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Last autumn CreateSpace – which I had been using for my print-on-demand paperbacks for nearly a decade – was bought out by the Amazon behemoth and absorbed into its KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) offering.  Monopoly concerns aside, I was delighted for two reasons.  Firstly, KDP customer service offers a call-back service to anywhere in the world (CreateSpace would call only US numbers, so I never spoke to them).  And secondly, whereas CreateSpace POD paperbacks were printed in South Carolina and it took ages and cost a fortune to have them delivered to the UK, KDP POD paperbacks are printed in (it turns out) Poland, which is much closer and therefore quicker and cheaper for delivery.  With a spring in my step and a song on my lips, I placed an order for twenty copies of “Fatal Forgery” with KDP on 29 October 2018.  And then it all went wrong…

  • 29 October 2018: Order placed for twenty copies
  • 12 November 2018: Order arrives – and eleven out of the twenty copies are trimmed far too meanly, with the title disappearing off the edge of the cover.  Using the fab new call-back facility, I explain the problem to a nice person at KDP and they tell me to return the faulty eleven copies for a refund and then place another order – which I do.
  • 18 November 2018: The replacement eleven copies arrive – with exactly the same poor printing.  I speak to another nice person at KDP and explain the problem, and they say that the matter will be escalated to a manager.  After about a fortnight – with several chasing calls and emails in the middle – the manager finally confirms that the eleven replacement copies I received were the same ones I had returned…  Apparently the stock system was delighted to find just the right number of copies on their return shelves to fulfil a new order.
  • 16 December 2018: The manager places a new order for eleven copies, and says that I can keep the eleven dodgy ones (otherwise, if I return them – well, you can guess).
  • 24 December 2018: Four replacement copies arrive.  I chase the remaining seven copies and am told that the manager ordered only four and not the agreed eleven – this nice person at KDP orders another seven.
  • 9 January 2019: The seven copies arrive – with two of them packed so badly in the box that their covers have bent and they are not suitable for sale.  I speak to another nice KDP person – they are all charming and seem genuinely saddened by the poor service I have received – and they order two replacement replacement copies.
  • 18 January 2019: The two replacement replacement copies arrive.

Et voilà – it’s as simple as that!  A mere 80 days after placing my order for twenty copies, I have them.  Didn’t someone manage to get all the way around the world in that time?  I begin to dream longingly of South Carolina….