So, a few days ago I decided to create a paperback format of on of my eBooks on Amazon - Flat Number 9. It's relatively new service that Amazon are offering. I won't go into too much detail here as to how it works as Amazon has a walk-through for this but basically, if anyone wants to purchase a paperback version of your book then they can. It's offered as an option on your product page for your eBook version ( or at least - should be and by that I mean that I needed to contact Amazon to specifically ask them to link the paperback version to my eBook version so that a potential buyer can see all formats available for your book.
The paperback is created on demand and this means that there will be no up-front cost to you; the cost of production is taking from your royalties. The good thing also is that they give you a break-down on the cost of production...fixed cost, plus cost per page equals total cost. Amazon ensure that you will not be running at a negative cost and will tell you the minimum you need to price your book for to cover the cost of production. For a book that is about a hundred and twenty pages, you're probably looking at about $3.00, perhaps slightly under. You then price your book over that based on how much profit your want to make - taking into consideration that the price tag you put on that over the cost of production will still be subject to minus %40 for Amazon and you'll receive %60. One thing for sure is that you won't run into a negative cost...Amazon won't allow that, which is good for you.
At present there are not many Authors on Amazon who are using this service but those that are seem to be pricing a hundred-page book at about £7.40 or so that I guess is just over $9.00. I want to be competitive but still want to make a profit...if I can and so priced mine with the same page-count at £6.95 that is about $8.50. What you need to take into account is delivery charges if the customer is not in Amazon Prime or there is no "free delivery special offer". This will add about £2.00 to the price bringing the total to about £9.00. Now, that's actually quite a lot for a paperback of this size. From all this, you can expect to make about £2.00 profit...and to be fair you wouldn't expect a chunk of profit from postage costs.
Weather or not this will take off or be worthwhile, I don't know. However, it's worth doing as it adds another option and you get charged only if someone does buy so really you can't lose by using that service.
A note about formatting:
Amazon offer the use of a template that you can download and this will be presented to you during the process. I would take advantage of this and use it and try to keep to their formatting. Initially, it looks a little overwhelming but it's not that bad and if you've already jumped through Amazon's hoops for eBook formatting then you would be used to it by now.
The only point I had trouble with was when it came to covers. I would recommend using their Cover Creation option. Now, this does not mean that you'll be creating a new cover using their templates only. It's a bit of both - your own cover along with theirs. There is an option to create your own cover from scratch - and by this I mean the front, back and the spine. This is a nightmare as even if you have the templates yourself in place the guidelines and requirements are complex. Use their cover creation but upload your own front cover - that you should have anyway from your eBook submission. You'll then be using their back cover and spine from which there are several styles to choose. This is a good compromise and balance.
Be warned that it won't create a spine though for books of a hundred pages or fewer. This is an issue for me as a paper back book without a spine is not a book at all but a damn pamphlet. I Neeeeeeed a damn spine. This mean that I needed to increase the font size from their default 11 to 12, which in turn increased the number of pages by about twenty, totaling a hundred and twenty pages. This creates a spine that is not exactly out of this world but definitely one that is okay. It works. So, in order to have a decent spine you need a book abook to be at least a hundred and twenty pages.
Be aware though that if your book is about a hundred pages or less and you increase the font to expand the book to about a hundred and twenty pages ( which in my opinion is the minimum for a good spine) then this will at an additional cost. Remember, Amazon charge cost per page. This will increase your costs that you will likely need to pass onto the customer. You might think that this won't be an issue as you can justify the extra cost because essentially you have a bigger book. But if you remember that for a hundred and twenty page book you're already looking at a cost of about £9.00 including postage then you don't want to be increasing your costs unnecessarily
My advise is this: if you have a book that is under or bang on a hundred pages then no spine will be created. If you want a spine, increase the font from the default 11 to 12 to increase the number of pages, taking into account that the minimum number of pages you will need is about 120 for a decent enough spine.
If you book is already over a 120 pages anyway then use their default 11 point for the body text and don't attempt to beef your book up thinking you can put a higher price tag on your book. Customers want cheap books.
Okay, back to the cover. Apart from creating the blurb for the back the only other thing you really need to be aware of is the guidelines for the alignment of the cover image on the book cover. You need to make sure that your cover image is taken right up to their dotted white lines as the book in production will be trimmed back to that line. But, you need to make sure also that the wording on your cover image does not exceed the dotted red line and this dotted red line sits just inside the white line with a blank space between the two coloured lines. It makes more sense when you see it. But do this, and your cover image should be edge to edge with the physical book with the title correctly aligned.
As to weather or not it's worth producing the paper back versions of your eBooks is yet to be seen. The only problem with this is the cost of production and that of delivery can make the book a bit costly and this is with you getting little profit from each sale. Having said that, as above, you can't really lose. If you don't sell any paperbacks then you pay nothing. If you do, you pay, but will always receive a royalty.
The first image below show that the image does not meet the edge of the book cover as initially I did not ensure that the image cover was taken right to the white lines.
The number 9 below is close to the edge and this is why the text needs to sit in the red lines of the guidelines to ensure that there is a margin. This margin is defined by the space between the red lines ( in which all text must sit ) and the white lines ( in which the cover image itself must sit).
I'll probably be updating this post again with how well the paperback sell...if at all. Watch this space.
So, it's the 17th of January 2017. I've created paperback versions of all my short stories. They arrived today. Very impressed with the quality - cover, layout...even the paper - of which (upon setup) I have the option of plain white or cream. I chose cream as I think it's easier on the eyes. I've put some pics below. Looking forward to completing my Theft of Lies series and getting some paperbacks of those too.