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WEEKLY WRITE-UP – 12th September 2018

by Tom Ashford
Welcome to the very first SPF Weekly Write-Up! Each and every Wednesday we’ll be rounding up the self-publishing news of the week as if it were a herd of wild horses, and ushering it gently into the paddock that is your knowledge.

And what a week (or two, or three) to start with – two big changes have taken place over at Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) – neither of which you need worry about too much – and another big development has happened involving… Walmart?

Read on to find out more.

AMS is Dead, Long Live Amazon Advertising

Don’t panic.

Amazon isn’t changing the services it offers, only some of the names those services go by. As they explicitly pointed out in a recent email, how we use their products, and how we work with Amazon, will not change.

What this means is that going forward, all of the ‘legacy’ brand names such as Amazon Media Group (AMG), Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) and, of course, Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) will be phased out, to be replaced by the much simpler and cleaner Amazon Advertising. The change won’t be instant, so don’t be surprised if you still see the old phrases popping up over the next few months.

According to the Amazon Advertising blog, the shift in name is part of a move to simplify their product portfolio and reduce the complexity which has grown around their solutions. Most importantly: your active campaigns will not be impacted.

Amazon Advertising’s full product portfolio consists of: Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands (which used to be known as Headline Search Ads); Display Ads, Product Display Ads; Video Ads (via channels such as Amazon and IMDb on Fire TV, Fire tablet and other third-party sites and apps); Stores (which allow vendors and sellers to create their own websites, with their own branded URL, on Amazon); measurement solutions (campaign reporting, etc.); and Amazon DSP (previously AAP).

CreateSpace is Dead, Long Live KDP Print

Okay, this time things really are changing.

A little over a week ago, Kindle Direct Publishing announced that CreateSpace and KDP were to become one service. It’s a move that’s been predicted ever since Amazon introduced the option to produce a paperback directly through KDP alongside the ebook edition, yet it’s come as a surprise to many.

There are reasons for the change, besides the obvious convenience for Amazon in only having to manage one print-on-demand company. Though at first it was the more bare-bones of the two options, KDP now offers Expanded Distribution for those wishing to sell paperback books to physical bookstores in the US, as well as the opportunity to sell paperbacks on the Canadian and Australian Amazon stores (with Mexico to follow). What’s more, KDP also offers features that weren’t available through CreateSpace – ads to promote paperbacks on, and locally printed author copies in Europe.

It’s okay though – the change will be made as seamless as possible. And as KDP so transparently pointed out in their email, “on KDP, your paperbacks will still be printed in the same facilities, on the same printers, and by the same people as they were on CreateSpace.”

In a few weeks (or what might be a week or so by the time of writing this), they will start to automatically move all CreateSpace books to KDP – the books will remain on sale and earning royalties through the move but you will be unable to edit existing titles or create new ones in this time (on CreateSpace, that is). You’ll also be able to move the titles across yourself, should you wish.

Either way: if you have a new book coming up for release and you used to create the paperback editions through CreateSpace, you’re going to have to go through KDP instead.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t cause too much confusion!

Walmart eBooks

Perhaps it’s because I’m British and only ever encounter Walmart when I head over to Texas to visit the in-laws, but does Walmart eBooks sound as bizarre to you as it does to me?

Back in January, Walmart partnered with Rakuten (which owns Kobo) to distribute preloaded Kobo e-readers in its US stores and encourage the purchasing of its digital books. It seems that partnership has been taken to a whole new level.

Walmart eBooks has a store with more than six million titles, and it offers a monthly subscription service for audiobooks that’s only $9.99 (compared to Audible’s $14.95). Much in the same way one can download and access Kindle titles without having to own an actual Kindle, Walmart and Kobo branded apps have launched for both iOS and Android.

With Amazon controlling such a high proportion of US eBook sales, it’s unlikely that Walmart’s partnership with Kobo will have all that great an effect on the market. It seems more likely that they’re simply presenting an alternative option to Kindle to the customers visiting their physical stores… and possibly retaliating to Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. Only time will tell.

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford is a professional copywriter, author of numerous dark fantasy and sci-fi novels, and the Head of Content at the Self Publishing Formula Blog. His books include the Blackwater trilogy and the Checking Out series.

He lives in London with his wife, in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Find out more about Tom here.