forall x: YYC is now on Amazon (and how it got there)

Back when I described the process to publish a text on, commenter penrodyn suggested to try CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing platform.  So I did. You can now purchase forall x: Calgary Remix on Amazon (Canada, UK). (Apparently it already ranks #27 in the Math/Logic category!?)

It turns out it wasn’t hard to do at all. CreateSpace works pretty much the same way Lulu does. You need a PDF of the interior that matches one of the sizes offered. I picked 7.44″ x 9.69″, which is almost the same as Lulu’s Quarto size, so I could use the same PDF as for Lulu.  Getting the dimensions for the cover was a bit harder, since CreateSpace doesn’t tell you what the specific dimensions should be, and lets you compute them yourself.  You also need to include .125″ bleed on all sides. On the upside, they put the ISBN bar code on it for you.  The file to produce the CreateSpace cover is here. Before the book is ready to sell in the Amazon store, the PDF has to be reviewed–this takes about a day.

The final product is slightly lower quality than Lulu’s, and is probably comparable to Lulu’s “value” print option (in the US store called “standard”). Note, though, that only two format options are available at “value” prices for Lulu (e.g., if you want quarto, value isn’t an option). The cover print is less vibrant, the inside stock used is lighter and less bright. It also ended up being slightly more expensive (US$11.35 vs. US$10.64 at Lulu; CAD 15.47 vs CAD 12.08 at Lulu). Depending on if you catch Lulu at one of their very frequent discount deals,  you might be much better off with Lulu, especially if you (or your bookstore) orders a whole bunch. But if it’s not the only book you’re buying, Amazon probably will get it to you faster and the shipping will be free.

The price point surprised me a bit because the original comment said CreateSpace is a lot cheaper. And it in fact is, but only for yourself: I can order the book for $4.54.  $11.35 was the minimum list price I could enter, and apparently I get $2.27 in royalties for every book sold. I feel bad about that, but I promise to use it only for good (like pay for the website!).  [UPDATE: If you deselect “Expanded Distribution,” the minimum US list price is a lot less and you don’t have to take royalties.] Another difference is that CreateSpace only does USD, GBP, and EUR, so proof copies ship from the US and you have to pay US$. [UPDATE: Also, you should be aware that it can take a few days for the book to become available on Amazon. CreateSpace books sold on also go up for sale on the Canadian site, but it can take up to 30 days.]

Lulu also lets you list your book on Amazon (and Barnes&Noble, etc.), but: you have to purchase a physical proof copy before it’s approved, the list price will be higher than what you can set it to on ($8 more), and I suspect it will ship from an Amazon seller and so you won’t be able to bundle it with other Amazon orders for free shipping. But I haven’t tried that yet.

Overall, it was easy enough, the quality is decent, and if your bookstore can’t bulk order for your class, your students may prefer ordering from Amazon. If you want a really cheap but perfect-bound book, use Lulu, go with the standard/value option, and sell at cost. If you care about the quality, use Lulu’s standard/premium print option. If you want it to be available ASAP, use Lulu. If you want convenience and visibility, use CreateSpace.