Amazon Now Offers Paperbacks Through KDP — Should You Use It?

If you haven’t yet heard the news, Amazon recently rolled out a new feature on its KDP site: paperbacks! The new paperback features are considered to be in beta, but if you want to get your books into the program, Amazon has thrown open the doors to let authors start using it now.

Even better, Amazon allows you to import your existing CreateSpace books (remember, Amazon owns CreateSpace), so there’s no new ISBN to assign. You can bring in any paperbacks you already have set up on CreateSpace and get them onto the new system right away.

But do you want to? Let’s look at the pros and cons of Amazon’s new paperback offerings.

Why You Might Want to Use It

Same royalties

This new option offers the same royalty plan as CreateSpace for distribution on the Amazon store, only now it’s explained more clearly: 60% minus printing costs.

Everything in one place

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never liked that I have to check both my KDP and CreateSpace earnings if I want to accurately track everything. Putting paperbacks into KDP makes it a whole lot easier to see what you’re making.

You get to use Amazon’s catalog system

CreateSpace’s catalog was a crazy mess of the BISAC system. You never knew which category would map to which Amazon search term. With the new KDP Paperback features, you can use the same categories you picked for your e-book, plus you get keywords! And we all know how important great keywords are, right?

Distribution to Japan

Kind of a ho-hum option if you ask me, but KDP paperbacks are distributed to Japan through Amazon, which wasn’t available through CreateSpace. If you have a big potential Japanese audience, maybe this is a good thing.

Convert your KDP e-book to paperback

If you don’t already have a paperback version of one of your e-books, the new paperback features can import your e-book data and do most of the setup for you. But KDP takes it farther than CreateSpace did: You can upload your Kindle-formatted Word document if you don’t have a PDF of your book’s interior. KDP will try to format a paperback based on your Kindle book’s appearance. It may not be perfect, so you’ll want to double-check everything if you use that method. (I attempted to play with this option with my only non-paperback book, but it’s two pages too short for conversion to paperback.)

Speculation: KDP-style promotions?

Pure speculation mode: Amazon may eventually offer some KDP-style promotions for paperbacks. What if you could do a Countdown deal or something similar? It doesn’t look like any such options yet are available yet, but you never know what Amazon may have planned.

Why You Might Not Want to Use It

No CreateSpace store

There’s no CreateSpace store with KDP paperbacks. That means you can no longer offer your readers a coupon for a discount off your paperback when they buy through CreateSpace.

No author/proof copies… yet.

Amazon says they are working on allowing you to purchase wholesale copies, but that option is not available with KDP paperbacks right now. If you make a lot of use of the CreateSpace option to purchase wholesale copies for giveaways, advance reader copies, book shows, and to sell through your own website, you might not want to jump to KDP paperbacks just yet. Or stock up on a big supply of wholesale copies through CreateSpace before you switch.

No expanded distribution… yet.

One of the cool parts of CreateSpace was the expanded distribution channels, which got your paperback into the Ingram catalog so bookstores and libraries could easily purchase it. That’s not yet available as part of KDP paperbacks, but Amazon says those features are coming later.

No special trim sizes

The new KDP paperback features support the industry standard trim sizes, but not the non-standard custom sizes CreateSpace offered. If your book uses a custom trim size, you’ll want to stay on CreateSpace for now—and possibly even start looking for another option. (See below.)

An Important Consideration

It’s very important to note that the transition from CreateSpace to KDP paperbacks is a one-way street. There is no way to put things back if you decide you’d rather stick with CreateSpace after you’ve moved your paperback to KDP. The process actually deletes your paperback from CreateSpace, so make sure you are good and certain you want to move to KDP before you pull the trigger!

The Eventuality

Amazon has folded CreateSpace products into itself before, then killed off that part of CreateSpace. Not too long ago, after Amazon launched its own Video Direct platform, it removed the CreateSpace option to publish digital videos on Amazon. In fact, all of those videos on CreateSpace were eventually forced to move to Amazon Video Direct to continue selling. I suspect that once KDP paperbacks are out of beta, the same thing will happen here. So if you’re using a custom trim size at CreateSpace, now would be a good time to start looking for other options.

You will be assimilated!
You will be assimilated!

Wrapping Up

I decided to jump to KDP paperbacks now. Because neither of my paperbacks need to be proofed, and I don’t need wholesale copies, it made sense for me to get everything to the one dashboard and start taking advantage of the better marketing tools on the KDP side. What about you?

