book at other outlets). Until then, enjoy Opalescence cheaper! 😉

Update: I received a reply from a senior support specialist with CreateSpace member services.

“We do make it clear in our royalties explanation on the help pages that the sales channel percentages are 40% of list price for Amazon.com and Amazon Europe, and for Expanded Distribution, 60% of list price. Unfortunately, our agreements with expanded distribution partners changed and updated, we had to compensate for these changes and requests from our partners. This resulted in the $25 being removed and a standard percentage taken from Expanded listings.

I do however understand your point and have submitted your feedback to our business team when considering future changes and upgrades. As you know Amazon KDP has launched their print platform and CreateSpace and KDP both being Amazon companies, the goal is to have a single self publishing platform for all. Feedback like this assists in updates we look at making in the future.

I have also made the team aware of the old video on our youtube channel and submitted feedback to the website team for consideration as to the accuracy and detail of information offered on our help pages.”

This sounds like progress. Hopefully a way will be figured out to make expanded distribution better. Thanks Amazon!