Is Amazon KDP Better than Merch? Or is Amazon Merch Better than KDP?

I’ve heard the debate since I first started in the print on demand industry. Shirley loves Amazon Merch while Jack swears by Amazon KDP. So which one is truly better?

Which of these two money-making platforms is worthy of your precious time? We’ve broken it down in the table below and go more in-depth on each point coming up.

Amazon KDP VS. Amazon Merch. Which is Better?
Amazon KDP Amazon Merch
Pros: Cons: Pros: Cons:
No/Low Barrier to Entry Very saturated Higher Profit Margins Approval Required to Join
Lifetime Potential Earnings Slow & Tedious Uploading Quick Uploading Process Slow to Start
Eight Marketplaces Need a Lot of Books Payout in 30 Days Limited Daily Submissions
No Upload Restrictions Race to the Bottom Multiple Payout Options Tiered System
Multiple Payout Options Tough Competition
      Copycats Everywhere
      Items Taken Down
By volume, the table above shows that Amazon KDP is the clear winner. However, not each of the items listed is made equal. Read on as we go in-depth on each of these points.

Amazon KDP Pros

No/Low Barrier to Entry

Amazon KDP accepts everyone and anyone who joins, all you need is an email to sign up.

While no screening process to start making money on KDP is a benefit it also comes with its drawbacks, a lot more people are making accounts and uploading books as well. The good news: most quit within a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

You will need to fill out tax information in order to get paid and starting multiple accounts will result in all of them getting banned, but you can have as many pen names as you’d like within one account.

Lifetime Potential Earnings

Once you upload a product to Amazon KDP it is up there for life. There is no minimum amount of sales needed to keep it listed. Upload a book once and you have the potential to make sales forever!

In other words, if you upload a book and it doesn’t sell immediately, it could still sell a year or two or even three years down the road.

Pricing form on Amazon KDP showing eight marketplaces

Eight Marketplaces

When you upload a book on the Amazon KDP platform it automatically posts your book on 8 of the Amazon marketplaces. USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, & Spain.

That’s a chance to sell your book in 8 different marketplaces. And Amazon is working to add more countries to that list.

No Upload Restrictions

There are no upload quantity restrictions with Amazon KDP! You can upload as many books as you can handle as often as you would like.

I did hear a rumor that there is a 1,000 book a week upload limit, but I have not seen it proven as 1,000 books a week is a crazy amount of books to upload. 

Shows Multiple Payment Options KDP

Screenshot of Amazon KDP’s payout methods

Multiple Payout Options

You can be paid out in three ways with Amazon KDP, Direct Deposit, Wire Transfer, or Check. There is no payout minimum for direct deposit. There is, however, a minimum payout amount for wire transfer and check.

Amazon KDP Cons

Very saturated

Because there is no barrier to entry and no upload quantity limit, people go crazy with uploading making the market incredibly saturated. If you are thinking of just making lined notebooks, it will be challenging to find an untapped niche that doesn’t already have thousands of search results. 

Uploading Manuscript on to Amazon KDP Slow!

Showing the uploading process for reviewing your manuscript in Amazon KDP

Slow & Tedious Uploading

The uploading process to Amazon KDP is a slow and tedious process. Amazon makes you click through three pages/steps. The first page being title, description, keywords, and category. On the second page, you upload your manuscript, review it and accept it, which takes at least 3-5 minutes, and lastly the pricing page.

The first and last steps aren’t too bad. However, uploading and reviewing your manuscript takes a few minutes per book, making this a lengthy process.

Tip: It’s best to open multiple tabs while uploading to Amazon KDP. That way you can start filling out the metadata for a book in tab while another tab loads a manuscript for another book for your review.

Need a Lot of Books

Since Amazon KDP is so saturated with low content books you often need to submit a handful of variations of each type of book you want to sell.

You will see plenty of people boasting about making thousands of dollars a month on KDP, this is totally doable, but they likely have thousands of books uploaded.

Unless you are able to find an untapped niche. If you can find a profitable niche that no one else has found yet you can make good money without tons and tons of books loaded.

You’re better off branching off from lined notebooks and blank journals and getting into something that requires a bit more skill therefore has less competition. Think activity books, sudoku puzzles, crossword puzzles, mazes, coloring books, planners, logbooks, etc.

Race to the Bottom

With so much competition out there it can feel like the only way to make sales is to lower prices. Making it feel a bit like it’s a race to the bottom.

