Monday, August 04, 2014

Lightning Source, CreateSpace, and the New Digital Print Business Model

Publishing consultant Pete Masterson, who owns Aeonix, is with us again today with some interesting comparisons between Lightning Source and CreateSpace and the “New Digital Print” business model. Pete credits Aaron Shepherd for the "inspiration" of using the "New Digital Print" business model, as Aaron was the first to publicize this particular approach.

Today, we have Lightning Source (LSI) and it can be a useful way for a self publisher to get a book into full distribution with modest up front costs.

Of course Amazon (which is both a "good guy" and a "bad guy" depending on which policies of theirs you're stumbling over) is a major place to sell books. Their CreateSpace (CS) subsidiary has some advantages (and disadvantages).

In recent years, many of my clients have used both LSI and CS as part of their "system" to sell their books.

See the article on my web site: The New Digital Print Business Model for Small/Self-Publishers.
This article was written (for online) in 2005 and was edited with some changes to CS pricing (when they dropped a "pro plan" and just gave "pro plan" pricing to everyone). I believe the latest rates require printing 500 or more copies with LSI to beat the CS unit cost... (LSI has up-front fees, while CS does not. LSI has volume-based discounts for inventory purchase, while CS has a flat "any quantity" pricing.)

This article also describes the differences between LSI and CS.

In general, today the "best" deal is to distribute through LSI for coverage of all booksellers. Use the 20% discount as described in the business model (but sales through physical bookstores will be very few). Offer the full 55% discount if you think you "need" physical bookstores -- but you still will see few sales, as almost no booksellers will order print on demand (even through LSI) books for inventory.

Use CS for their "web store" (but don't use CS for sales to Amazon if you have the book listed with LSI with a 20% discount). The web store is where you can link to CS from your web site -- people order directly from CS (but it looks like it comes from you). CS takes the credit risk (bad credit card, etc.) and prints and ships the book to the customer. You receive 80% of the list price, less the print cost. For the 20% "discount" (which goes to CS), it removes all the hassle of printing, storing, packing, shipping, billing (having a merchant account for credit cards), figuring sales taxes, etc. Frankly, this is a great deal. (Indeed, CS now forces you to select at least one sales method (awhile back, you could hold off specifying), so the default is the "web store" -- of course, so long as you don't 'hook up' your web site to the web store, there won't be any web store sales.

The downside of CS is that sales to Amazon are at a (required) 40% discount. CS also offers "extended" distribution to "all booksellers" -- but you must use a CS ISBN to do that. The "secret" of extended distribution is that CS places the book with LSI for distribution. CS requires a 60% discount for this service. You can distribute directly through LSI with your own ISBN and not give up 60% of the list price!

Thanks, Pete!

Visit Aeonix for more information or feel free to ask Pete a question. I know a lot of authors use CreateSpace, but there is a profit difference, not to mention having to use their ISBN. (Which lists them as the publisher, not the author.)

Don’t forget Wednesday is post day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

And this is post #1800 for me! Not bad for over 9 years of blogging.

29 comments:

Clarissa Draper said...

Congrats on so many posts! 9 years is a long time. This was a very interesting post. I think to go with either option, an author needs to have money. Something most authors don't.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Thanks for the comparison between LSI and CS. And congrats on 1800 posts!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Interesting to read the comparison between LSI and CS. And 9 years of blogging. That's amazing. Congrats!

Mark Means said...

1800 posts?? Wow, congrats...very impressive :)

Sarah Foster said...

Congrats on 1800 posts! Yikes, I haven't even hit 200 yet...

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Diane,

Congrats, that's a lot of time and effort toward blogging. I do appreciate all the useful information you provide. CreatSpace vs Lightning Source has always been a little confusing for me. This article is small enough for me to digest. Thanks.

Mason Canyon said...

Congratulations on your 1800 posts. Some interesting facts on the comparison of two companies.

Bish Denham said...

1800 posts!? Amazing. But now I'm really confused. I'm only barely getting a handle on CS and now I learn there's another place to print? :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting comparison. And congratulations on 1800 posts. That just blows my mind.

Karen Lange said...

Congrats on the posts! That is a wonderful milestone. Thanks so much for this info. I'd wondered how some of this worked. This will help me in the future.

Happy Monday!

Karen Walker said...

Congrats, Diane, on so many wonderful posts.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Clarissa, money is needed. LOL

Joy, there are other points to consider, but Pete did a great job highlighting these.

Stephen Tremp said...

Congrats on nine years of blogging! That's a huge milestone and its understandable why you are so well versed in the whole business.

I'll save this article as I'll need to make a decision between CS and LSI soon.

Thanks Diane and Pete!

Jay Noel said...

1800 posts and nine years! Congrats!

I'm using CS right now, but LSI does have many upsides. I hear formatting is a pain in the rear. Or maybe it's just different.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

1800 posts is worthy of celebration, Diane. Hope you're celebrating.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Thanks for the info. "Upfront fees" makes my decision easy. I have debt vs a slush fund (for now).

Congrats on 1800, Diane! That's a huge number and a great amount of high-quality information.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Oh, Clarissa said the same. LOL. But CS requires no money. =)

cleemckenzie said...

Very interesting comparison. It seems there's more and more on the business end of writing to learn and make decisions about. My head spinneth.

Morgan said...

Wonderful post for number 1800!!!! Amazing, Diane. You are a strong force and I love your voice in this community. I always learn so much from you. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

1800!!!!! That amazes me. This is very interesting stuff though I've pulled my self published books for the time being.

Carol Kilgore said...

I use CreateSpace. So far I have no complaints.

Steven said...

Good information! I've used CreateSpace and was fairly pleased with the process, but it's good to know what else is out there.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats on hotting 1800 posts. These are great tips and 20% is better than giving up 60%. Both sources have great deals though.

Jai Joshi said...

Congrats on hitting your 1800th post! Wow, nine years is a long piece of dedication.

Thanks for the fab info on CS and LSI. I've been considering both of these so this is going to come in handy.

Jai

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Nine years and still going strong! That is impressive. Congratulations.

Medeia Sharif said...

Nine years is amazing! I'm glad you stuck with blogging that long. Great info here, too. I wasn't aware of this distribution program.

Susanne Drazic said...

Diane, CONGRATS on 9 years of blogging! 1800 posts is quite a milestone to reach! Thank you for sharing the information about LSI and CS.

Rhonda Albom said...

Congratulations on 1800 posts. This is one I will bookmark for later, when I am closer to publishing.

Gossip_Grl said...

Congrats on the 9 years of blogging and post #1800. I have been researching Create A Space. Thanks for putting this info out.