Print-on-demand publishing through CreateSpace

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#** subtitle as it should appear in the Amazon catalog (optional)
#** subtitle as it should appear in the Amazon catalog (optional)
#** volume number
#** volume number
#** interior style: black & white or full color
#** page color: white or off-white
#** page color: white or off-white
#** trim size (in inches or millimeters)
#** trim size (in inches or millimeters)
#** cover price (if using option B above)
#** cover price (if using option B above)
#** page count
#** page count
#** interior style: black & white, full color, or black & white with color insets
#** author first name
#** author first name
#** author last name
#** author last name

Revision as of 11:50, 10 February 2011

SPO operates a robust print-on-demand service that sells high-quality, low-cost reprints of public domain books from Michigan’s digital collections. We have also been experimenting with helping Michigan faculty put their out-of-print books back into print with this service, as well as setting up a few serial publications to be sold as print-on-demand softcover copies.

For these serial publications, SPO acts as a broker between CreateSpace (formerly known as BookSurge), a print-on-demand printer owned by Amazon, and the journal editor (the publishing partner). These publications are sold on SPO's account with CreateSpace and are submitted to CreateSpace by SPO staff with an ISBN assigned (and paid for) by SPO. There are options for sharing revenue with publishing partners.

Items are included in the Amazon catalog, and links are provided from SPO's online version to Amazon for any users who wish to purchase a paper copy. In addition, the publishing partner can order copies at manufacturing cost.

Below is a more detailed description of printing capabilities and costs, as well as instructions for SPO's publishing partners that edit serial publications.


Printing capabilities

CreateSpace can print items in a wide range of trim sizes, subject to minimum and maximum page counts (Go to the tab called "Book Sizes and Artwork"). CreateSpace can print in monochrome or full color, but color costs more (see below).

Setup and manufacturing cost

For selling print-on-demand copies of an item through CreateSpace, there's a one-time fee to purchase an ISBN (from Bowker, the official ISBN agency for the United States). There is also a fixed charge for printing each copy, which covers the cost of printing the cover, and per-page costs for monochrome and color pages. In addition, Amazon charges a delivery fee for mailing copies after printing.

These costs are covered through a combination of a set-up fee and/or the retail price of the volume, set through one of the two options described below.

Do we really need an ISBN if our journal already has an ISSN? Yes. An ISSN is a unique identifier for the journal title. Its use aids in tracking subscriptions. An ISBN is unique identifier for an inventory item, like a book or a journal issue sold individually. While ISSNs are free, ISBNs, unfortunately, cost money.

Interested in the costs? SPO pays Bowker $1.75 per ISBN and Amazon publishes its US shipping fees and international shipping fees.

Sample and complimentary copies

SPO can order sample and complimentary copies on behalf of publishing partners at the cost of manufacturing plus shipping.

Sale price

There are two options for setting the retail price of each copy.

A. SPO sets the price

SPO will set the retail price, based on estimated sales, in order to attempt to recover costs involved in setup and administrative overhead. The publishing partner does not receive any revenue from sales, and SPO will not attempt to profit from the sales. If SPO determines that sales do not offset setup costs, SPO may stop setting up new issues for sale with 60 days' notice.

B. Publishing partner sets the price

SPO will calculate the cost of manufacturing a single copy and provide this information to the publishing partner, who will then decide the retail price at which they wish to sell copies. The publishing partner may change this price at any time by notifying your contact at SPO, who will adjust the price in Amazon.

SPO charges a setup fee of $45 per item made available for sale. This fee is subject to change with 60 days' notice. Once a year, SPO will calculate the profit made selling items for the publishing partner, minus any setup fees incurred that year. SPO will notify the publishing partner of the account balance. If the publishing partner owes SPO, SPO will produce an invoice; if SPO owes the publishing partner (for royalty dividends), SPO will inform the publishing partner of the total royalties. The publishing partner invoices SPO for this amount, and SPO pays this dividend.


Our publishing partners are responsible for providing SPO with ready-to-submit files: a print-ready PDF of the cover and one of the interior pages. Here's the procedure:

  1. Ask your contact at SPO to give you an ISBN for the new issue of the journal. You will need the ISBN for filenames of files to be submitted to SPO (see below). It is also good practice to include this ISBN somewhere in the book block, such as on the title page verso (with the copyright information). Send your contact the following:
    • title
    • volume number
    • issue number
  2. PDF files should be prepared according to the submission guidelines. SPO cannot provide assistance in preparing these files, but SPO has a representative at CreateSpace who is happy to be contacted if you have questions about the preparation procedure not explained in the documentation. Your contact at SPO can provide you with the contact information for the CreateSpace representative. There are also some helpful resources available from Create Space
  3. Send the files to your contact at SPO for submission to CreateSpace. These can be sent as email attachments or mailed to SPO on disk, or SPO can download them through FTP. The files should be named as such (where 978123456789x is the ISBN assigned to the issue by SPO):
    • 978123456789x.pdf —the PDF for the interior (the "book block")
    • 978123456789x-cover.pdf — the PDF for the cover
    • 978123456789x-metadata.txt — a text file containing the following:
      • title as it should appear in the Amazon catalog
      • primary author:
        • prefix
        • first name/initial
        • middle name/initial
        • last name/initial
        • suffix
      • short description
      • additional contributors (names broken down as above)
      • subtitle as it should appear in the Amazon catalog (optional)
      • volume number
      • interior style: black & white or full color
      • page color: white or off-white
      • trim size (in inches or millimeters)
      • cover price (if using option B above)
      • page count
      • author first name
      • author last name
      • one applicable BISAC subject heading (this refers to a list of subject headings used by booksellers, available here
    If any sample or complimentary copies are desired, specify the number and whether you require an invoice for this amount.
  1. Your contact at SPO will set the issue up to be printed and sold. If sample or complimentary copies are requested, your contact will calculate the cost and invoice you (if you require it). The amount due may be paid by check (from US banks only), wire transfer, money order, or credit card. Once the invoice is paid, your contact at SPO will order the sample or complimentary copies on your behalf.

Once the item is available for sale, SPO will add a link from SPO's online version of the journal content to the item for sale on Amazon.

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