Friday 10 May 2024

Amazon KDP or Lightning Source for your paperback?


Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Lightning Source are two prominent platforms used by authors to print paperbacks, each offering unique features and benefits


Amazon KDP



It makes distribution in other countries that have Amazon stores easier. Stock control is better and no customs to worry about. 

You can’t get books into book shops without paying a much higher fee. 

It’s cheaper- no set up fees, no annual fees.

Less choice in formats than with Lightning source.

Amazon gets these titles out quicker than it does Lightning Source’s.

Other retailers can’t buy the books.  


Once we take the book out of print we can’t still offer author copies. 



Lightning Source



It’s easier to get book into book shops. The ISBN tells the retailer how to order it. 

You can incur import charges and high transport charges.         

More choice of formats and better quality.

We have to pay set up costs, fees for alterations and an annual distribution fee. 

Once we take the book out of print we can still offer author copies. 



There are a few things to consider here:

Even though Amazon KDP can distribute to a country where there is an Amazon, we have to open an account with that country. This isn’t always straightforward.

We can in fact work directly with bookshops though it is more work for us.  

We pay an annual fee per book of £8.50 for distribution via Lightning Source. Yet retailers sometimes can’t source the books. Ingram’s shrugs its shoulders. I have managed to penetrate this and it comes down to a middle man not understanding how print-on –demand really works. I’ve had some success with The Hive and Waterstones. Amazon is rather Kafkaesque.

We may now start involving authors in deciding which method to use. Some will be uncertain. And if they are happy to take our advice we’re happy to give it.

The crucial point may be about what happens after the book goes out of print. Note though, we have to take a book out of distribution once the term is finished and if the book isn’t covering its distribution fee.  We can leave it in short run which means we can still obtain author copies and even sell to bookshops. But at that point the book wouldn’t be visible to the public except in our own online bookshop.  

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