Distribution of your CreateSpace published book to bookstores through the "expanded distribution" program appears to be an illusion. CreateSpace will charge you for "expanded distribution" through Ingram, and Ingram will certainly list the book that you publish through CreateSpace, but regardless whether your book is under the Create Space ISBN or your own, Ingram will list it as "non-returnable." That precludes 99 percent of bookstores from carrying it, because they won't stock titles they can't return if they don't sell.
Here are the emails I got when I encouraged Barnes & Noble and several Indie bookstores to order my CreateSpace published book through Ingram:
From Barnes & Noble:
Because your title is non-returnable, it is not eligible for store placement. If you can get Ingram to change the status to returnable we would consider the book for store placement.
From an Indie Bookstore:
Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid the book is only available from Ingram nonreturnable, short discount so wouldn't be something we could stock through them.
The "nonreturnable" problem, which effectively precludes bookstore distribution, is mentioned nowhere on the part of the website where CreateSpace collects your money for promising expanded distribution of your book to bookstores.
My reading of the arrangement when I signed up for EDC was that CreateSpace only offered to make titles available to those organisations who wished to order. If, through their own rules, organisations choose not to order, it is entirely their affair.
CreateSpace has made it very clear that the do not promise anything in regards to EDC other than they will make your title available. They sell their EDC service based on the fact that it is available only and it has been widly circulated that while EDC will get you onto these companies estores (Barnes and Noble picks up nearly every title for their estore) it is unlikely that B&M stores will do so. EDC is really extended online distribution with the availability for B&M to order. Its up to you to convince the stores to do so.
That said, it is not impossible. I already have independent distribution agreements in place with two indy bookstores. The key is handling distribution yourself, negotiating the deal, and building a relationship with the company. You should note that I was able to negotiate both these agreements without making my book returnable.
What you have posted is true but also WELL KNOWN by all who know anything about the publishing business. I have sold quite a few copies through EDC but not exactly enough to get rich on.
You are right that if your book is enrolled in the EDC, Ingram will list your book & that whether your book is under the Createspace ISBN or your own, Ingram will list it as "non-returnable."
However, Createspace has never promised that EDC would guarantee distribution to bookstores - and this has been very clear from the start. What they have said is that you have the potential to get distribution through the additional channels.
Here is what a Createspace helpfile mentioned concerning Expanded Distribution:
Expanded Distribution offers the potential to distribute your book to more of your customers through more channels, including retailers, bookstores, libraries, academic institutions, resellers, wholesalers, and distributors. With Expanded Distribution you have the potential to distribute your work through thousands of retail and wholesale channels in the U.S. (** bold and italics in the word 'potential' added for emphasis).
There are three distribution channels available through Expanded Distribution:
Through Expanded Distribution you can take advantage of our direct relationships with retailers, as well as leading industry distributors, such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor.
We are not involved in subsequent sales of your book when they are purchased through Expanded Distribution, we do not receive information about where your book appears for sale, and we do not participate in how your book is displayed by resellers or other retailers who purchase your book through this channel. Your book can be printed and distributed to both online retailers and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but the decision to purchase or stock your book lies with the individual book sellers.
Having said that, there are individuals here that have been able to work with retailers on an individual basis and arranged putting books on their shelves, even with the "non-returnable" in place. R.C. clearly has done this but there are a number of other individuals from Createspace who have done this as well.
An alternative to getting your books listed (and again, there isn't a guarantee here either of getting into bookstores), is using LightningSource. They do not have the non-returnable policy. As a result, this helps increase the chance of getting books into a retailer store exponentially. However, marketability has allot to do with it as well. If authors/publishers marketed their books effectively, this would get the attention of store owners/managers and in turn this would get their books into those stores. Effective marketing and publicity, but just as important if not more having a targeted audience = Sales.
Hope this helps.
Eric V. Van Der Hope is a #1 International Bestselling Author (Mastering Niche Marketing), Publishing & Book Marketing Strategist, Copywriter & Speaker, with an extensive list of writing and editing credits to his name. He & his family live near Santa Monica, California. Eric dedicates his time to helping people publish & market their books effectively. You can read his latest blog posts on: "Eric's Book Marketing Minute". To learn more about Eric and what he does, you may connect with him via his personal Facebook Profile, his Facebook Fanpage: BookLaunchMarketing, his Twitter Profile: @ericvanderhope, and/or his LinkedIn Profile. You can also visit Eric's Official Website.
Sorry, guys, but telling people that buying expanded distribution will make their books "available to thousands of major off-line bookstores" through Ingram (the CreateSpace expanded distribution offer) without disclosing that virtually none of those brick and mortar stores ever actually takes Ingram up on the offer--regardless of the quality of the author's work--because of a contract term that makes the books nonreturnable, is false advertising. Selling the "potential" for distribution to "thousands of bookstores," when what that really means is that the author will have to hustle bookstores to buy from him directly or on consignment, is like selling someone a car that has the "potential" to run but that he's going to have to get out and push if he ever really wants to get anywhere. If I had wanted to spend the time and effort to distribute a book nationally on my own, I wouldn't have hired a distributor.
