Amazon’s hardcover option – what you need to know
If you’re the type of author that likes having print versions of your books available and you haven’t logged into your KDP dashboard in a while, you may want to go and take a quick look. Amazon has started to roll out a hardcover format as a choice available to authors, right alongside the eBook and paperback versions. The feature is still in beta testing and not all authors have access to it, but if you don’t see it yet, you probably will soon. Here’s Ginger with what you might need to know about this new print option.
Have you been given the option of producing hardcover editions of your books yet? If not, here’s what you might need to know.
An increasing number of self-published authors are seeing a new box on their Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard – the option to publish hardcover copies of their books, just like they’ve been able to do with paperbacks.
The program is still in the beta phase, but Amazon appears to be expanding access to it – and it’s generating a lot of interest from independent authors.
Early reports from participating authors have been pretty positive – with the binding, cover wrap, and paper quality of these print-on-demand hardcovers all generally considered to be on par with traditionally-published books. This is an exciting option for many authors who’d previously have had to go through IngramSpark or find their own printing firm to produce similar products. Given that IngramSpark requires a $49 fee to upload and publish a print or ebook, it’s easy to see how appealing this new option will be, since it costs nothing extra except time and formatting costs.
Speaking of costs – I’ve researched uploading my novels using the hardcover option, and the printing costs generally work out to be a little over twice the cost of printing paperback versions of my books. For example, my 400 page MC Romance novel normally costs $5.50 to print in paperback format, and it’s around $13 according to the new hardback printing estimates. Relatively speaking, that’s a fair price – especially given how good the print quality seems to be.
However, for authors looking to make a little profit on each of the books they sell, it means the retail price for a hardcover edition will generally exceed $20. Is that too much? Well, that’s a subjective question. How many hardcover copies of your books do you expect to sell?
I write in romance – which is a genre dominated by ebook sales – and I’ll admit that I’ve rarely sold more than one or two paperback copies of my books through the Amazon website. For me, paperback sales are generated at in-person events, having purchased them direct from Amazon beforehand, so for authors looking to offer a slightly more expensive option there’s still profit to be made from purchasing hardcover editions as author copies through the KDP dashboard.
A slightly more tangential benefit, however, is that authors who add hardcover options for their book sales then have an additional format to offer potential readers – and the high price of a hardcover edition often makes the price of the paperback or Kindle edition look much more reasonable by comparison (especially if your ebook is in Kindle Unlimited, making it appear for free.)
Take a look at Lee Child‘s latest book (and ignore the Mass Market Paperback option.) Don’t all those purchase options look impressive? Offering a hardcover edition of your book allows you to add that extra sheen to your product page without actually having to invest anything other than the time and effort to produce the new format.
But let’s talk about that – the time and effort involved in creating a hardcover version of your book. How much work is actually involved?
Well, for the most part, the trickiest thing will be designing a print-ready cover – and if you’ve already mastered producing a cover .PDF for your paperback editions (or found a cover designer who can do that for you) it’s not that much more of a challenge to produce the hardcover copy. The biggest difference is bleeding the background image out so that it can be wrapped around the edges of the hardcover to produce your final book. You can see from the template example below that there’s a lot more pink space (bleed art, which shouldn’t contain any words or important graphical elements) than a regular paperback template.
Other than that, though, the process is largely the same – and significantly easier than going through IngramSpark or another printing service.
However, that has never been the only reason authors have chosen IngramSpark over Amazon’s Print-on-Demand service. The other benefit is that IngramSpark offers the option of discounting your books from between 30% and 55% at retail – which makes them much more attractive (or, alternatively, the only viable option) for bookstores looking to stock your book. As far as I can tell, this is still an option that Amazon doesn’t offer for either their paperback or hardcover editions; and that remains one of the many obstacles preventing self-published authors from getting their books into brick-and-mortar stores.
However, with the development of the hardcover option, and the speed in which Amazon is rolling it out to KDP dashboards, I think it’s a safe bet that the remaining hurdles have been recognized – and Amazon will be tackling them in time, too.
Despite writing and self-publishing remaining one of the most difficult and challenging ways to earn a living, Amazon seems to be continuing its commitment to helping independent authors bypass the gatekeepers of traditional publishing and put them on a level playing field with more established authors.
Will this make a difference to your self-publishing career? Only time – and your commitment – will tell.
However, we want to hear about it! If you’ve self-published hardcover editions of your books using Amazon’s new beta program, please let us know what your experience has been like in the comments section below. It seems like an exciting new development and I’m already eager to get hardcover editions of all my books printed.