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CPI UK Review

CPI is a UK book manufacturer and provider of self-publishing services, and part of the CPI Europe Group, which has operational bases in the UK, Holland, Czech Republic, Germany and France. As well as Antony Rowe, CPI UK includes five other book manufacturing companies, William Clowes, Mackays, Cox & Wyman, Bookmarque and White Quill Press – all working with some of the UK’s largest and smallest publishing houses and independent small presses. All of the companies in the CPI UK Group have the resources to produce books at print run lengths of one or one million. Antony Rowe is specifically marketed by CPI as the company to cater to self-publishing authors and their book publishing needs.

CPI Antony Rowe specialise in high-speed, short to medium-run monochrome book manufacturing – using digital sheet, digital web, and lithographic presses. They can produce single copy and ultra-short run, monochrome, two-colour and four-colour books.

Rowe offer four packages to the self-publishing author:

Base PackageDesign and Distribution PackageMarketing PackageFull Publishing Package
An author can simply start with the Base Package and add individual services on as they require.

Base Package

The base package includes an ISBN and barcode (registered to the author or their imprint), registration with Nielsen BookData, Legal Deposit of one copy (this is the basic legal requirement, but authors really need to ensure a copy of their book goes to all deposit libraries in the UK and Ireland). Pre-press set up from your PDF files (author needs to provide these files), and Rowe will provide an imprint page template for the author.

Additional services like typesetting, cover design and use of FSC paper can be provided at further cost, as well as marketing, PR, warehousing, distribution and online bookstore services. However, none of these (including the online bookstore services) are included.

It strikes me that the Base Package would really be more suitable for someone running a very small press than it would be for a self-publishing author, unless you can provide print ready files.

Design and Distribution Package

This package will take the author’s manuscript and convert it to a suitable interior layout and also provide some cover templates the author can choose from (author must provide the cover image).

As part of the design and distribution package, we can typeset your manuscript from a Word document into a PDF at a reduced rate. We’ll lay the text on the page in book format number the pages, presenting the finished file in a printable format.

Rowe does host an online bookstore to list an author’s book, but the following piece from their website on this package could be a little misleading.

Cpibookdelivery.com is the online bookstore for small publishers. Thousands of books are sold online every day on sites like Amazon, with books published in the UK available to readers all over the world. Cpibookdelivery.com allows you to sell your book directly to the public, meaning you keep control and keep more of the profit. Using our online bookstore saves you the fees normally paid to distributors and middle men, making it the most profitable way to sell your books worldwide. A listing on cpibookdelivery.com is included in the design and distribution package.

This is exclusively an in-house bookstore of Antony Rowe’s and their publishing clients and not a full distribution channel, though the package does offer wholesale stocking of five copies with Gardners Books for 12 months.

Gardners Books is probably the UK’s largest book wholesaler – as part of the design and distribution package, Gardners Books will keep five copies of your book in stock for 12 months. What this means for you and your customers is high street availability at major chains and independent booksellers alike. If your book is not on the shelf of a local bookshop, a customer can order it at the shop and collect it, usually the next day.

Again, we are back to the old chestnut of ‘availability’ over shelf space. This will make your book available to order, but not necessarily put it on a bookshelf. The bookseller must still decide to order it in. Nevertheless, this is more than some author solutions services provide.

Marketing Package from the Rowe website:

“The marketing package is for those who’ve already written and designed their book but need a help in launching the book into the public eye. Creating a great book and making it available is only half the story – the marketing package can help raise the profile of your book and bring it to the attention of your potential readers.

The marketing package includes a number of printed marketing items:

52 leaflets – includes a template design, pre-press set up and 52 printed leaflets.

20 posters – includes a template design, pre-press set up and 20 printed posters.

50 bookmarks – includes a template design, pre-press set up and 50 printed bookmarks.

56 postcards – includes a template design, pre-press set up and 56 postcards.

50 advanced information sheets – includes a template design, pre-press set up and 50 printed copies.

For those wanting extra marketing support who feel they would benefit from the services of a public relations consultancy specialising in book PR, we are able to introduce you to reputable providers.

Right, so we get posters, bookmarks and leaflets. This is not a marketing package as I understand marketing – rather an array of printed products to help sell your book. I’m still in two minds about the benefit of these kinds of packages from author solutions services. I consider them more complimentary tools you use at book signings, include with ARC packs sent out; things you leave on tables at conferences and workshops, but ultimately they have a very limited affect on sales of your book.
The real giveaway here is the admission that those ‘who feel they would benefit from the services of a public relations consultancy specialising in book PR, we are able to introduce you to reputable providers.’ There is a great deal of difference between marketing and promotion, and the critical part of what sells books is what Rowe refer you externally to.

Full Publishing Package

In addition to what you get in the Base, and Design and Distribution packages, you get a choice of two of the options in the Marketing Package, as well as 50 AI’s (Advance Information sheets). I suspect you ‘get them’ as well – meaning YOU send them out, not Rowe.

I would not describe this as a full publishing package by any means. Frankly, this package sums up a lot of what CPI Antony Rowe offers self-publishing authors. What they offer is important and well executed in quality of print, essential details of book production, but it is in no way a full or complete publishing package.

CPI Antony Rowe provides a simple author’s guide to self-publishing, and it is exactly that – very simple, and lacks a great deal of substance and depth to what can be a big endeavour for an author. Retail book prices vary from looking at their bookstore, but what is very striking to me is that audio and large print publisher, W. F. Howes, consumes a considerable amount of their titles in the bookstore.

Rowe also provides ebook conversion as a service as well as workshops for self-publishers.

Overall, Rowe are essentially a book manufacturer, who offer what I would regard as a limited self-publishing service, suitable more for the proficient self-publisher than the novice in this area. There are a lot of holes the author will be expected to plug and look after themselves, but as a book printing option, with warehousing and fulfilment services, they may very well suit the needs of a small press or experienced self-published author in the UK. What I really do like about Rowe is their ability to interact with authors through their partnerships with Winchester Writers’ Workshop and I think it’s an area they need to expand on much more to strengthen their growth and reputation as a path for authors wishing to self-publish.  I would also like to see a few print sample estimates made available on their website as well as more links to author and publisher partnerships. I think Antony Rowe need to step a little outside of the shade of the CPI mother ship, and create their own brand with the self-publishing community and that is something Geoff Fisher and his team need to work on.

RATING: 6.6/10