May 27, 2014

CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark Part 2

CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark

Print Book Distribution

Last week I did the first part of this comparison. You can view it here. This week concludes the post.

Weighing the Other Factors

Any time that you are comparing services and products, it turns out to be far more complex than you thought it was going to be. This was no different. Comparing print distributors involves a lot of options; it’s not simply looking at price and quality. This is where the “ease of use” comes in.

Ease of Use

Whether you categorize this as ease of use or difficulty of setup, doesn’t matter. It’s like asking if the glass is half full or half empty. No matter which term you use, CS comes out on top.

  • CS is easy. You can upload your file, and—if you are prepared—you can finish in less than an hour. They even offer an expert option to save time if you know what you’re doing.
  • Spark is not as easy. Ingram was designed for professionals and the process reflects that. It’s not difficult once you get to know the system, but the learning curve is steeper.

I have heard a lot of complaints about the difficulty of working with Ingram. I’ll be the frist to admit it isn’t as easy as CS, but I also have to be honest and say, it really isn’t that difficult. If you are prepared (like you should be with CS or Ingram) and you have the files and information you need in front of you, it takes very little time or effort to do it right. In fact, it takes me about the same amount of time to upload a book to Ingram as it does with CS, although I’ve been through this before.

Customer Service

CreateSpace really shines here. They have an online chat system that is second to none. If you need to speak to a representative, enter your phone number and hit the “call me now” button and your phone will ring within seconds. (No kidding—seconds!) Spark is working hard on improvement, and I have to give them credit for that. In recent months, I have seen one of their top management team join discussion groups to answer questions and provide advice. That shows their head is in the right place. In fact, while writing this post, I received news that Ingram Spark now has an 800 number for customers. A huge step in the right direction.


When I mention changes what I really mean is the costs associated with making changes, and, once again, CreateSpace wins this hands down. If you make an error—and many indie authors do—you simply upload a new file. No charge. With Spark, if you make an error, you upload a new file, but you will have to pay $25. This is not an insignificant item or one to be overlooked. Everyone makes mistakes, especially indie authors, and if you have to upload a new file to fix them, it will cost you with Spark.

Cost per copy

As you can see the cost per copy is very close on B&W—within 35c, but the cost for color shows a tremendous difference—about $13 for a 300-page book. This one isn’t even a contest. If you need a color book, especially if it has more than a few dozen pages, you should definitely use Spark.


CreateSpace will provide you with one of their own ISBNs free of charge. The problem with that is they will be listed as the publisher of record. I’d advise against that and I will cover that in a future post. However, they also have a few new options—$10 and $99 choices—which give you the option of naming your own imprint. I’m not fond of doing it this way, but again, it’s a topic to be discussed later. Spark requires you to have your own ISBN. (You can purchase them directly from Bowker in the US, or from Nielsen in the UK.)

Hardcover books

CreateSpace does not offer hardcover. Spark does. (I believe you can ask CS to print personal copies in HC, but not for distribution.)


CreateSpace does not allow returns. Spark does. What this means, is if you plan on trying to get into the brick-and-mortar stores, you’ll need to use Ingram.

Time To Publish

This is another area where I’ve seen a lot of authors and bloggers talk about how quickly CS gets their book to market, but Ingram is so much slower. It’s yet another case of not comparing apples to apples. Yes, CS can, and will, get your book published on Amazon quicker than Ingram can get it published anywhere. But there is that little point of CS being owned by Amazon. I think that helps. On the other hand, CS won’t get you into B&N, or BAM, or anywhere else faster than Ingram. In fact, CS uses Ingram for distribution.


This is the one close to my heart. People value things differently, but to me, quality is the most important aspect. In this area, Ingram shines.

  • The print is a rich, crisp black.
  • The cream paper doesn’t look as if had been left out in the sun.
  • The white paper is bright and clean.
  • The covers are true to the colors you submit, and their covers fit perfectly.

With CS I have experienced a number of problems with covers, but the biggest complaints have been with the ink. It almost always appears faded, and I haven’t been happy with their cream paper.

