Saturday, May 24, 2014

Createspace versus IngramSpark

There are many options for distribution when publishing a book these days. Writer Abroad studied as many as she could for her book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known.

Her goals:

Because her book speaks to an international audience, she wanted as many distribution options as possible, including bookstores, since Swiss bookstores were a promising place for sales (and are proving her theory correct, since the book sold 48 copies in less than a week at a bookshop in Zurich).

So here is what she did (the super short version):

First off, she consulted knowledgeable friends who had already published several books. Next, she bought her own ISBNs.  This is important if you want distribution in bookstores.  Your ISBN is your book’s identifying number. Bookstores will look it up. And it makes sense to own it, even if the price isn’t free. She bought her ISBNs from Bowker.

Then, she hired professionals to design the covers and interiors and format the book correctly for each platform.


She uploaded her title to createspace.

She uploaded her title with IngramSpark.

She uploaded her title to kdp amazon (Kindle)

And she uploaded her title to Smashwords.

Here are the pros and cons of each channel, at least from her experience having published a book approximately 14 days ago and having sold over 100 in two weeks.

Createspace (for paperback books)

User friendly and easy-to-use website
No upload, change, or title fees
Fast, round-the-clock customer service response
Very fast shipping (even overseas)
Makes title available directly on with the best royalties for amazon.

Printing is not as polished and professional as IngramSpark
If you only use createspace (and not IngramSpark too) your book will most likely never be ordered by bookstores since bookstores consider amazon their enemy
You are limited to certain trim sizes if you want expanded distribution (not to worry about if you use IngramSpark for your expanded distribution instead)
If you choose a customizable trim size, the print quality is hit or miss


Many trim sizes and printing options
Global distribution puts you on the same playing field as large publishers
Your title can be ordered by bookstores worldwide
Beautiful, professional printing

Site is not as user friendly as createspace
There are title fees, catalog listing fees, and change fees ( in other words, typos get expensive!)
Customer service is only available from 8-5 p.m. Central U.S. Time (not so good if you are based internationally).
Book is processed much slower than createspace
Book is delivered much slower (even when not shipped overseas, books arrived much slower than books from createspace)

Kdp amazon (Kindle)

Easy user interface
Quick and free upload and book is available within 12 hours
70% royalties depending on price

None so far, unless you call being able to see your sales in real time addicting!


Easy-to-use interface
Quick upload and approval times
Distribution to all major e-book retailers
Swiss Life is in bookstores
(well, at least one bookstore, anyway.)

Royalties not as high as amazon
Most e-book sales are on amazon anyway
Requires different formatting than amazon

Finally, after enduring the crazy process that is called publishing, Writer Abroad sat down, relaxed, and had some cheese and chocolate. Her book is about Switzerland, after all. And look, there it is in the Swiss bookstore. Not bad product placement for a book with no marketing budget, oder?

Anyone else have similar experiences with these distribution channels? Or what is your book publishing experience?


  1. Great post! And congratulations on the book. Looking forward to reading it.

    CreateSpace does offer expanded distribution, placing your pbook with wholesalers like Ingram and B&T.

    Bookstores who get requests for your book will order from wholesale, even if it is printed by CreateSpace. They won't even know it's the case if the publisher name in your metadata is not CreateSpace.

    Very interested to know some specifics about the difference between CreateSpace and IngramSpark print quality. I believe both use digital presses (POD).

  2. Thanks, Kathy.

    Yes, CS does have expanded distribution, but it is limited to books with certain trim sizes so IngramSpark offers more flexibility there.

    Print quality is much better with IngramSpark. They both use POD, but there is a huge difference in the quality and consistency between the two.

  3. Since each printer/publisher have their pros and cons I think it is smart to use all platforms in self-publishing your book or authors should weight which of these cons they can live with or which options that these printers offer they think would be more advantageous to them. As for the book formatting part, CreateSpace guidelines are easy to follow.

  4. Thank you Chantal! This post is super helpful.

  5. Hi, great article. Can you tell me what printing option you used for IngramSpark for your books with photos and illustrations? I am debating whether I should use Standard 70 or the Premium color option. My book has many high resolution photos but I am concerned with Premium my book will be too expensive to readers to buy. Can you provide any information?

    Thank you!

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