26 thoughts on “Amazon Now Offers Paperbacks Through KDP — Should You Use It?

  1. Great news, Jordan Smith. I love the idea. I have two books but have no interior designs, would KDP suggest designs or will I have to find my own?

    Thanks for the info though.

    1. If you uploaded a Word file to create your KDP e-book, you can use the same file to make your paperback’s interior through KDP. I don’t know how well the conversion process works, but it is an option.

      My friends over at Penoaks Publishing do a good job with interior designs at decent prices.

  2. I look at the cons and think… why not have it on createspace for things like expanded distribution/proof/coupons but move the Amazon sales over to KDP… seems like a win win and not much extra work.

  3. Does using KDP paperbacks take away your ability to use CreateSpace? For example, could you move a book to KDP paperbacks but continue to use CreateSpace just for author copies and discount coupons?

  4. Doug and jenetta, unfortunately once you move your paperback from CreateSpace to KDP, that book is removed from CreateSpace entirely. You could set up a new paperback on CreateSpace, though it would have to be a new ISBN.

    Again, Amazon says expanded distribution, proofs, and wholesale copies are all coming to KDP in the future. So even if you don’t transfer your paperbacks now, it might make sense to do it later.

  5. One of my CreateSpace titles is also on Kindle. On CreateSpace it has notes in the margin, wide outer margins, and extra leading. I’m concerned that if Amazon closes CreateSpace, the paperback version will lose the leading and other good features my book designer created in InDesign. I’m concerned my notes, now in the margin, will migrate to the back of the chapter, or worse, the back of the book. Any insights, Jordan? Thanks for this helpful article.

    1. It looks like Amazon is keeping the same paperback conversion process that CreateSpace used—the online previewer is exactly the same, just branded with Amazon’s logo. If you used a PDF file for your book’s interior on CreateSpace, everything your book designer did should flow right over into the KDP paperback system.

    1. At this point, there’s probably no real reason to jump over to KDP with paperbacks if you are using the wholesale copies from CreateSpace. I haven’t noticed any early adopter bump in sales or anything like that, so you might be better off waiting for Amazon to finish the transition.

  6. I just asked KDP to explain this option today and am awaiting to hear back. I am receiving my 3rd proof from Createspace soon and it is finally good to go (I checked the digital previewer). The finality of the switch is a little scary, but I like the “pro” of all the sales info in one spot. I will order my author copies for the book launch and right after I receive them, go exclusive with KDP. Like you said, I think it will eventually be mandatory anyway.

    Thanks for all the info!

    1. If you provide your own ISBN, you can probably use it with multiple print services. But if Amazon is the one providing the ISBN, you’ll probably want a different one for each service.

      There is no exclusivity requirement for KDP paperbacks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon eventually offers an exclusive option with more benefits, similar to KDP Select.

  7. I’m trying to decide whether to publish my first book with CreateSpace or the KDP Paperback beta. On the one hand, it seems like KDP offers much better royalties on paperbacks sold through Amazon.com ($2.27 vs $0.58), but on the other hand, CreateSpace lets me buy books at cost.

    I’m tempted to sign up with CreateSpace first, then switch after a month. Are there other factors I should think about?

    1. Since KDP Paperback doesn’t allow you to buy proof copies yet, I would suggest going with CreateSpace for your first book. It’s important to get a real, physical proof copy when you are starting out to make sure everything is correct.

  8. One thing I can’t live without that Createspace has that I have wished for so long that KDP would adopt: Createspace’s detailed royalty report generator. It’s so much more useful than KDP’s generic royalty reports. SIgh. I really hope if KDP does swallow up Createspace that they switch to that for both ebooks and paperback.

  9. Can you do full bleed / color children’s picture books at KDP? What funny timing – I was just prepping my first book for upload to CreateSpace. Thanks!

    1. My guess is yes. The easiest way would be to start a new paperback project on KDP and see what options you get. It doesn’t actually go live until you publish it, so there’s no harm in making a draft KDP paperback to explore the options.

  10. Hi Jordan,

    If I export my ebook from Scrivener as a PDF, how well will that translate to KDP Paperback if I simply uploaded the PDF? Would that just be a disaster?

    Thanks,
    Shane

    1. Good question! PDF is the format KDP paperback wants. They should be printing exactly what you see in the PDF file. So if it looks good when you look through the PDF, it should look good in the print. When in doubt, though, start on CreateSpace so you can order a physical proof, then transfer to KDP Paperback if you want to end up there.

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