Summary of Pros and Cons

CreateSpace has the edge on:

  • Price per unit, B&W.
  • Ease of use
  • Customer service
  • Changes
  • ISBNs (if you want to use them)
  • Setup costs and yearly fees
  • Domestic shipping

Ingram Spark Has the Edge On:

  • Price per unit, Color.
  • Discounts
  • Distribution
  • Hardcover
  • Quality
  • Returns
  • International shipping

Bottom Line

I have seen a lot of companies rush in to take advantage of authors during this surge in self-publishing. Most of them are easy to spot if you dig deep enough, but some aren’t. The difficult part, being an author, is in being able to spend the time to validate a company and see if what they’re selling is, in fact, a good deal. Sometimes even a good company offers services that aren’t the best.

CS is a top choice for fulfilling an author’s print needs, but I suggest a word of caution about some of their other offerings. From what I’ve seen, you can do far better shopping elsewhere for things like cover services and/or marketing help. Which brings us to one of my favorite points to make. Look at intent. Any time that you are evaluating a vendor or a service company, look at what their intent is. In the case of CS, they offer a lot for free or at a very reasonable price, but is it so they can “upsell” you to other services?

On the other hand, Ingram has no hidden agendas. They offer print services. They don’t charge a commission; they don’t offer cover design, or marketing, or layout, or ISBNs, or anything else. Ingram makes money when you sell a lot of books. That is their motivation—to sign up customers who will sell a lot of books. In other words, they want the same thing I do.

You might think it’s great that CS offers to sell you an ISBN for $99 that you can put your own imprint on. But step back a minute and think. If you spend another $196 you can have 10 of them. And let’s not forget that CS is not doing this out of the goodness of their heart; they make $98 per ISBN at that price. Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. They buy them for a maximum of $1 apiece. (Actually less)

So What Do I Do?

Long ago I stopped looking at any company or service as good or bad. I look at them with one thing in mind—how can they help me achieve my goals? So instead of saying:

  • CS doesn’t have the best quality.
  • Ingram’s customer service isn’t as good.
  • CS has terrible shipping to AU.
  • Ingram’s distribution and discounts are better.

Instead of saying that, I do the opposite. I use the best from each company. And it works magnificently. Here’s how I do it.

I use CS for Amazon only, as far as distribution goes. That means I do not sign up for expanded distribution when I create a new book.

I use CS for US shipping to readers who order from my website, or for giveaways, or to send review books to bloggers, etc. They really shine in this department. It’s inexpensive and it’s quick.

I use Ingram for all other distribution. That means every book that goes to B&N, or BAM, or Charter Books, or to Libraries, or if they get ordered by bookstores…those books come from Ingram. If I send books to independent bookstores in an effort to get in with them, I use Ingram also. I do this for two reasons: Quality is better; and I don’t want the bookstore to see it came from CS.

I also use Ingram if I have to ship to AU, or UK, or anywhere in the world, except the US. And I use Ingram for an initial order to myself to keep for autographed books. Purchasing through Spark not only refunds your sign-up fee, it gives you an inventory of high-quality books to autograph. After all, the people who ask for autographed books are most likely your best customers. Give them your best material.

By the way, if you want to see a comparison on ebook distribution, I did one here a few months ago. Take a look.

Here is a short infographic that sums up most of what was discussed here.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. And he also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series. He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”

If you enjoyed this post, please share.


If you want to download the pdf of the Infographic, click the button below.
CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark — Download pdf

74 Responses to “CreateSpace VS Ingram Spark Part 2”

  1. Another great post, Jim. I am working my way through Ingram right now and can confirm what you’ve said here. My question is this: If I use CS for Amazon only, how do I keep Spark from doing Amazon?

  2. Carol: You won’t have a problem with that. Because of the discounts, Amazon will buy from CS all the time (as they own them).

  3. Jim – I’m sharing this and your other post with writers at my FB page, but also where I’m teaching next week–at a library in Florida. Wow! You do a great job at explaining both of these options. Thanks!

    (I will give you credit, of course.)


