In my last post, I propose that it might be beneficial for independent UK authors to self-publish paperback titles with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), as member copies of books can be bought from the UK.
I transferred the anthology that I had originally published on CreateSpace – with the UK ISBN – to KDP (subsequently removed from CreateSpace), and then set about buying a copy. On the Order author copies page, I had to specify an order quantity, and then select the Marketplace of my order. I selected one copy, and Amazon.co.uk as my marketplace.
The price of one book (excluding shipping and taxes) is £1.90. This is the printing cost of the book as determined by trim size, interior type, and page count. I submit my order and the book is added to my Amazon cart, where I can then complete the purchase. (Note: the first time I did this, I had to wait for a ‘set-up’ email from Amazon.)
I find the book has been added to my Amazon Shopping Basket. I went straight to Checkout, and was disappointed to find that postage and packing would cost £2.73! The order total came to £4.63. Estimated delivery would be between 24-27 February (I ordered it on 19th).
To compare costs, I logged on to my CreateSpace account. My anthology with the CreateSpace ISBN still exists there. With the cheapest shipping option (April delivery), the total price for one member copy, converted to GBP, was £5.04.
One bit of good news then: UK ordering with KDP is cheaper and quicker, but is this method beneficial to authors who supply books to UK distributors? Let’s do the maths in the following scenario, whilst bearing in mind that distributors ask for at least 40% discount off the retail price of a book:
A book distributor wants five copies of my anthology to fulfil bookshop orders. The retail price of the book is £3.99. Five copies would fetch £19.95, but the distributor takes a 40% discount, meaning they will buy the books from me for £11.97. I order five member copies @ £1.90. This comes to £9.50. Postage and packing is calculated at £6.83, bringing the total order to £16.33. For me, this means an overall loss of £4.36, or £0.872 per book.
The discount required by the distributor, and the cost of shipping to the author is always going to cause a problem. To make a profit in the above scenario, I would have to set the retail price of my anthology at £5.99. This would give me a profit of £1.64 across the five books – that’s only £0.328 per book, and less than KDP’s royalty of £0.49! And I risk not selling it to customers who visit Amazon because it’s too expensive.
In conclusion, ordering member copies of books from KDP for UK distributors is not necessarily a viable option. It makes more sense to, tell the distributor to tell the bookshop to tell the customer to simply buy the book online. However, to end on a positive note: shipping to the UK is cheaper and quicker, and if I were to sell the five books privately, I would make £0.724 per book, which is more than KDP’s royalty!