Susan Grossey

Helping Sam to storm the bookshops – or not

As you may know, I had a Major Triumph last week when Toppings in Ely, a fabulous independent bookshop with perhaps the best views from its windows, agreed to stock “Fatal Forgery” and “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”.  Buoyed with enthusiasm, I decided to think a bit more about real bookshops as well as online ones.  One of my real bookshops is G David in Cambridge, and as we were chatting they suggested that I could try to get my books listed on Hive, which – bit confusing this – is a website that lists books in local bookshops.  You can buy them online, and then collect them from the bookshops.  An interesting hybrid approach.  But Hive also stocks books on their own account, and – as they are obviously imaginative people – I contacted them and explained my plight.  Is there any way, I asked, that my CreateSpace self-published books could be listed on Hive, with me personally fulfilling any orders that come in (and passing on a commission to Hive, of course).

And back came this reply, which I am sharing with those of you who have also been bitten by the self-publishing bug, as it is the clearest explanation I have read of the current situation for self-published authors here in the UK (or, at least, not in the US): “CreateSpace is a publisher that is based in the US that has not yet set up a UK based distributor.  This means that we are unable to consider any title published by CreateSpace because we are simply unable to source CreateSpace titles at this time.  Currently there’s only two ways that we can purchase CreateSpace titles:

  1. You buy copies from them, list yourself on Nielsen as the distributor and then our orders would come directly to you.
  2. You reprint using a new ISBN, list yourself on Nielsen as the distributor and then our orders would come directly to you.”

Neither of those options appeals to me at the moment (the first would definitely knock out any profit I could make, what with postage from the US and then postage on to buyers, while the second would cause confusion with two ISBNs per title), but it is certainly useful to have a clearer understanding of the distribution (or non-distribution) of self-published titles in the UK at the moment.  What we need, of course, is a CreateSpace UK – which has been promised for years.


  1. Debbie Young Avatar
    Debbie Young

    Hi Susan. Good news – the service you need does already exist, and many self-published authors are using it to resolve exactly the problem you describe. What you have to do is publish your book using the same ISBN via Ingram Spark, from whose database it is then available to bookshops. There’s a really good post about how to use both CreateSpace and Ingram Spark together here: There’s also another post about it coming out in the next few days on the same blog. (I don’t have psychic powers, in case you’re wondering – I’m Commissioning Editor of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ blog!)

    I can tell you from the research I’ve done for the Alliance Independent Authors for the campaign “Authors4Bookstores” that we’re launching next month at the London Book Fair that very few shops will stock CreateSpace books in any case, as they are averse to Amazon, which they perceive as having eroded traditional book retailing.

    In the meantime you can also find really useful information about how to get your books into bookshops in the guidebook I co-authored for the Alliance (ALLi): Opening Up to Indie Authors – available through CreateSpace as well as ingram Spark! (The ebook is free to ALLi members – more about joining ALLi here:

    Hope that helps – and feel free to message me if you need any more info.

    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      Hi Debbie
      This is really helpful – thank you. As I see it (from your post, and the one you link to), I am not sure it is worth it. To be with Ingram Spark, I would need to pay, and also buy my own ISBNs (which in turn would mean paying for new covers to feature those new ISBNs) – plus a fair amount of work. And then, at the end of it, your ALLi research suggests that bookshops won’t be keen anyway.
      For full-time authors, this might be worth exploring, but for someone like me – with a day job and doing the writing (and, of course, the marketing) in evenings and at weekends, I just don’t think I can find the extra hours.
      Thank you again for your comment – very useful to have such a professional view of it.
      Best wishes from Susan

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