  4. Thanks, Michelle. Feel free to email me anytime with questions.

  5. This is excellent. Thanks for sharing your experience with both CS and IS. I’ve been researching print options for weeks and this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. One question, if you don’t mind – how tricky is it to get a .pdf converted from a word doc accepted by Ingram Spark? Their file creation guide recommends a .pdf export from InDesign, which I’ve never used before (I’m willing to learn, it just sounds daunting!).

  6. Ryan: I’m glad you found it helpful. As to the conversion, InDesign is the best way to go, and it’s the program most professionals use. I have a third party service do all of my conversions, as I have a lot of preferences for how I want my books to appear, such as graphic images on chapter headings, drop caps, different fonts, etc. I don’t know how difficult InDesign is to use, but ask around.

  7. Thanks for the response. I suppose it’s worth sinking my teeth into InDesign for a while, as one of the main points of going with IS is the higher quality end result.

  8. Yes, they do a great job.

  9. Thanks for this great info! I am just preparing my first art book, I am from Australia, and you have basically told me everything I need to know in terms of choosing a POD printer.
    Thanks again, Norv.

  10. Glad you found it useful. And good luck with the book.

  11. Just the information I needed! Almost a year ago I did this same research, CS vs. Spark, to estimate a monetary goal for my Kickstarter campaign. Spark was fairly new at the time and seemed to be on wobbly legs, like a newborn filly. I’m glad to hear they’re progressing quickly and it’s smart of them to do so. The market is ripe, I’m sure!
    For this moment in my writing career (about to publish my debut within the month) quality is my focus, above everything else. And so the choice is easy.
    If the time comes when I’m more experienced about these sort of things, and my needs shift, perhaps I’ll test other waters.
    Thanks for the info!

  12. Glad you found it useful, David. Ingram is continually improving, and they are listening to authors’ complaints. They have just made a few more changes in the past two weeks and the word I have is that more is coming. Good luck on your launch.

  13. Excellent couple of articles. Thanks very much.
    I’m in the process of publishing a 180 page colour book, and am looking at Ingram as the price set by CreateSpace is ludicrous.

    I am wondering if you have any opinion about using Ingram to distribute an ebook as well. My book is available on Amazon as of last night, but I’m wondering whether to let Ingram take care of ebook distribution, or deal with each platform independently. I am worried about the different formats and file types for the different publishers. It would seem that it would be better to take control of the formatting for each platform separately, but I could be wrong!

  14. Alan, glad you found the articles helpful. I wouldn’t recommend Spark for ebook distribution. I would suggest going direct with at least Amazon, and B&N and Apple and Kobo if you’re up to it. If not, I would recommend going with Smashwords and/or Draft2Digital as primary distributors. You can also use Bookbaby’s free option to take advantage of all channels.

  15. That’s what I figured. Thanks very much for your advice. I have already done Amazon for the eBook, so I’ll do the other eBook platforms separately.

  16. Asking the obvious: Does CS/Amazon blackball Ingram if you’re publishing through them? I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about Amazon posting “Not in Stock” to books printed by competitors like Ingram.

  17. They don’t blackball the books, but they sometimes list them as out of stock, or available in one to two days. The way around that, and the optimum way is to use CS for Amazon, and Ingram for all else, as I outlined in part two. It also saves you money.

  18. Great, useful site.

    Question: I’m about to submit to CS and IS. My target market is mainly UK. Would I create a problem for myself if I selected, Amazon Europe and Amazon UK on the CS submission, but NOT select ED, … and still submit to IS ? Or, should I stay away from CS’s Europe and UK options?

    Many thanks.

    Allan Torrey

  19. Allan: no problem selecting Amazon in UK or Europe. Just don’t opt into the expanded distribution. You can then go with Ingram also.

  20. If I understand correctly, you have your books simultaneously available through CreateSpace AND Ingram? Do they have the same ISBN numbers?

