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An Important Announcement for Murania Press Customers

Posted in Murania Press on November 9, 2018 @ 4:17 pm

As we write these words, Murania Press has arrived at a turning point in its 11-year history.

Those of you who’ve been loyal customers since we published The Blood ‘n’ Thunder Guide to Collecting Pulps in 2007 know that we’ve subscribed to the POD (Print On Demand) model of small-press publishing, which obviates the necessity of maintaining large inventories and printing books in quantities of 500 or 1000 copies to get a feasible unit cost.  We began with a printing company then called Lightning Source but in 2009 transferred our allegiance to an outfit named CreateSpace, which offered cheaper unit costs and had the added benefit of being allied with Amazon.

That year we brought Blood ‘n’ Thunder to CreateSpace as well, and since then every Murania Press publication has been printed by them. Our books and magazines, with rare exceptions, were produced at and shipped from their South Carolina plants in Charleston and Columbia. While there have always been delays in processing large orders (such as our shipments to wholesale customers), for the most part we were able to fulfill single-copy orders expeditiously.

Last year we began noticing delays in single-copy shipments, and this year the situation has gotten steadily worse. It’s currently taking CreateSpace an average of ten business days to print and ship one book. We’ve complained repeatedly but to no avail. Things took a turn for the worse following September’s Hurricane Florence, which pounded the Carolinas and flooded the areas where CreateSpace’s plants were located.

The rollouts of our two most recent publications, Behind the Mask and Those Sexy Serial Queens, have been close to disastrous as a result of CreateSpace’s snail-like service. We deserve some of the blame for delays in early shipments of Mask, which had to be recalled to address a serious copyright-page omission regarding current ownership of The Lone Ranger. But even after processing the corrected files we sent, CreateSpace dragged its feet on fulfilling the initial batch of orders, resulting in month-long waits for customers.

Being now owned by Amazon (which is in the process of folding it into Kindle), CreateSpace has naturally been more prompt fulfilling orders for our books placed with Amazon. Of late there have been whispers among small-press publishers that this is a deliberate strategy to drive more business to that corporate behemoth at the expense of marginal operators like us. Apparently Jeff Bezos and his underlings don’t have enough money already.

We are keenly aware of dissatisfaction among those who purchase Murania Press books via our website. All year long we’ve fielded your e-mails. Most people have been understanding, some have not. We’re acutely aware Amazon has made rapid shipping so easy, and for no extra cost to Prime members, that customers don’t want to wait two weeks for a book from us when they can get it from Amazon in two or three days.

The problem is that we can’t survive on Amazon royalties, which return to publishers significantly less money than they can make by selling their wares directly via website. That’s why, even though fully aware of the inconvenience involved, we’re asking you to keep purchasing Murania Press products directly from us — even though you’ll have to wait longer to receive them.

We’ve established a reputation for non-fiction books that are well researched, well written, and well edited. We provide the handsomest editorial packages our limited budgets will allow. But it requires enormous investments of time and effort to turn out products of the quality we maintain, and unless we can meet a certain profit threshold we won’t be able to continue.

In recognition of the current difficulties, we’re taking steps to guarantee better service during the upcoming Christmas shopping season. Even though it runs contrary to the POD model, which was supposed to free us from the necessity of fronting money for inventory, we’re already ordering quantities of the books on which we intend to run holiday-season sales. Come early December we’ll have them on hand and will ship directly to you without relying on CreateSpace for short-order fulfillment. Obviously, if we run out of stock early on certain items, we’ll have to reorder and keep our fingers crossed for timely shipments from the plant.

What happens in the future? Well, we’re already looking for viable alternatives to CreateSpace. Unfortunately, the most likely is also vastly more expensive: our unit costs would practically double, forcing us to raise prices or accept greatly reduced profit margins. So we’re still looking.

During this difficult period we’re asking that you stick with us, even if it means longer wait times. Otherwise we’ll have to close down — and we don’t want to do that.

Watch this space for future announcements about future developments at Murania Press.

5 thoughts on “An Important Announcement for Murania Press Customers

  1. sorry I should have said have you looked into Lulu.com? Not as big but they are respected and highly sought after. The comic strip retailcomic used them last year for a book collection.

  2. I looked into Lulu many years ago, before I settled on CreateSpace. At the time I wasn’t happy with their quality of printing, especially on halftones (with which my books are loaded). But maybe I ought to give them another shot.

  3. I fully understand the delay problem but perhaps you should at least acknowledge if and when a book will ship or that you got our payment. I ordered a book (and paid for it)eight days ago and still have heard nothing.That, to me, is the key to Amazon: I know where the order is in the system. I’m happy to support the small press (I used to publish small press magazines and books) and order direct from you but let the customer know what’s going on. Thanks!

  4. As a matter of fact, Peter, just yesterday I got a notice from the printer that your book had left the plant and is in transit. I can give estimated shipping dates upon placement of orders and will consider doing that. As it happens, service is slowly improving and wait times getting shorter.

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