Where Should I Buy My MCAH Print Edition? (Pricing, Discoverability, Etc.)

Three people have asked me where they should buy their print editions of my books today, so I figured now is a good time to talk about that.

From a monetary perspective, Createspace gives me the highest royalties, with Amazon in the middle and everyone else (B&N, other retailers, etc) a distant third. A typical spread would be $7, $3 and 50 cents. At this point, pricing on my print editions is controlled by my desire to offer the book at retailers other than Amazon (or Amazon affiliates); to prevent having negative royalties from them, my print books have to hover around $15-18, which gives me the crazy high spread in the other direction.

So if you want me to have the most money, or you want to avoid buying from Amazon, I encourage you to buy the book from Createspace. $7 a book is a lot when you only move 2 to 6 paperbacks a month…!

However, if asked, I will encourage people to buy the book from Amazon, for a few reasons:

1. I still get a reasonable royalty rate per book.
2. You can get better shipping options through Amazon, especially if you have Prime. Also, Createspace is now doing local shipping through overseas Amazon sites, so if you live outside the US you can get a much better rate from them.
3. Amazon allows you to do bundling, so you can get the e-book for cheaper if you buy the print book. (Also the audiobook is discounted for buyers of the e-book, I believe.)
4. Buying from Amazon feeds their also-bought, recommendation and sales ranking algorithms, which helps other people discover me.

At this point, Amazon does discoverability better than any other vendor online. Smashwords and B&N are both abysmal at leading people to new work. My royalties from B&N for any edition of my books (e-book or print) are absolutely useless. No one buys from Smashwords unless they already know about me, either. I think I see one or two hits on other retailers, while Amazon will reliably send me 4-7 royalty checks a month from their various sites and affiliates.

I wish this was otherwise… it would be wonderful if fewer of my eggs were all in one basket. But everyone else is playing catch-up to Amazon, and so far they’re not succeeding. Hopefully they’ll figure it out before they become irrelevant.

TLDR; my answer to “Where do I buy my print edition?” is, in order of descending preference: Amazon, Createspace, B&N.

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