  21. Hi, Patti. Yes, I have all of my books listed with both. I use my own ISBNs (purchased through Bowker) but you could also use the ones tagged “universal” from CS, or one you bought from Ingram. If you go this route, make sure you DO NOT enter into expanded distribution from CS, as they use Ingram for distribution and it will show up as a duplicate file/ISBN. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

  22. Hi Giacomo, I took your advice (after learning the hard way!) to use CS for Amazon only for my novel, and IS for all other distribution. Yesterday I got my first POD Wholesale Compensation report. For 46 books sold I made $54.28 or $1.18 per book. I was appalled and confused because I thought that the royalties with IS were very similar to what I’d make with CS (which is $3.43). As you say, its not apples to apples because CS is basically selling it without a “middle man” and no “discount” is given, as IS gives to the retailer (which I have chosen to be 55% b/c I want it to be available in brick&mortars). But I also looked at your chart above “Profits Based on Channels of Distribution” where it says “profits sold anywhere else in the world” with IS is $4.20 on a $15.00 book (mine is $14.95 so basically the same). So what am I missing here? Sorry for being so dense. Am I doing something wrong with my setup?
    On another note, could you explain how one can get into libraries? My ISBN is 9780692239001 and I don’t know if I’m in Baker & Taylor but if I am, do I need to contact libraries personally?
    thanks for your sage advice, as always!

  23. Hi, Eva: It looks like the difference in earnings is 15% of list price, which means you are offering a 55% discount at Ingram. The important thing to remember is if you were selling these books through CS (anywhere but Amazon) you would only be earning $.43, because CS only offers a 60% option for expanded distribution.

    If you know where your sales are coming from–in other words if the sales are from online places like B&N or BAM, you can drop the discount at Ingram to 40%. But if they are from bookstores, you need to stay with 55%.

    As to libraries, you are accessible through Ingram, but that doesn’t mean they know about you. Have people you know, or fans, request your book from their local libraries. Then they will stock them.

  24. Hi Giacomo, Thanks for the informative post. I wonder if I might query your views on using Blurb for a publishing a print-on-demand novel. I appreciate that they focus mostly on photography books, but they also seem to be willing and anxious to publish 6×9 trade books too. Their BookWright software seems excellent. Any thoughts? — Thanks, Joan

  25. Hi, Joan. I haven’t looked into Blurb deep enough to recommend or not recommend. From what I did see so far, they seem to do an excellent job, especially with tougher projects filled with pictures/images, but for a standard 6 x 9 book, I believe their costs are high compared to Ingram or CreateSpace.

  26. Not to be repetitive… deciding between CS and IS. Quality is important. Since you use CS for Amazon sales, do you have an opinion of the quality? How do you test it since you don’t see the actual book that is being shipped?
    Also, does Amazon have to “want” your book from IS or can it automatically be offered as if I added it through Amazon Advantage (as I have done in the past)?

  27. Stacy: Both CS and Ingram have good quality. I prefer Ingram, but only slightly. As to testing it, that is easy. You order a proof of the book from each company before finalizing it. If the proof doesn’t meet your standards, you have time to fix it. As to Amazon, if you publish with CS, Amazon will show it live within hours after hitting the publish button. If you use Ingram, and not CS, it will take a few days. Either way it will show up on Amazon. I use CS for Amazon, and Ingram for all else.

  28. A well produced comparison that will help many authors. Well done.

  29. Thanks, Stuart. I’m glad you found it useful.

  30. Thank you. This was just the kind of information I was looking for! Very helpful. Keep up the great blogging.

  31. Glad you found it useful, Cathey. Feel free to email me if you have questions.

  32. Hi there. Thanks for all the great information. Do you have advice regarding what to do for a children’s picture book? We are not impressed with the quality of the CS prints we have seen so far. I considered your idea of staying with Amazon only with CS, but don’t want bad copies representing us.

  33. Hi, Ginny. Have you tried using Ingram? I haven’t run any picture books, but their quality is far better on a normal book, so I’m guessing it will be better here also. If you use Ingram for Amazon, you can expect that Amazon “Might” list your book as “not in stock, and might require one or two days to ship.” Or some similar notation on your listing. If you look at my first book, Murder Takes Time, on Amazon, you’ll see what I mean. If the quality is better though, it’s well worth it. You can also check out Blurb, but I think they’ll be far more expensive.

