Being in LSI or Createspace distribution is not the same as "being in a bookstore." Yes it allows your book to be "special ordered" by walking up to the customer service but that's not even true - Back when I had books self-published (both through LSI and CS) I did a test and ran across many stores that even though they were "in the system" they couldn't be bought. When I asked why they just said that it was policy not to order print-on-demand titles (which they could tell by the fact that there was exactly xx titles showing as "available for sale."
Bookstores don't want a 20% discount. They expect 55% minimum and they want it marked as "returnable." Let's break it down. A 300 page book selling for $12.95. LSI printing cost = 0.13 * 300 + .95 (It's been awhile since I've done LSI not sure if this is the right cost but it is what it used to be). $4.85 discount at 55% = $7.13 So profit per book sold in store = $0.97. Now factor in just a few returns where you will lose the $4.85 price to print and you are in the red.
But you are right - that takes no effort - so why not do it...but again this is not what KR and DWS are talking about. They are talking about doing a print run, having books with a distributor, and on the shelves. Checkout what it takes to get a distributor to represent your book. I have - and it's a big process. And guess what...if you distribute through them - they won't do "print-only" they want their cut of ebooks so you 70% royalty is gone.
A friend of mine was all excited because he submitted his title to the official B&N program and it got a stamp of approval. He thought he had it made. When the book got listed 700 copies were sold. 60 days later 685 came back - his cost: $3,000. How much did he make? $14.50.
So yes - by all means have a POD through CS or LSI...and let people buy it online through Amazon & B&N just don't take the extra effort to try and get them "on shelves" either by walking in and doing a consignment or going through a distribution house. If you are going to be "in the store" then you need to be through a traditional publisher that already has print-run capabilities (to get the per piece price down), warehousing, and already have a track record of getting books ON SHELVES not just "orderable."[/list]
Uh, no, you've completely misread what Kris and Dean (and others) have been saying. (Full disclosure, I'm good friends with Kris and Dean, so I think I can at least reiterate what was pretty clear in their blog posts, but I'm also speaking from my experience as a former bookseller). Kris and Dean are NOT talking about doing a print run. You need to go back and read them again. It's all POD. What they're saying is that if you price your book so that stores get a decent discount, bookstores can and will order you just like any other book -- either for general stock or customer request, no difference. I had a bookstore. I can't say anything about the chains, that's a whole other ball of wax, but with indie booksellers, almost all orders came from Ingram or Baker and Taylor (again, for general stock as well). So yes, if your book is available through those distributors, it has the same chance as a book from a traditional publisher. You can send them a publisher's catalog just as Random House or S&S does. And you're conflating distributor with publisher. Not the same thing. Ebooks have nothing to do with print distributors.
Your hypothetical trade paperback price is pretty low. It's tough to make any money through distribution with POD if you're below $15/book. Honestly, if you go lower, it's probably not worth it. But yes, I completely agree that the warehouse model (big print runs to get the unit price down) has big advantages.
Other than that, you kind of made the same point, didn't you? Just because you can be ordered, doesn't mean you will be. It's always better when your books is pulled (by readers) rather than pushed (by authors).
And yes, bookstores can tell that you used POD, but many trad publishers are moving to POD for backlist as well, and small presses have been using it for years. That plus other changes that Ingram and Baker and Taylor have made recently have brought the walls down even more. This information is coming directly from booksellers, by the way, so if people don't believe me, go talk to some independent booksellers. Ask how they do business, how they get their books, etc. There's a lot of misinformation out there now, especially because things are changing. Get it from the horse's mouth and don't trust what some writer tells you on a listserv. Including me.