Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lulu vs. CreateSpace (again), or It's tough being a Canadian

So, I've actually sold a few copies of rtfm* through Lulu and CreateSpace (the CreateSpace sales reflect people buying the book from Amazon). This lets me talk about, you know, getting paid.

In previous posts, I've suggested that Lulu was more flexible than CreateSpace and that CreateSpace was more rigid. This distinction continues to be reflected in their methods of payment.

Lulu has two ways to get your royalties to you: They'll send you a cheque or they'll deposit your money in a PayPal. account. I picked PayPal and, sure enough, every month my royalties appear magically in my PayPal account (where it just as magically disappears, transformed into a book or CD from ebay). OK, not every month--but every month where I actually make a sale.

CreateSpace also offers two options: They'll send you a cheque or deposit money directly in your account (my first thought: how quaint). The problem is that CreateSpace insists that you have a US taxpayer identification number before it will give you your money. So, as a Canadian, I have a couple of extra hoops to leap through with CreateSpace that I don't have with Lulu.

I'm sure that CreateSpace has a good reason for this (though Lulu disagrees). As a technical writer and software developer, I have a number of US clients (actually, 90% of my clients are in the US) but I've managed to get money out of them without having a US taxpayer id. I've usually had to provide a W-8BEN form to my US clients and I sent one to CreateSpace. However, without a US tax id, CreateSpace is uninterested in sending me my money.

So, if Lulu is more understanding of international users and more flexible then why use CreateSpace? One word: Amazon. Using Lulu, to get my book on, I'd have had to pay $100 (last time I checked). The fee actually covers much more than just getting your book on Amazon but that was all that I was interested in. With CreateSpace, getting on is effectively free.

So, if CreateSpace gives you what you want, why use Lulu? Again, a single word answer: e-book. CreateSpace does not have an e-book option (or I couldn't find it). I suspect this is to avoid stepping on the toes of Amazon's Kindle but that's pure supposition on my part. While I'd love to have my book available through Kindle, unfortunately Amazon requires that you have a:
  • US mailing address
  • A US taxpayer identification number
  • A US chequing account (apparently sending you a cheque is not an option for Kindle)
I could make the first two happen but, for the money involved, I'm not prepared to try and open a whole new bank account.

It's an international world out there...except at Amazon.

Reading or read:

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