Well, that’s not entirely true. CreateSpace does require that authors order a physical copy first, which they call a proof, and have it in their hands before they sign off and allow it to be live. Printing and shipping the proof cost 6 bucks. I also opted (optionally) to upgrade to the ProPlan for $39. That allows authors to get a better price on their own books as well as make a better royalty on any sales. However, I immediately ordered 15 copies for myself to give to reviewers and received them all delivered for just 46 bucks which is basically 3 bucks apiece. Nice.
Reminds me of the days I published with Authorhouse and literally spent thousands of dollars on editing and marketing bells and whistles, plus I had to pay about $9 for each book I ordered before shipping. What a waste of money that was. Never, never again.
The only complaint I’ve heard in the CreateSpace forums over product quality is occasionally large orders will have some scratches or flaws in the cover. Not to worry because I also hear CreateSpace will honor any rejects with replacement copies. So far my experience has been entirely positive with the minor exceptions of learning the ins and outs of interior book formatting and cover design. Since it’s a total do-it-yourself experience that’s what makes it free. Their forum help is really valuable and got me past my minor issues.
If you want to sell ebooks and if you want some physical copies on hand, then please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All for FREE to get some tips on doing this without breaking your piggy bank.