KDP Print Division Now Offers Proof and Author Copies

kdps print division paperback book-408302_960_720It appears Amazon is serious about recruiting indie authors to try their new paperback publishing option. Last week, the Zon sent an email to KDP users saying they have begun offering print proofs and author copies for paperbacks published through KDP.

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms: A print proof is a paperback of your unpublished book. Authors order print proofs when they would rather mark up a hard copy, or if they don’t trust themselves to catch every error when reviewing a digital proof. CreateSpace puts a watermark on the last page of its print proofs. KDP will instead put a watermark on the cover that says “Not for Resale.” 

In contrast, an author copy is a paperback of a published book that’s offered to the author at cost. Authors who do in-person events such as book signings often buy copies of their books to sell at the events.

createspace proof
From the back of a Createspace proof

When KDP first started offering paperback publishing, a lot of authors were on the fence about trying it because the KDP program lacked these alternatives. CreateSpace has always offered proof copies, and it has long been possible to order published books from them at cost. Author copies with KDP, in particular, were a problem, especially if you wanted to stock up. The only choice you had if you published your paperback with KDP was to order your books from Amazon at the retail price and wait to recoup your royalty when you got paid for the sales.

The big question, then, is what will happen to CreateSpace. Amazon recently closed the site’s online store – which, to be honest, was never user-friendly and probably wasn’t doing a ton of business anyway. CreateSpace was already pointing paperback customers to KDP to publish eBook editions of their work. Just about the only advantage left for CreateSpace users is expanded distribution, which allows retailers such as Barnes and Noble to carry your books – and Amazon says it’s working on that.

CreateSpace offers publishing options for musicians and filmmakers, too, though – the options are right there on their landing page – and there’s no word on what would happen to those services if Amazon shutters CreateSpace.

The other question is whether migrating a KDP paperback file to the eBook platform gives any better result than it did when CreateSpace tried it. For quite some time now, we’ve been warning authors to steer clear of that option at CreateSpace because the resulting eBook file can come out with major formatting issues. If KDP can conquer that, and offer expanded distribution for paperbacks, it would be an excellent alternative to publishing paperbacks via CreateSpace – and would save indies a ton of time and hassle, too. Stay tuned – we’ll be keeping an eye on this.

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

20 thoughts on “KDP Print Division Now Offers Proof and Author Copies”

    1. Sorry, but I believe this post is a bit misleading … some information is incorrect. I just went to my Createspace account. I can still buy copies of my trade paper titles published there. You are correct in saying that their instore sales page is worthless. I’ve never sold any books there. But the important thing is: if you’re doing a signing somewhere and want to order your books, you can. So I don’t see the problem.

        1. Saying “I dread the day they close Create Space” implies that they are CLOSING.
          Henny-penny, the sky is falling! Where is the evidence that CS is closing?This is a PRINT ON DEMAND company, not a publisher. Why would they close? Many many authors buy their own books there. I just bought three today. I got hysterical emails from Linked-in saying CS is going to close. Show me the evidence!

          1. Hi Susan, the writing seems to be on the wall – why would Amazon start up KDP Print and intend on keeping Createspace? It just doesn’t seem like they need to have two POD companies under their umbrella. I personally LOVE Createspace and hope it doesn’t close, but in the end, the Zon calls the shots and it seems like this is the way it’s going.

          2. To be clear, Susan, I didn’t say *I* dreaded the day CS closes; that was Yvonne.

            Of course there’s an element of tea-leaf-reading in this sort of post. But as Kat said, it wouldn’t appear to make sense for Amazon to keep two essentially equal on-demand publishing units in operation. And they have a history of doing this kind of thing. We saw it after they bought Goodreads and merged Shelfari into it.

