This is the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX for February 2017. Our last index was released back in December 2016. Originally I compiled the index, month-to-month, but I found the work involved to update almost 90 companies and service providers was not being compensated by enough changes on the index over a short period of weeks. Indeed, some months the changes were very modest, and sometimes hardly noticeable. I held off releasing an index during the months of last summer because I began to see some changes within the service industry providers and I was curious to see how these would all play through 2016 and into early 2017.
I reported at the end of last year that a number of publishing service providers had closed their doors and I have now removed them for the latest index. Several more are either under new ownership or entering a period of transition. We can now add Tate Publishing to this list, and it still remains unclear as to what the future holds for its authors and the future of the company. TIPM reported on the closure of Tate in February of this year and you can find out more news about this here.
I will reiterate what I said when I posted the last index:
The publishing service industry is becoming increasingly competitive and it is becoming very clear that more and more authors are seeking the flexibility and economy of freemium platforms, freelance marketplaces and direct online sales channels. They want empowerment and the direct tools to publish, and preferably online, whether their intentions are for a print or ebook release, or both. The dominate era of convenient but often expensive publishing packages (and those service providers who still stick rigidly to this paper-driven, high print markups, and low revenue return for authors) looks doomed.
Unfortunately, this looks like it will be a continual theme in 2017. I am aware of at least two or three other publishing service providers, currently listed in the index, that also considering shuttering operations or looking for a new buyer to take over.
I also spoke about the most significant changes in the TIPM December index. Again, worth looking at what I said in light of what we now know, because it does shed some light on questions I had at the time.
Nothing could underscore this more than the astonishing drop in the December Publishing Service Index of much-loved and Amazon-owned print-on-demand platform CreateSpace. Since the inception of the index in 2010, CreateSpace has been one of the kingpins of the index, and rarely outside the top two positions, sometimes for months on end holding the number one position. CreateSpace now sits 9th, a fall of seven places in just six months. But it’s not all bad for Amazon, its KDP platform, following a very shaky 18 months, is back at the top ahead of IngramSpark.
I was somewhat puzzled in December as to why Amazon’s digital publishing wing had leapt to the top spot and its longer established POD print wing CreateSpace had experienced such a sudden drop in a short space of time. The latest index below sees CreateSpace steady the fall, but just barely cling on to its place in the top ten. Odd, because the top ten has been dominated by DIY self-publishing platforms for the past two to three years. Moreover, the bulk of self-published authors use CreateSpace solely for print and distribution and do not avail of the expensive service packages on offer. There are increasing indications that Amazon intends integrating its print operation – until now aimed at self-published authors and micro-presses – into its KDP operation and repurposing CreateSpace as a B2B enterprise. This is something similar to the strategy adopted by Ingram with IngramSpark as a dedicated platform for the self-publishing service market, while allowing Lightning Source to service the commercial publishing market (as it was always set up to do).
According to Amazon its beta KDP Print is now open to all:
Publishing a paperback can help you reach new readers. KDP prints your book on demand and subtracts your printing costs from your royalties, so you don’t have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory. You can use the KDP website in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese or Dutch. KDP automatically updates your title metadata based on information (book description, categories, keywords) you’ve already provided when setting up your eBook and vice versa. It also enables you to receive consolidated royalty payments for paperback and eBook sales. You can view combined reports and manage your print and eBook publishing from one website.
Benefits of publishing paperbacks with KDP include:
• Reach paperback readers through Amazon websites in the US, Europe (amazon.co.uk, amazon.de, amazon.fr, amazon.es, amazon.it), and Japan (amazon.co.jp)
• Earn up to 60% royalties on the list price you set, minus printing costs.
We’ll add more print features in the future, including the ability to order proofs and author (wholesale) copies at cost, and expanded distribution to bookstores.
Learn more about using the beta to publish paperbacks on KDP.
Certainly interesting times ahead this year. And it would seem, despite some restrictions on print options, many are trying KDP Print and I’m seeing a lot of titles disappear that were originally listed under CreateSpace.