But please don’t do that, make quality books with quality designs and price them accordingly. That way everyone can make more profit.

Consider this: Are you better off getting 100 sales at a $1 commission or 50 sales at a $2 commission? Do you think it’s easier to make 100 sales or 50?

Amazon Merch has higher profit margins than Amazon KDP

Amazon Merch Pros

Higher Profit Margins

The profit margins are a lot better when it comes to selling t-shirts rather than low content books. You can earn anywhere from $5-25 commission on every sale, depending on what you set your price at.

Better design = more profit.

Quick Upload

The uploading platform for Amazon Merch is so much quicker than on Amazon KDP. You upload your design, add your titles, descriptions, and keywords all on the convenience of one single page.

Pays out in 30 Days

Amazon Merch pays out at the end of every month. Whereas Amazon KDP takes 60 days for a payout to happen. This is a major bonus for when you first start making sales, but honestly, after the first month, it doesn’t make too much of a difference as you will be getting a payout each month going forward. 

Multiple Payout Options

Amazon Merch has the option to payout via direct deposit or wire transfer. There is no minimum payout for direct deposit, however there is a minimum payout for wire transfer.

Amazon Merch Cons

Approval Required to Join

Not everyone that applies to Amazon Merch gets accepted. I have known multiple people to get rejected more than once, with no real reason why. Some people keep applying and manage to get in eventually and others never get accepted.

The reasoning behind why Amazon accepts some people and rejects others is a complete mystery.

Slow to Start

It is very slow when starting out on Amazon Merch, you are limited to how many total designs you can have as well as how many designs you can upload in a day, making this a very slow business to build at the start. 

A sign saying limited

Limited Daily Submissions

There are daily limits for how many designs you can upload in a day. When you first start out it’s one a day until you get to the next tier where I believe it was three a day, until the next tier, and so on and so forth. You get the idea.

One design a day is brutally slow!

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Tiered System

Merch doesn’t just let you join and go crazy with your account. Not only do they limit how many designs you can upload in a day, but they also have a tiered system limiting how many total products you can have live at a time.

When you first start out it is 10 total products. And then 25, 100, 500, etc, etc.

In order to level up each tier, you need to make as many sales as your maximum allowed products. So in order to level up to tier 25 you need to make 10 sales. In order to level up to tier 100, you need to make 25 sales.

This isn’t an exact science and sometimes you can make your 10 or 25 or 100 sales and it can take Amazon days, weeks, or even months, to level up your account.

However, if you are making consistent sales, they aren’t likely to take long to level you up.

Amazon Merch had tough competition

Tough Competition

Because Amazon Merch is more exclusive and strict on who they let in and level up, it stands to reason that the people that are on there are quite good at what they do. They are good designers (or hire good designers) and know how to do product research and create good product descriptions, titles, tags, etc.

Amazon Merch has fierce competition and people are ruthless when it comes to being the top seller. 

Copycats Everywhere

Along with lots of great designers, there are also plenty of copycats out there. These people scour Amazon to see what’s selling well and then copy the design, sometimes pixel for pixel, and sell it at a lower price. This leaves a bit of a bad taste in the honest merchers mouth.

You can have a product that has been selling quite consistently for years, and someone comes in, copies your design, title, description, etc, and undercuts your price. All of a sudden they are getting most, if not all, of your hard-earned sales.

And Amazon doesn’t do anything to stop this.

Items Taken Down

If your products don’t sell within a certain amount of time they will be taken off the marketplace. On the one hand, this eliminates clutter and competition on the marketplace, it also means that you may have to spend time reuploading designs if they don’t sell right away.

TOO LONG DIDN'T READ

TLDR: Which One is Worth Your Time? Amazon KDP or Amazon Merch?

My honest opinion is you should do both!

Start with Amazon KDP, upload a bunch of quality designs, and see which designs sell best. Once you know which ones sell on KDP, you can transfer those designs on to Merch.

(If you don’t have a Merch account yet, be sure to apply right away, it can take a while to get accepted.)

Or if you already have a Merch account and are looking into starting KDP you can upload all of your T-shirt and PopSocket designs onto low content books to increase your income and grow another revenue stream.

Check out this step by step guide on how to create low content books to sell on KDP.

Or if you are looking to level up from lined notebooks, click here for how to create a dot grid journal for KDP.

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