Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Amazon CreateSpace Discontinues Pro Plan

My brother Paul and I have been indie-publishing our novels through Amazon's CreateSpace service for over a year now. We wanted physical copies of our books to give to friends and family, and to have on our shelves. It's one of those things that is just nice to see. For every book we published, we purchased their Pro Plan for $39. Doing so lowered the printing costs, which meant three things for us:
  1. Copies we bought for ourselves were less expensive
  2. Copies other people purchased gave us a higher royalty, and
  3. (probably most important) We could have a lower list price.

Without the Pro Plan, I would have had to have listed my first novel, Pariah, for at least $12 a copy. With the Pro Plan, I can sell it for $8 per copy. And I get a higher royalty than the $12 copy would have given me.

All things considered, we didn't like having to pay $39 up front for each book we published, but we felt like we were getting a good value. We got to order copies for ourselves at a lower price point, and then we'd only have to sell a few more to break even.

The staff at CreateSpace sent an email today notifying me that the Pro Plan has been discontinued. They decided to give everyone the lower costs and higher royalties.

Thank you for your recent purchase of Pro Plan. As a member with Pro Plan, we're emailing to let you know that Pro Plan is being discontinued as of January 18, 2012. We're now offering industry-leading royalties, low costs on copies of your books and improved distribution options to all our members, free of charge.

I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it's great that they decided to do this. I don't have to purchase the Pro Plan for every title I publish from now on. And I still get the benefits of it, so it lowers the cost of indie-publishing paperbacks through their service. This is great news. I don't dispute that at all.

Here's where my problem lies:

On September 16, 2011, we purchased the Pro Plan for The Sol-Bect War, Part 1. This was four months ago. Therefore, I only received one third of the service I paid for. I should get a $26 refund. I really doubt they'll do anything. And in a way, I'm sort of okay with it. After all, it was four months ago. I'm over it.

On January 8, 2012, we purchased the Pro Plan for The Sol-Bect War, Part 2. This was ten days ago. Obviously, the people at CreateSpace must have known they were going to discontinue the Pro Plan. There must have been meetings. And yet there was no indication at all that anything was going to change. They accepted the $39 payment and never said a thing. And then I get this email. Naturally, I expect a full refund. Their email, however, had another plan:

Since you purchased Pro Plan within the last 30 days, we're giving you 5 free copies of your book for each title you enrolled. Be sure to use your unique offer code(s) when placing your member order(s) so you can get 5 copies free.*

Um... okay.. wait a minute, there's an asterisk. Scroll to the bottom of the email and they add:

*Your offer code(s) are unique and are valid on member orders only for one time use on any of your books through January 18, 2013 at midnight PT. With this offer, you will have to pay the costs associated with having these complimentary copies of your book shipped to you. Void if transferred and where prohibited by law. Any other use constitutes fraud. We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to terminate or modify this promotion at any time.


Wow. So I get five copies of the book, roughly a $25 value, but I have to pay shipping for them? They took $39 and ten days later they offer me $25 in compensation. I've sent a message to their support and I'm hoping that they just refund the money.