TIPM continues to receive regular feedback on services through comments under our reviews, via our TIPM Facebook page, and directly to us. We want to thank all of those who took the time to share their publishing experiences. Your comments are always welcome and every comment and experience of a publishing service — positive or negative — is always reflected in every new index published through TIPM.
|FEB POS||DEC POS||COMPANY/SERVICE PROVIDER||PRIMARY COMPANY BASEMARKET||SERVICE CLASS||FEB INDEX VALUE||INDEX POS MOVE|
|1||1||Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)||GLOBAL||DIY||832.91||SAME|
|5||5||Kobo Writing Life||GLOBAL||DIY||612.87||SAME|
|7||8||Lightning Source (Direct)||GLOBAL||PRT/FUL||561.20||UP|
|9||6||Hillcrest Media/Mill City Press||USA||PUB/FSP||549.81||DOWN|
|14||14||Epigraph Publishing Service||USA||FSP||444.97||SAME|
|15||15||Dog Ear Publishing||USA||FSP||435.66||SAME|
|23||24||CPI UK Antony Rowe||EUROPE||PRT||410.38||UP|
|24||23||York Publishing Services||UK||PRT/FUL||408.98||DOWN|
|25||27||Google Play Books||GLOBAL||DIY||394.60||UP|
|26||25||John Hunt Publishing||GLOBAL||PUB/FSP||391.26||DOWN|
|32||32||Grosvenor House Publishing||UK||FSP||368.06||SAME|
|33||35||The Choir Press||UK/USA||FSP||367.83||UP|
|35||34||Cold River Studio||USA||FSP||367.02||DOWN|
|36||37||Book Guild Publishing||UK||FSP||362.95||UP|
|40||40||Acorn Independent Press||UK||FSP||353.57||SAME|
|49||51||Kazoo Publishing Services||IRELAND||FSP||338.63||UP|
|61||62||The Book Producers||IRELAND||FSP||323.63||UP|
|63||64||Turning Stone Press||USA||FSP||319.46||UP|
|67||69||Chandler Book Design||UK||PRT||304.13||UP|
|68||70||Dolman Scott/Oak Press||UK||FSP||303.34||UP|
|82||84||Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie||UK||PUB/FSP||221.58||UP|
|83||66||Better Book Company||UK||PRT||217.61||DOWN|
|86||87||Raider International Pub./Green Shore||GLOBAL||FSP||107.30||SAME|
- DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke services and basic conversion and formatting services
- FSP – Full Service Provider (Packages & Bespoke) – May also include Partnership publishing programs
- PUB – Also offers Mainstream Contracts or is a service imprint of a traditional publishing house
- PRT – Printer (primarily a printer with some additional but limited services)
- FULL – Fulfilment Services provided for distribution logistics, warehousing of stock (including supply to wholesaler and retailers)
- CRW – Crowdsource
* Denotes that company no longer offers publishing services
** Denotes former service provider turned traditional publisher
*** Denotes that publisher/imprint no longer exists or has closed operations
There is a much more detailed explanation of what the Publishing Service Index is and how authors can best use it in this post.
The most asked question we get at The Independent Publishing Magazine is often along the lines of; ‘What self-publishing service should I go with?‘; ‘Is so and so a good service to go with?‘; or ‘Is so and so a scam?‘
In some cases, that is an easy question to answer, cut and dry, but in other circumstances, the answer is entirely arbitrary. We are not here to review and run down a company’s name, nor are we here to endorse a company’s services. If we were only to review companies according to every point on an ideal dream list of what an author wants/should get, we would have very few reviews to share with you. In truth, no company has ever attained a 10/10, and only a few have recorded more than 08/10.
The reality is that some companies offering publishing services begin in a blaze of glory and we might rate them favourably at the time; others, frankly, are just poor, and they improve (sometimes in response to our reviews) to offer reasonable or better services. We are constantly updating our reviews, but this takes considerable time, and so do the initial reviews.
We get a vast amount of information from authors and the companies selling author solutions services every day – good and bad. We get a great deal of information from monitoring services week by week against the experiences of what authors report back to us. Simply put, and truthfully, we cannot reflect all of this information through the reviews. That is why the comments section under each company we review is so important. It is your recording and dealings with that specific company, and a positive or negative flag to subsequent authors considering using the same company.
So, how do we reflect the changing ups and downs with services?
We believe the PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX will help to guide authors to services on the up, and those, gradually on the down. If you like, what we present is a kind of stock exchange for companies supplying publisher services.
The PUBLISHING SERVICE INDEX was first launched in June 2010.