Parallel Printing Paths

The Final Push to Publication

Some folks say “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Others advise “don’t build your business in someone else’s sandbox.” Each saying offers good advice which was heeded as the final pieces of our publishing puzzle were assembled.

As many of you know, the eBook version of The Dog Food Detective was published last week. It’s currently available through the book’s website and as a Kindle-only edition on Amazon. The paperback is currently working its way through a parallel production process.

Paperback publication could have been handled in a much simpler way. But just to keep things interesting, we’ve chosen to use two separate printers, Amazon and LSI, to print the paperback.

Now we’re waiting for both to cross the finish line, and the process for each is quite different.

Publishing through Amazon is relatively simple

To their credit, Amazon has a fairly comprehensive publishing service called CreateSpace. It offers a way to publish books with very little outside assistance, at very reasonable costs. So what’s not to like?

For starters, using only CreateSpace services ties a book very tightly to the Amazon website. It dictates how and where a book can and cannot be sold, and requires Amazon’s price to be lower than any other sales outlet.

There are other details which are less than ideal, including royalty arrangements, ownership rights, distribution limitations and price controls. It remains to be seen how print quality compares to LSI. And of course, there’s that caution of a single basket or someone else’s sandbox to keep in mind.

On the positive side, their process is quite streamlined. Production files submitted last week were validated and approved within 24 hours, and a printed proof is expected to arrive this week. Our other printer, LSI, is not quite as responsive.

LSI is also used by Amazon

Until a few years ago, many of the books sold through Amazon were printed by LSI. Many still are, although Amazon now has its own printing presses which has reduced its dependence on LSI. We chose to use LSI because of their reputation for both quality and reliability. It also provides a certain level of insurance.

While the publication process through LSI is more involved, we expect it will offer a welcome alternative to having to depend solely on Amazon. Production files submitted to LSI last week took a few extra days to be reviewed and accepted. Their printed proof is now on the way and is expected to arrive before the end of next week.

We’ll continue to document the progress of each approach on the website, and notify you once both versions are available for purchase. Ironically, it appears that the book may be available on Amazon sooner than on our own website!

Why two printers may be better than one

An uneasy feeling about Amazon exists in some parts of the publishing industry. As wonderful as it is to browse their site and find great deals, these deals often carry a hidden cost.

For books, that cost can be the loss of some control and lower royalties. As is currently being played out in the dispute with Hachette, it can also mean the unexpected disappearance of a primary sales outlet.

If you’re not familiar with Hachette, it is a large international publisher that has had some of its books and preorder options removed from Amazon’s site during contract negotiations. This means thousands of authors are left without their primary sales source while the two giants hash things out. It also results in an annoying inconvenience for readers who would like to purchase those books. It appears that similar tactics are now being used to target some Time Warner movies sold on Amazon.

It’s highly unlikely that these types of tactics would be used against smaller publishers. But just a few years ago, it was inconceivable that these tactics would be used at all. Given the evolution of the industry, it becomes more important than ever not to rely on that single basket or sandbox.

Stay tuned for the next update on the race to the finish line

Unless we find issues with the printed proofs heading our way, it appears that The Dog Food Detective will be available through both Amazon and the book’s website by the end of the month. We’ll keep our paws crossed.

For now, the final publication process scorecard is tipped slightly in favor of Amazon. File submission, acceptance, and proof production were all been completed in less than 48 hours. LSI took considerably longer, but speed is not everything despite our eagerness to see a printed book. It will be quite interesting to compare the two proofs side by side.

The true winner in this process will be determined by the long-term quality and reliability of the printed books. Ultimately, it will be you, the reader, who has the final word!

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