Bite Me on the Barcode: More on Pricing and POD for the Aussie Author

From Annette Hamilton’s Writing Zone:

I published my children’s book The Priceless Princess with Kindle and Createspace just a couple of months ago. I had already purchased my own ISBNs which I used correctly, one on each version. Book came out, very cute, set a low price for the print version thinking of my Australian readers who would have to pay the US dollar price. Dumb me only then realised that Amazon in Australia does not sell any print versions. Australian readers would have to go to the US site, purchase in US$ and then pay a fortune to have the book posted to Australia. Or buy copies from my website. So I order a bunch of copies from Createspace and lo! I am paying  dollars per copy just to have them posted to me in Australia by the only postage option available through Createspace.

Don’t want to do that again, so I would have to do what everybody recommended and get the print version onto Ingram Spark, who do print in Australia. I download their nifty Cover Generator and it asks do I want to set a price in the barcode. What? So I go back to my Createspace version and notice for the first time that there is a code adjacent to the ISBN, and it is Code 90000. For a minute or three I am diverted by the idea that this could be a great title for a thriller, although Code 9000 would be better. But back to matters at hand! This code turns out to mean that no price has been set. Should I set a price? What price should it be – the same as the Createspace one on the Amazon site? But that is in US$ and obviously for people who are in the US.  I need these books asap, so to save time I decide to use the Amazon price in the barcode so I send the  Cover Generator to my illustrator who is putting the files together. But I am uneasy about it, and go into research mode. Should I have put the price in the barcode, or not?

Of course there is no clear answer. I email Ingram Spark, they email back almost immediately (great service by the way) to recommend that no price be put in the barcode because if you ever change your price then you have to reprint the cover and upload the new one, decommissioning the previous one. But other sources say bookshops won’t stock books that don’t have prices in the barcode. Codes begin with a number indicating where the book is published and priced. 5 is for the US. 3 is for Australia. If for some reason a store outside Australia wants to stock your book it won’t be able to sell it if the code starts with 3 because its stock system won’t be able to read it.

Some say it is another covert way to tell whether or not a book comes from a “real” publisher as against one of those pretend publishers who are really just some idiot typing something up in Word and using wicked Amazon to hide behind, people like me.

Link to the rest at Annette Hamilton’s Writing Zone

Here’s a link to Annette Hamilton’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

6 thoughts on “Bite Me on the Barcode: More on Pricing and POD for the Aussie Author”

  1. I need these books asap, so to save time I decide to use the Amazon price in the barcode so I send the Cover Generator to my illustrator who is putting the files together. But I am uneasy about it, and go into research mode.

    I’ll take cart before horse for $1,000, Alex.

  2. The price in the barcode and the region code are problems. There are bookstores that will not stock books that have the price in the barcode. Chapters in Canada, for instance, will not stock a book that does not have a Canadian price printed on the cover and a price in the barcode, except when they do for books from certain publishers.

    As for the region code, the traditional publishing industry and their bookselling sycophants have divided the world up into little fiefdoms that exist only in their minds. Unlike DVDs there is no technical barrier to a reader opening and reading a book from a different region code.

    Each publisher must decide on their own whether it is worth the burden to attain the benefit.

    The burden: creating, updating, and maintaining different covers.

    The benefit: the possibility of being stocked on the shelves of certain stores.

    Some things to consider about the benefit:
    Following all the rules and being eligible to be carried on the shelves of Store X does not mean your book will be carried on the shelves of Store X. How many books do you expect to sell off of bookstore shelves?
    If a bookseller considers it an unreasonable burden to put a price sticker on a book or to enter a price in their database when a book is first stocked, how much effort are they going to put into selling your book?
    The only thing stopping a bookseller from stocking or selling a book that doesn’t follow the rules is that bookseller’s adherence to rules they made up themselves. As long as they can order a book from a distributor, they can stock it and sell it–if they wish.

    • It’s so weird that all my print books are available through Ingram and I’ve never faced this option / question. None of my books have prices printed anywhere on them, and Chapters has picked them up, one-by-one as I publish the paperback editions. I’ve never tried to sell my books to Chapters, so I’m assuming my readers have requested they stock the books. If that’s right, maybe reader requests trump all other considerations?

  3. Isn’t this entire problem solved by having expanded distribution through CreateSpace? Many, many, MANY Australians use the Book Depository because it’s relatively cheap, in AUD, and there is free shipping. Think the royalty payment is smaller, so maybe Ingram Spark is worth it for that reason.

    To be honest, striving to get serious space in bookstores seems to be too hard and time consuming for any real benefit. Maybe I’m wrong, but bookstores (especially Australian ones) seem to exist mainly to sell the latest bestsellers, the classics, cookbooks, and maybe a small thriller section.

    • Well, if the issue is in selling through bookstores, that’s one thing to work out. If it’s getting the books cheaper for the readers in Australia, that’s another problem. Both at the same time? Probably not going to work, or at least not using one distributor.

      Maybe someone should point the article’s author in the direction of that Book Depository place. I’ve seen others talk about it, seems like a good option.

  4. As another Australian author, what I’ve done in the past with my indie books is to put books up through Createspace, with the correct pricing to ensure they go into wider distribution, then the books appear not just on Amazon, but also on Book Depository for the same USD price – and Book Depository have free delivery worldwide.

    That takes care of online print-readers globally.

    Then as well as that, the books will (eventually) go into the Ingram and B&T catalog (that wider distribution thing), and bookstores etc anywhere in the world can then order the books in. Whether the stores put them on their shelves is another question, but I’m more concerned in those readers globally who still insist on going into a bookstore being able to say to their bookstore person – you can order this book in for me.

    And the bookstores do. I know small bookstores in outback Australia that have ordered those indie print books in via either Ingram or B&T when a reader has asked for them. And that also works for the UK, I believe.

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