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does amazon kdp print board books

Does Amazon KDP Print Board Books?

Board books are a popular format for young children. With their thick cardboard pages and small size, they can withstand eager little hands much better than regular paperback books. As an author or publisher, you may be wondering if Amazon’s self-publishing platforms like KDP print board books. As a professional board book printing manufacturer, we will help you to find it out.

When it comes to board book printing, the answer is no. Amazon KDP and their other self-publishing platforms do not currently offer print-on-demand services for board books. The specialized printing process makes it cost-prohibitive to print single board book copies on-demand.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use Amazon to sell self-published board books. You’ll just need to arrange your own offset printing run first. Once you have the books printed, Amazon provides several options to sell and distribute board books.

does amazon kdp print board books

Why Doesn’t Amazon KDP Offer Board Book Printing?

To understand why Amazon KDP doesn’t print board books, it helps to know what makes them different from regular paperback books. Board books are printed in a very different way:

Thicker Paperboard Pages

The pages of a board book are made from thicker paperboard rather than regular paper. Paperboard is similar to cardboard – thicker and more durable for little hands. Most board books use paperboard around 1.5-2x thicker than standard book paper.

Stiffer Binding

The binding needs to be more rigid to attach and open the stiff paperboard pages. Board book bindings involve more steps and material costs compared to paperback binding.

Extra Printing & Finishing

The paperboard pages also cannot be printed using regular offset web printing presses designed for thinner paper. Special sheet-fed presses with extra finishing steps are required for the lamination process.

All of these factors make board book printing slower and more expensive per unit compared to paperback books. That extra cost means it’s not feasible for print-on-demand book providers like Amazon KDP.

Instead of printing single copies at a time, board books need to be printed in larger offset print runs. Offset printing brings down the per unit costs by printing hundreds or thousands of copies at once.

Tips for Self-Publishing Board Books on Amazon

Since Amazon KDP doesn’t offer print-on-demand for board books, you’ll need to arrange your own printing first. Once you have the books printed, Amazon does provide good options for selling board books online.

Here are some tips:

1. Set Up an Amazon Seller Account

The first step is creating an Amazon Seller Central account if you don’t already have one. This allows you to list physical products for sale on Amazon’s marketplace. There are two main plans:

  • Individual – $0.99 fee per item sold. No monthly fee.
  • Professional – $39.99 monthly fee. No per item fees.

You can compare the features to see which fits best based on your sales volume.

2. Choose Between FBM and FBA

Once your seller account is set up, you can choose to fulfill orders yourself or have Amazon handle fulfillment:

  • Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM) – You store inventory and ship orders yourself as they come in.
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) – Send inventory to Amazon warehouses and they’ll store and ship orders for you.

FBA costs more since Amazon charges storage and shipping fees, but saves you effort. As monthly sales increase, FBA becomes more cost-effective from the time savings.

3. List Your Board Book

With your seller account ready to go, list your book as a new product just like any other. You’ll need to enter title info, description, keywords, categories, pricing, quantity and more.

Amazon’s listing process walks you through each step. You’ll also want professional product photos and expanded book description text to make the listing shine.

4. Drive External Traffic

One of the key benefits of selling through Amazon is their existing traffic, but don’t rely completely on that. Make efforts to promote your book’s Amazon listing and drive your own external traffic as well.

Advertise your book’s listing URL on your website, email lists, social accounts and anywhere else you have an audience. Every new customer that discovers your book organically makes a world of difference.

Selling board books through Amazon does require some extra work since print-on-demand isn’t available. But the massive built-in audience Amazon provides is extremely valuable exposure for self-published books.

By arranging your own printing and fulfilling orders as sales come in, you can successfully sell board books through Amazon’s marketplace.

Offsetting the Costs of Printing Board Books

Printing even a small run of board books represents a significant upfront investment for self-publishers. A run of 250-500 copies can easily cost $2,000 or more depending on specifications like size, length and printing options.

It’s smart financial strategy to have plans in place to earn back your printing costs fairly quickly. Here are some effective methods:

Secure Bulk Sales Before Printing

If you can presell copies before printing through bulk orders, it makes paying printing costs much less stressful. Reach out to local schools, libraries, bookstores and anywhere else that may order large quantities at once.

Even selling 50-100 copies before printing puts a good dent in the overall quantity you need to sell to break even.

Offer Wholesale Discounts

Offering resellers a wholesale discount on bulk quantities encourages higher volume sales. Standard wholesale pricing for books allows resellers to mark your book up 30-50% for their own retail profit margin.

Printers can also handle order fulfillment for wholesale orders at your request. This simplifies the process since you don’t have to store extra inventory onsite.

Build Direct Preorders with Kickstarter

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo allow you to collect preorders to fund printing costs. They attract support from fans, friends, family, and followers.

Sweet rewards for higher contributions provide incentive for supporters to preorder copies and help fund production.

Schedule Release Parties & Events

Hosting release events in the first couple months after your book is printed can generate a nice sales boost. Scheduling these shortly after taking delivery of the print run ensures you have inventory on hand to sell.

Events also build awareness as fans tend to promote and share your book with their own networks.

The upfront expense of paying for a print run before books start selling is daunting for any self-publisher. But some savvy planning goes a long way towards earning back that investment efficiently.

Securing some portion of sales ahead of time provides cashflow to offset printing costs. And generating hype for the book coming soon often leads to a spike of sales once it’s released.

Approaching a board book printing project with realistic sales expectations helps greatly in budgeting properly from the start.

Alternatives for Self-Publishing Board Books

If paying thousands upfront to print board books isn’t feasible for you right now, all hope is not lost! There are a couple options that allow you to test the market before fully committing:

Printing a few board books at a time using a home printer is an affordable way to create prototypes. Services like Mixam allow you to easily print board book files uploaded as PDFs in small quantities.

Of course, quality won’t match large professional printers. But if crafted carefully, it allows you to mocked-up finished copies to use selling or for small test runs.

Crowdfund With Flexible Goals

Running a crowdfunding campaign for your board book with a flexible funding option means you receive the money raised whether you meet your full funding goal or not.

If a smaller dollar amount comes in that covers printing a lesser quantity, this allows you to scale down and print what fits your revised budget. Versus an “all or nothing” traditional campaign that only pays out if you meet your entire goal.

Adapting your plans to align with your actual funding allows for moving forward. Then your book gets out into the world, building an audience for your next project! Sometimes starting small is the smartest path to eventual larger print runs down the road.

Despite the extra effort required compared to paperback printing, self-published board books are very fulfilling to create. That sturdy little book will go on countless adventures with young readers!

Using Amazon FBA or fulfillment services streamlines the process of selling board books online as orders come in. Securing some presales before finalizing print plans helps tremendously in covering printing costs as well.

What questions do you still have about self-publishing board books? Leave them below for feedback!

Final Thoughts on Self-Publishing Board Books

As challenging as arranging printing and sales may feel at first glance, thousands of self-publishers can attest to the rewards of creating board books far outweighing the effort required.

That excitement on a child’s face when they first grasp your book makes every late night and tough decision along the journey melt away in an instant.

The good news is that by using printing services combined with Amazon FBA, modern self-publishing authors have access to world-class tools for producing professional quality board books.

What unique board book ideas can you think of that fill an need you see in the children’s book marketplace? Share your thoughts below!

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