So What’s Going on at Amazon and Createspace?

Internet retailer and bookselling behemoth Amazon announced it was laying off workers for it’s self-publishing service, Createspace, because it’s getting out of the business of offering editing, marketing and design services to authors.

Createspace will continue its normal printing operations for authors with ambitions to sell their work without a publisher.

Does this indicate anything beyond Amazon making a relatively small change in its enormous operations?


At Smith Publicity, we proudly declare that we are “an equal opportunity book marketing firm.” It’s not who published a book, or how it was published that matters to us – it’s all about quality and publicity potential. Roughly half of our authors are self-published. We try to keep our costs as reasonable as possible, and use highly-experienced professional publicists to implement campaigns.

In offering ancillary services to authors such as book marketing, Createspace had joined other self-publishers who moved from being essentially printing operations to becoming full service publishing service providers. We know from direct feedback from many authors, that some self-publishers had difficulty providing, for example, high-quality marketing services.

There is nothing wrong with self-publishers upselling/introducing additional services to authors, but book publicity services – especially services that are proactive and comprehensive in nature – are not “check box” services – they’re multidimensional, expansive and typically sold via extensive consultation.

I know from direct experience that some self-publishers struggled mightily with any author services beyond printing and ensuring author’s books are set up on all appropriate bookselling sites. Most have to go outside and hire specialists and agencies for things like editing, design and marketing, and in doing this – need to mark-up costs. In some cases, this results in a self-publisher selling book promotion services at nearly twice the cost as compared to an author going directly to that service.

Other self-publishers, such as BookBaby, offer an array of additional services at very reasonable cost. They look to attract authors by being a one-stop platform for authors, and ancillary services help them do that.

My guess, and it truly is only a guess, is that the management, delivery, and pricing of the Createspace author services was simply too difficult and time-intensive, and in terms of profit, wasn’t worth the investment of offering them. A standard, run-of-the-mill business decision for a company the size of Amazon.


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