Monday, 9 June 2014

Amazon, Createspace And When Customer Service Goes Heroic

So my third serious novel, Shemlan: A Deadly Tragedy is only available online, there's no Middle East edition. Don't you just loathe people who start sentences with 'so'? Me too.

You can buy Shemlan as a paperback from (and the various Amazon dots), Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository or order it from any independent bookshop in the world by citing the ISBN number 978-1493621934.

It's a rather smashing book. I strongly suggest you do one of the above. The kitten might just make it through, see? This here handy link to the buy links for the book shows you where to get it as a paperback, Kindle ebook, Nook, on your iPad or, in fact, as any other ebook reader format ebook. But the paperback can be yours wherever you live, from Alaska to Kamtchatka. The Book Depository even ships it FREE OF CHARGE!

Do it now, you'll feel better. It's okay, I can wait. Here: I'll even do a reminder link.

Right? Great, thanks. Anyway, the reason you can buy Shemlan as a paperback anywhere in the world is because of a clever little Amazon owned operation called Createspace. Createspace allows authors to mount their book online and then prints out books to order using POD technology - Print (or Publish) On Demand. So they put an ISBN number in one end and a printed paperback with a nice glossy cover filled with wonderful words comes out, gets put in a shipping box, addressed to you and arrives a day or so later.

So when you hit that 'buy' link on Amazon or any other serioo book website, Createspace prints your book to order and despatches it to you.

A POD book is barely different enough from a booky book printed on novel paper for most readers to notice a difference. The quality is just fine.

It's all pretty marvellous, really.

However, there's trouble in paradise. People in the UAE hate buying books online - and Amazon hates selling ebooks to the Middle East. So most people don't bother buying the thing, they wait for me to have stock and buy 'em direct from me or just don't bother at all. For this reason - including a couple of upcoming events I'm doing - I bought 20 from Createspace earlier this year. They're more expensive to print than booky books, no surprises there, really, and so cost about Dhs30 a copy landed. That's too expensive to make traditional book distribution make any sense, 'cos disties take 50% and so with a cover price of Dhs60 dufus here doesn't make any money. Not, incidentally, that I have to. But I sell 'em direct and at signings and so on.

My books never turned up. I kept popping up at Sharjah Post Office so full of hope and optimism it was starting to remind me of back in the day when I used to go there to pick up the inevitable wodge of rejection slips. Months passed. Nada.

So I eventually told Createspace about it this week. And within the hour they'd mailed me back, said terribly sorry and promised to ship me a replacement batch out priority. I have to admit, I was impressed.

But that was nothing to how I felt today when DHL rocked up at the office with a box of 20 books. They DHLed them to me! How beyond the call of duty is that? I got my 20 books FOUR days later!

I emailed them to say thank you. They mailed back:
It is because of comments like yours that we strive to be the very best. Thank you for your very kind feedback! Without members like you, we could not continue to provide the service you have come to expect from us.

Your comments are greatly appreciated, and I sincerely thank you for choosing us for your self-publishing needs.  
Best regards,
CreateSpace Member Services
Now you might call me easily impressed, but I'm blown away. Totally. I'm grinning like a Cheshire Cat who's just done a major hit of Amyl and found out in that very instant he's won the Lotto and Kate Bush is coming to tea naked.

If you want to buy a book, BTW, be my guest! Just hit me up at the usual @alexandermcnabb. I'm off to see if I can eat dinner with this grin in place.

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