Cheaper Shipping, Less Mystery: I Heart CreateSpace


Any follower of this blog will know that I love CreateSpace, the Print-On-Demand service that I used for Mousetrapped, that I’m using for the soon-to-be-released Self-Printed (have you seen the cover? It’s here in 2-D and here in 3-D) and that I will use for the currently-being-written Backpacked. I’ve always found their service great, their products of good quality and their customer service second to none, but up until now there was one not-so-little thing that was spoiling all my fun: their shipping costs.

My shipping costs were actually greater than the costs of the books I was having shipped (although as I’ve said before, even taking this into account, they were still cheaper per unit than Lulu). By way of example, here are some orders I’ve placed with CreateSpace in the past:

  • On 19th March 2010, I ordered books which cost $181.50 and paid an additional $230.90 to ship them to me by standard shipping*
  • On 2nd April 2010, I ordered books which cost $90.75 and paid an an additional $131.90 to ship them to to me by economy shipping
  • On 25th April 2010, I ordered books which cost $174.24 and paid an additional $225.95 to ship them to me by standard shipping.

*CreateSpace had three shipping speeds: economy (forever), standard (a week or two) and priority (express courier). 

Anytime they sent me a survey or asked for feedback, I always said the same thing: I love you, but your shipping is killing me here. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, and CreateSpace were listening, because they are now offering far more reasonable shipping rates to all their customers. For example, I just ordered books that cost about $50 and the economy shipping was only $23.99. Better yet, I could upgrade to expedited shipping for just $34.49 (i.e. an additional $10.50).

But that’s not the best bit. Before, CreateSpace shipping costs were an utter mystery until you actually came to ordering your books. This wasn’t much good for a self-publisher who had yet to even decide on a service, let alone produce their book, and was looking to factor shipping costs into their budget, business plan or pros and cons list. I used to tell people to find a book similar in size and page count to theirs that was already published on CreateSpace and try to buy copies of it through the book’s CS eStore; this way you could guesstimate how much it was going to cost. But now CreateSpace have installed this:

A shipping costs calculator! Oh joy of joys. You can now work out how much buying copies of your own book will cost you before you even register for a CreateSpace account and get estimated quotes for how much it will cost you to ship those books to you by CreateSpace’s new shipping speeds. Hooray! You can access it here. Long overdue but hey, better late than never.

And another thing: One of the reasons I don’t like using CreateSpace’s forums is because of the disproportionate level of complainers on there. (But then same with TripAdvisor, ApartmentRatings, etc.) Reading the entries, you’d think that CreateSpace were in the habit of drowning peoples’ puppies and making them watch. So here is a nice CreateSpace customer service story, courtesy of me, and if you were getting suspicious, no, they’re not paying me to say nice things about them. (Although they should be.)

CreateSpace changed their shipping policies on March 29th, and sent out an e-mail to all customers saying as much. What this e-mail didn’t say, however, was that certain customers (i.e. international ones) wouldn’t be able to avail of the same shipping methods that they had in the past – at least not for the moment, anyway. What this meant was that I’d no longer be able to order books on a Friday, pay for expedited shipping and then have them arrive 7-10 days later, as I had done in the past. Trouble is, this is exactly what I was planning on doing for the copies of Mousetrapped I’m bringing to Mousemeets this Saturday. So I got a bit of a shock when I went onto the site and found that I’d have to wait six weeks for my books to arrive, or until May 20th. As you know, Saturday is April 30th, or The Day After The Royal Wedding Day.

I sent CreateSpace an e-mail asking what was up, and they responded by saying that for a few weeks, international shipping options would be limited while they changed things over. BUT as a courtesy to me, they would upgrade and thus expedite my order at no extra charge. Not only that, but they would upgrade any other orders I placed in the meantime. And so, thanks to someone called Ashley at CreateSpace, my books arrived on time (they’re already here) and at no extra cost to me.

(And they have now installed their new options, so no, you can’t go running off to get free upgraded shipping!)

So CreateSpace, I loved you before, but now I really love you. Now all I need is a hardcover option and I’m yours forever.

UPDATE: CreateSpace have since contacted me to say that they do have a hardcover option available for anyone who has published a paperback book with them. The upgrade fee is a one off $199, and then there’s charges onto that. HOWEVER this option is only available for books you are ordering from them yourself to sell on, and not for sale through their retail channels. It is this that I’m after. On Lulu, you can make a hardcover book and sell it just like you would any other book. I appreciate that they got in touch, but that’s what I hope CreateSpace eventually get around to doing. In the meantime though, I’m more than happy to keep selling my CreateSpace paperbacks…!