Three changes are taking place this month at Amazon’s platforms for self-publishing. Two involve Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and one is happening at the Media On Demand platform that replaced the old CreateSpace function of selling compact disc albums.
Media On Demand is terminating compact disc sales, apparently due to a lack of demand and the increasing market preference for digital streaming and downloads. I’m sad but not surprised. Although my wholesale cost for each of the two music albums I made available on CD was only $4.99, I felt the retail price where I could make a decent per-unit profit was too expensive at $17.95. CDs are nice, but that price always seemed unrealistic to me. On June 4, CDs will no longer be available from Media On Demand, including wholesale copies to the creators, so creators will need to stock up if they want copies before then.
Next, KDP has begun offering print-on-demand paperbacks in Australia. This requires authors to adjust the pricing of each of their POD books for that market. That’s an easy process inside your KDP account, but since I have around thirty books in print, it took me about an hour to make all the adjustments. Still, I’m excited about this development.
Finally, KDP is currently running a beta version of the ability to make print-on-demand books available in hardcover! (Note: The linked pages for this program might only be currently available to KDP authors who have been invited to the beta program and are signed in to their account.) While not available in all international markets, they will be available in the USA and a few other countries. Many of my fellow authors will be excited if this works out, because my self-publishing customers often ask about hardcover editions.
The new hardcovers won’t be the kind with dust jackets. Instead, they will be “case laminate” hardcovers. Casewrapping is common for specialty books and textbooks, where the image is printed on a material that is wrapped onto the hard binding and glued in place, not a removable paper sleeve.
From a technical perspective, this new format will require some graphic design software skill, because formatting a cover for the casewrap is more complex than just clicking a button! Compared to a paperback cover, the casewrap cover must be created at dimensions both wider and taller so the printed image can be wrapped around the hard binding. It also means there is extra width to account for the “folded” area on each side of the spine. To help cover designers implement these changes, KDP provides a cover dimensions calculator which will also generate a PDF or PNG template to use as a guideline, and the templates are created specifically for your book’s trim size and page count. That is handy!
I spent a couple hours tonight re-doing the cover to Meteor Mags: The Singing Spell and Other Tales, getting a new ISBN and barcode for the hardcover edition, uploading and reviewing the files, and ordering a physical proof copy. I will update you on how it turns out, once the proof arrives. My understanding is that “author copies” will not be available for hardcovers. Those are the copies an author can order at wholesale price, which you already know if you have a POD paperback with KDP. [UPDATE for September 2021: This was true at first, but now I see that author copies are available for purchase. Yay!]
So, goodbye compact discs and hello hardcovers! And hello to Australia! Feel free to share your experiences with these changes in the comments on this post.