            The one thing arguing against a KDP/CreateSpace merger, as I see it, is the fact that CS offers video and CD production. As far as I know, KDP doesn’t. It’s possible the video and CD lines haven’t been well utilized. It’s also possible Amazon would keep CreateSpace open for those types of projects only. I don’t pretend to know. The ways of the Zon have ever been mysterious. 🙂

            As for me, I have 17 or so titles published in paperback via CreateSpace, and I don’t plan to move them until Amazon makes me do it. Maybe I should have said that in my post. Apologies for leaving it out.

  1. I’m concerned because I don’t use KDP, so if Createspace closes I’ll have to look to IngramSpark or someone else for my print distribution, and that will require me to buy ISBNs, which I don’t really have the money for, and possibly pay setup fees, which I again don’t have the money for.
    I don’t sell many paperbacks right now, so I won’t be making back the cost of IBNs and setup fees in a hurry, but I know it’s better to have paperbacks available than not.

      1. A dispute between me and a co-author over rights in a previous publishing life went against me and now Amazon won’t let me have a KDP account. I have to publish to Amazon through a distributor.

  2. I was also curious, when I went in to change a sales price at Createspace recently (trying to keep my retail price lower than the fricking expanded distribution mills), that they offer the opportunity to track sales and royalties through the KDP dashboard. I was tempted to try it. But then I remembered that my KDP Dashboard can already be annoying enough, with a bookshelf cluttered with three unpublished title that will apparently never, ever disappear. Still, this suggests that Amazon will be more forcefully nudging us out of CS to KDP eventually.
    I also share Yvonne’s concerns about customer service. CS has always been far superior in that regard. At KDP I might or might not get an answer that can take up to a week, whatever it is will sound as if it’s been written by an algorithm, and which canned answer I get sent will appear to depend very much on who’s on shift that day, just like the wildly variable responses I can get to AMS ad reviews.

  3. Mega dittos to Sandra & Yvonne. I think I’ll just send createspace an email with concerns. I agree their customer service is amazing and KDP is non existent. And then what happens to our titles over at createspace???

    1. RB, presumably, KDP will provide a mechanism for porting our files over from CS. And there may be a way to do it already – I saw some mention of it when I was researching this post. I’ll check into that and let y’all know.

  4. Hmm, I have been using both KDP and CreateSpace. I understand authors favoring one over the other. What I will say is learn how to properly format your manuscripts for both. Both have different requirements and needs. I have not been impressed with KDP autogenerated and formatted print books. I rue the day CreateSpace or KDP goes away. They both serve different book markets.

    1. Interesting info, Joe. Most of my paperbacks are published through CS, but I did publish one through KDP a while back. I didn’t notice much of a difference in formatting requirements, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention. 🙂

  5. I use both KDP and Createspace, and I always format separately for each, because there’s no way Amazon has the ability to convert in either direction unless it’s a one-size-fits-all format. I also use Smashwords for my ebooks, and their “meat grinder” can create all e-book formats, but it’s super picky about formatting as a result. Sort of like a Swiss Army knife; show me a tool that does 10 jobs, and I’ll show you a tool that doesn’t do any of them very well.
    I’m a big fan of Cratespace, and especially the author-priced copies. I hope it continues.

  6. We shouldn’t think KDP’s move is any way altruistic. Not having proof / author’s cost copies is hurting them – there are many other options these days, and Amazon will be losing business because of it. The other major problems with KDP are that the free ISBN equivalent number is pretty worthless (which is why it’s free), and from what I can see publishing via KDP ties you to Amazon. I’ve moved to IngramSpark. Yes, there’s a cost involved – ISBN and set-up costs – but you can buy as many ‘at cost’ copies as you want, and the day they publish your book is immediately available via multiple on-line retailers (including Amazon, Waterstones etc.) and is available to order in independent bookstores (which a KDP volume isn’t).
    I agree costs of such services can be an issue vs. something that’s ‘free’. I’m setting up Coverstory books to offer a service of split costs / split rewards for potential authors; get a book made (ISBN and all) plus plug into the distribution network for, what, maybe $60..?

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