Online Book Publishing

I write. I write a lot of thing: emails, presentations, books, and now blogs.

Earlier this year, I wanted to print a book of my son's writings. I wanted to do this quickly, easily and inexpensively. Since I had published a book with Prentice Hall and Sun Press, I believed I could do it myself. What I found out was, anyone that can use a word processer, Microsoft Word or OpenOffice, can publish a book.

The process was this: Branden wrote the basic content, then I helped with him with editing, and organizing the content into chapters. Next I added a title page, back page, copyright page, and Index. For the printing of the physical book, I used CafePress.com.

I setup Tiger Farm, a CafePress.com store http://www.cafepress.com/tigerfarm, and added in Branden's book into the store. Then I printed copies for Branden, friends, and family. I used CafePress.com because they have a user friendly web site to aid publishers like me, and because they have no upfront setup fee. The total cost to print 10 of Branden's book, and have the books delivered to my home for was about $120.

There are many sites on the Internet to do publishing on demand, but the ones I looked at have a setup fee starting at $99 USD. For example, Booksurge with Amazon.com. Yes, they also have more features and options, however I want something of reason quality, quick and easy...a simple inexpensive process.

CafePress.com has an interesting business model:
1. They have a number of products that people can have customized. People customize the products by have their writing, and pictures printed onto them. For example, print logos or clever saying unto the CafePress.com coffee cups or tshirts.
2. People setup their own stores, add the products into the store, such as coffee cups with clever sayings or as I have done, adding books.
3. Then anyone can buy the customized products from CafePress.com, with a portion of the sale going to the store owner.

Now,
I write, I edit and publish under the name Tiger Farm.

Comments:

In June 2009, CafePress began competing with the artists for whom it acts as printer and shipper.

CafePress rents web shops to its artists. The artist creates a website page and manually loads the desired blank products. The artist imports his image onto each product, arranges the products on the page, describes the products, titles the products and tags the images.

Initially, the artist would set a markup and received the markup for each product sold.

However, recently CafePress began competing with its artists, using the artists' own images. CafePress created a marketplace where a customer can search a keyword. That search brings up artist products. When the customer buys from the marketplace CafePress pays the artist 10% of the price CafePress set. Both the customer and the artist lose money. If the artist's shop sells a t-shirt for $21, the artist makes $3.01. If the marketplace sells the same shirt for $25, the artist gets $2.50. The customer pays $4 more, and the artist gets $0.51 less.

CafePress tells artists to "promote your own shop," but CafePress buys Google adwords using the very image tags the artist provided.

CafePress justifies this bait and switch of service terms by telling artists they can opt out if they don't like the new terms; however, many have spent as much as 7 or 8 years creating as many as 88000 images.

In spite of their sweat-equity, many shopkeepers (content providers) are building shops at other print-on-demand companies and then closing their CafePress shops due to the broken faith and trust, the financial hardship CafePress has delivered into so many lives, and the huge amount of time and dedicated effort all lost in the momentum of their own businesses. Would you keep your AMOCO station franchise if AMOCO built a company store across the street from you?

Posted by Linkin on June 23, 2009 at 10:29 PM PDT #

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Tech event, training, business, in east and south Asia.

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