CreateSpace does many things well. Nationwide distribution to "thousands" of brick and mortar stores clearly is not one of them, and it needs to say so. I suspect it would hook fewer authors if it did, including me. Had I known this I would have paid to have the book printed traditionally and distributed by a master distributor.
I would be curious to know the percentage of CreateSpace titles, of the zillions it is printing, that have realized their "potential" and are being distributed--not out of the trunk of the author's car to his local indie bookstore, but nationally, via Ingram's distribution network--to thousands or even hundreds of brick and mortar stores. I suspect that's a figure you're not going to see being used in CreateSpace marketing anytime soon.
Selling the "potential" for distribution to "thousands of bookstores," when what that really means is that the author will have to hustle bookstores to buy from him directly or on consignment, is like selling someone a car that has the "potential" to run but that he's going to have to get out and push if he ever really wants to get anywhere.
What "potential" means here is that I can go into any bookstore with an Ingram account and ask them to order in a specific book for me. I might pay list price, or I might have to pay a bit more because the discount the bookstore gets will barely cover off the shipping cost to get the book into the store for me. Some bookstores will do this for me because they value my custom and want me as a regular into the store. I will buy from them instead of an online giant because even though the book might cost more I like to support my local bookseller and they have a wine bar and host scrabble nights.
If there are lots of people like me, ordering the exact same book from the same store, the store will then see a need to order a few extra copies, even though they only get a 25% discount instead of 40% and the books are non-returnable. They're willing to wear a risk because they can see a growing demand for the title.
If you plan to publish on demand with CS, this is what you need to focus on: creating demand for your book, not peddling to booksellers for an inch of shelf space on the bottom shelf at the back of the store with the other self-published stuff.
Had I known this I would have paid to have the book printed traditionally and distributed by a master distributor.
And you would have to pay a **** of a lot more than $25 for it. Add about three zeros to the end of that, no decimal points.
There's absolutely nothing to stop you doing this now, BTW. CS is non-exclusive. But getting a distributor can be almost as hard as getting an agent. And even then the stores can still say no to stocking your book. All in all, this is a pretty good deal for almost no $$ upfront.
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"available to thousands of major off-line bookstores" through Ingram (the CreateSpace expanded distribution offer)
Please post the source for this quote as I have searched and cannot locate it in ant CS marketing. I would like to see this piece and the context in which it is written. Currently al, I ca find is
"Broaden your distribution to online retailers, bookstores, libraries, academic institutions, and distributors within the United States." and the page listed unde the distribution link here. Neither of these seem to portray the program in a false light as your quote above does gthough I can't yet speak to context on your quote.)
I have never read or heard that CS EDC program was a good tool for nationwide B&M distributon so I am unsure where you feel the are misleading people with the service.
Personally, I don't feel that B&M distribution is the key to a title reaching its full potential as you put it. A large segment of the book buying public shops onlin, Amazon US sales alone in 2011 were higher then any B&M store nationwide and with ebooks quickly beginning to dominate the market there is a huge opportunity without ever seeing the inside of a B&M store.
I understand that you are disappointed that the service you signed up for is not what you thought it was but I have yet to see wher CS intentionally mislead you. again please post the source for your quote as I would like to see the whole piece.
As with all things we have to do our due diligence. There is a lot of information online about the EDC program and what should realistically be expected from its use.
P. s. I have sold cars that had the potential to run. Like CS I specifically said it was a potential so the buyer knew what they were getting.
The source of the quote is the Project Homepage on the Member Dashboard, where I was actually prompted and had to select (and pay for) whatever distribution channels I wanted for the book before the project would be deemed complete. The exact (and entire) quote is as follows:
By enabling this channel, you can make your book available to thousands of major online and offline bookstores and retailers, and expand the size of the potential audience for your books.
I have a master distributor for my publishing company. This particular book that I just printed with CS is from my backlist. My distributor had distributed the original edition of the book in hardcover through Baker & Taylor seven years ago, and all three major chains had made national buys and stocked it in stores nationally. This spring I planned to come out with a new edition of the old book in paperback to take advantage of publicity related to a new book of mine coming out in hardcover in August that my distributor is handling. My distributor wanted to renew the contract to distribute the paperback of the backlisted book, but I was intrigued by the CreateSpace model, and the CS royalty terms were more favorable. Still, without at least the potential for the book to be stocked in stores, nationally, it wouldn't have made sense to go with CS. That's why the "expanded distribution" option caught my eye.
I actually called member support at CS in trying to find out if what they were offering was really nationwide distribution to retail stores. The (very) young man on the line was very buoyant about the whole matter, but when I asked him for the name of a current CS title that was being stocked nationally on B&N shelves, so I could check the "in stores" status of the book in different states at B&N online, he became noticeably evasive. I got the message. I didn't want to be a bully or a snob about it--I realize that a very small percentage of what CS prints actually sells--but I assumed that had to do with the quality of the author's work, not an insurmountable obstacle in the contract with the distributor, which is the nonreturnable issue. That, I believe, is when someone should have spoken up.