  34. Many thanks for this very helpful summary of the pros and cons! I’ll probably do what you’ve done–use both CS and Spark. But I have one question: you mention sending quality books to certain individuals through Ingram. I was under the impression that they would only ship to retailers. Was I misinformed?

  35. Hi, Michelle. You can ship anywhere with Ingram. In fact, I use them for inexpensive shipping to winners of Goodreads giveaways that are outside of the US. So if I have to ship to the UK, or CA or AU, I use Ingram to ship. They charge a 1.50 per order handling fee, but it’s worth it. I also use Ingram if I am sending a sample to a bookstore, and I use them to ship myself copies that I’ll use for autographs. I do this because their quality is better (IMO).

  36. Hello, Thank you for the post it was very helpful! I do have a question though, I’ve used CS and used the free ISBN, now I’m selling more books and have a new title coming out, I was thinking of going to Spark. What do I do about the ISBN? I will need to buy one for Spark but do I change it on CS, can I? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Rachel

  37. Rachel: you will need a new ISBN. Spark sells them and they are universal, and, of course you could also buy one or a pack of 10 from Bowker. You can’t go back and change it on CS. This isn’t the ideal situation, but it’s not horrible.

  38. Hi Giacomo,

    Great post. Has really set me up for a clear run at publishing my first book. I have mostly figured out how I’m going to handle this but I have one question you might be able to help me with:
    I’m looking to do pre-orders of the book, and also have copies available at the launch party. Ebook pre-orders are easy enough now with KDP and Ibooks etc. but in terms of print pre-orders and having copies available at launch, which is the day before official release, what do you think is best? I was considering this plan of attack: (I’m in Australia, so I’m not sure if CS will get me my copies on time)
    – Upload project to Ingram and order 200 copies.
    – Take orders through social media, website etc, and fulfill the orders in the week prior to the release, or on the day …
    – Not advertising the link to the book anywhere, or making the title unavailable, so that it can’t be found leading up to release.
    — Where I’m a little concerned is that if I upload the project and go through Ingram, the book will show on Amazon, and many other places, and as it won’t be advertised, will have little to no official sales in this time. The publication date, won’t be when I’m making it available publicly, but rather, a date a month ahead of time.

    How do you handle pre-orders? Any tips for avoiding poor sales rank etc. while still getting copies in your hand prior to release?

  39. I’m glad the post helped. As to a few of your questions: Do you really want to order 200 copies? Just asking because that’s a lot of print books to have on hand if they don’t sell. As to your concerns about the sales rank if you publish before your launch…I have found that unless you go out of your way to draw attention to it, people won’t know it’s there, and I wouldn’t worry about the poor sales ranking (if it were me.) As to shipping to AU…CS will charge you a fortune and take forever. Use Ingram for AU, as they have printing facilities in AU and shipping is both reasonably priced and efficient.

  40. Thanks for answering my question, so if I buy a new isbn do I need new covers, changed content? Or can the book stay the same with a new isbn. Thanks for your help, much appreciated Rachel

  41. Rachel: No, you don’t need new covers or changed content. The only real issue is a minor one–that your book might show up in different searches with different ISBNs. It’s nicer to have just one ISBN assigned per format (one for paperback, one for hardback, one for ebook, one for audio, etc.) but having two for your print won’t hurt. Good luck.

  42. Thanks for the prompt answer, Giacomo. True professional and helpful author. I’ll need about 200 to fulfill pre-orders myself, and then for the launch and further promotion. Okay, cool. I think I’m pretty set in terms of uploading but then not advertising … Do you have any idea how long a shipment of author copies might take (even if I do only 100)??
    I’m hoping it wouldn’t take longer than 3 weeks from placing the order to get to my place … Does this sound reasonable?

  43. Do you know if Ingram allows you to do preorders? How much time should I give them to publish the book? Can I start the process and not upload the files for a bit?

