This morning, I closed my recently opened Etsy account.
I had thought Etsy might be a good place to make my books available for sale, and perhaps some of my photographs down the line. (I also have a few copies of Tinty Music cassettes that I had made but never got around to selling; I thought I might list these as well.)
Initially, I wasn’t sure about whether or not my self-published books would be appropriate, since I did not do the printing and binding myself (not having the capacity to operate a digital printing press and book bindery out of my one-bedroom apartment). But, after poking around on the Community forums, I found indications that they would be appropriate for listing.
So, I signed up for an Etsy account, opened my shop, and listed my two books. I noticed they had an Outside Manufacturing Application for products that are partially produced by others; wanting to do the right thing, I entered the information about how I produced my books and where I had them printed. It seemed reasonably straightforward, I thought.
That’s what I get for thinking.
Over the last few days, I have been going back and forth with one of Etsy’s ‘Maker Specialists’ about how my books are printed—apparently to ‘demonstrat[e] the connection [I] have with the people producing [my] items.’ Specifically, he wanted to know if my ‘partner’ did the printing and binding themselves, or if they worked with a third party—and where that business was located if they did; and wanted me to describe their production process.
Well—duh!—it’s on-demand digital printing, and it’s CreateSpace (i.e., Amazon). Digital printing is a pretty standard process, and I think pretty much everybody knows who/what Amazon is by now—and surely I can not have been the first person they have encountered to have produced their books using a print-on-demand service, whether it be Amazon or somebody else.
Again, it seemed pretty straightforward to me, so I provided links to CreateSpace’s About Us page, and the page where they briefly talk about how their books are produced.
Apparently, that was not enough. He wanted to know ‘a little more about how [my] books are physically produced.’
This time, I sent him a link to the Wikipedia page for Print on Demand. I did not know what else I could tell the guy. Printing is not a mysterious process. You take some paper. You run it through either a printing press, or a turnkey system built around a specialized printer and automated binding system (the Espresso Book Machine is a good example of the latter).
His next response was to lecture me on what their Handmade category is for, and that I had to ‘clearly demonstrate…that you are invested in the products you sell and knowledgeable about how they are created.’ The tone now struck me as more than a little bit condescending.
I started to reply. About halfway through, I decided that I was done—and I said so. It was simply not worth the aggravation. I deleted my listings, closed my account, and sent my reply.
He then sends me another lecture about what Etsy is, blah blah blah. In what I hope will be the final word on this, I reminded him that I had already closed my account, and thus did not need further explanation of their policies and procedures.
I have heard some folks say that Etsy can be kind of a pain to deal with. Now I know why.
(10 February 2015)