The original BookSurge model was to use p.o.d to:
I don't know what a "current CS title" is. Despite the CS ISBN publisher of record stuff, CS is primarily a printer and order fulfillment company.
I'm sure there are books printed by CS in bookstores, but how would CS know the titles?
There are several complaints on the forum that spark a lot of interest but that are much more fizzle than fire:
I exaggerate and I apologize, but I feel that we have an obligation to understand something of the publishing/printing business if we are going to be in it. If "available" is the promise, in what way has CS failed?
First, I don't make the other complaints that you mention, so please don't tar me with the same brush.
Being willing to mail a book to bookstores one at a time, upon request, should a customer happen to walk into a store and ask for it, is not what the publishing industry refers to as "distribution." That's order fulfillment. It is deceptive and misleading to entice authors with promises of expanded "distribution" of their books to "thousands" of brick and mortar stores when the nonreturnable issue, which is disclosed nowhere in CS advertising of expanded distribution, effectively precludes 99 percent of brick and mortar bookstores from ever stocking one of their customers' titles through Ingram. Selling expanded "distribution" but not telling authors that if they ever want to be stocked in stores they're going to have distribute the book themselves is like selling people long distance phone service but not telling them that they're going to have to "yell really loud" if they ever want anyone to hear what they're saying. In my case it's not the $25 but the missed opportunity in a limited marketing window that I now can't get back and the hours and hours of my time spent setting up a book to be distributed through CS and Ingram based upon misrepresentations about that service.
An issue I've mentioned since the day the EDC was announced is the "D" (the use of the term distribution). To anyone in the book trade, distribution implies a specific set of proactive functions. And while most experienced members here immediately recognized from the program's description that no distribution was actually involved, I totally understand how first time self-publishing authors can read the language you cited and feel misled.
The program could have been more accurately named EWA (Expanded Wholesale Availability) to reflect its passive nature, and perhaps avoided a lot of confusion. Even so, I believe if a member complained about this to CS, and requested that his/her book be withdrawn from the EDC (with the $25 fee refunded) on the basis of the false advertising you mentioned, that CS would immediately honor the request. So you can most likey get your $25 back and pursue some actual distribution alternatives if desired.
In my case it's not the $25 but the missed opportunity in a limited marketing window that I now can't get back and the hours and hours of my time spent setting up a book to be distributed through CS and Ingram based upon misrepresentations about that service.
I had not seen this post yet when I made my comment above getting your $25 refunded. I don't really understand how/why the marketing window was missed or what the hours or hours of time involved. In any case, good luck.
Thank you for posting the full quote, it is not nearly a damning as the incorrectly clipped version you posted earlier but I can see how it could be misinterpreted by someone that does not research the actual service. Remember that CS is selling you a service here, as with anything you buy don't jump in until you have done some due-diligence. I would wager that CS marketing like any good marketing is designed to sell without being intentionally misleading. This is why I have always stressed that all members should research any service and read in detail any agreements. There is a lot of information available on what EDC provides and the difficulties it presents.
The following direct quote from the EDC information page seems to sum up the situation fairly well:
Most online retailers, bookstores, and libraries find books through purchasing relationships with large distributors. If your book is not listed with these distributors, some retailers may not be able to buy your book, even if a customer specifically requests your title. Through Expanded Distribution you can distribute and make your title available for order (this does not guarantee that your book will actually be ordered) through the following channels:"
Bear in mind that the service you are talking about has a cost of $25.00. For this fee your book is made available, you get listed on a number of third party websites and ordering platforms such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.ca, and if your lucky you may get library or bookstore deal (yes it has happened for some members). Personally I can't expect much more for a $25.00 investment. If you are looking for professional high end B&M store distribution there are a lot of distributors who can obtain this for you but the price is much higher then $25.00.
I read the disclaimer, "this does not guarantee that your book will actually be ordered," to refer to nothing other than the standard deal offered by any master distributor, which is that whether your book ever makes it onto bookstore shelves depends on the quality and popularity of the book, not the distributor. I also understood that, for $25, CreateSpace wouldn't have a sales staff out there with boots on the ground, pitching my physical book to retail buyers, which is a service you'll get from master distributors. However, saying "we don't guarantee your book will be ordered" is very different from telling people "your book will never be distributed to 'thousands' of bookstores through Ingram, no matter how good your book is or how much marketing you do, because of a structural obstacle in our contract with Ingram that we don't disclose and won't change." The fact that CreateSpace does other things well and affordably, as you mention--such as design, printing and online order-fulfillment--doesn't change that.
The definition of a scam is selling lots of people the hope of a service that they may or could receive if they do their part when you know, in fact, that virtually none of them will receive it no matter what they do. However, telling them that it's their fault for not reading between the lines or being so gullible to beleive that they could receive such a service, for only $25, is actually a country song. It's called "How Could You Believe Me, When I Told You That I Love You, When You Know I've Been A Liar All My Life."
I don't know about the rest of you, but I've got some writing to do. I have no intention of racking up 8,000 posts next to my name on this website schilling for CreateSpace. There's not much to be done for my problem other than to post a warning here, to the unwary. I've accomplished that, so my work is done. Good day to you all, and goodbye.