  44. Angela, Ingram has an option to print the book for a proof or a one-off copy, and not publish it. But there isn’t much to prepare in the process without uploading the files. Publishing the book doesn’t take long, but it might take a few days to approve the files after you upload.

  45. TC: Shipping for 200 books should cost you about $80-90 dollars. Ingram might take as long as 4-5 days to print and ship the order, although they do offer an express service that guarantees fulfilling the order the next day. Since they print in AU, I can’t imagine taking longer than 3 weeks, but as always, play it safe and give yourself time. Good luck.

  46. Thank you so much for this post! This is pretty much what I had concluded, but this really helps. Now if someone would just do something about how much the stupid ISBNs cost. It really doesn’t make any sense.

    P.S. Your infographic is perfect for pinning on Pinterest! But I didn’t notice a pin it button.

  47. Thanks, ES> Glad you enjoyed the article. I agree about the ISBNs also.

  48. Hi Giacomo-
    I am back for a second round of advice, and Thank You Very Much!! in advance. I am very grateful for your tips on how to clean up the mess I naively made for myself by being hornswoggled at KDP. Now I am out of KDP Select, my ebook is published for distribution to many additional channels on Smashwords, and it is time to get my ISBN issues sorted and proceed with print publishing at Ingram Spark per your advice in the two posts on this topic.

    Here are my remaining questions:

    1) I initially published using a $10 CreateSpace “Custom ISBN”, which lists these limitations:
    Custom ISBN*
    • You choose your book’s imprint of record. If you select or Amazon’s European websites as distribution channels, this imprint will be reflected on your book’s detail page.
    • You can sell your book through, Amazon’s European websites, a CreateSpace eStore, and some† Expanded Distribution channels.
    • This ISBN can only be used with the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
    • Your book’s ISBN information will be registered with®

    I’ve opted out of CreateSpace Expanded Distribution. What effect does this existing CreateSpace ISBN have going forward?

    2) Do I now buy real ISBNs from Bowker, go thru the publishing process with Ingram Spark, supply a real ISBN and just opt in to all of Spark’s channels except Amazon?

    3) Is there anything that CreateSpace/Amazon can do to me for going this route?

    Grazie Mille, Giacomo

  49. Nancy: You’re doing it right. Opt out of CS expanded distribution. Get a new ISBN and use that with Ingram. The only problem you’ll have is that your book might show up in duplicate if it had already been in distribution through CS’s expanded services. That’s not a big problem though.

    Also, there is no opting “out” of Amazon on Ingram, that option only applies to the ebook distribution, which at this time I DO NOT recommend, as you have much better terms at Smashwords.

    As to the last question, you are breaking no rules or terms of service with Amazon, so no, there is nothing they can do to you. Good luck with the book.

  50. I can’t thank you enough!
    Che un maestro, e che il servizio che fate. Bravo!! Grazie mille!!

  51. Hi another great post!

    Question – I want to print a 6×8 book.
    Will I be able to do with IS or will I be forced to stick with their traditional 6×9 size?

  52. They don’t have a 6×8 option. Here are the sizes they offer.

    go to this link and look under “trim size” I believe 5.5 x 8.5 is the closest option.

  53. Hi Giacomo-
    Could you explain what the “Tax Exemption Setup: on Ingram Spark is for? How important is that?

    Also, is it necessary to buy a bar code from Bowker ($25)? Their title meta data page seems kind of like it is going to make you do that. I am confused, because Ingram Spark seems to offer to generate a cover template for free which includes a bar code built from your ISBN and price info.

  54. Nancy, the tax exemption setup is simply you telling Ingram that they do not need to withhold taxes on you. Assuming you are your own company, you don’t want them taking out taxes.

    And no, you do not need to buy a barcode from Bowker. Ingram provides them free.

  55. Hi Giacomo
    I have published on CS but want to change to Ingram Spark. Will Ingram Spark distribute my book through Amazon (US & worldwide) as I no longer wish to go through CS?
    I currently have free CS barcode so will I have to buy new barcode (as I’ve just seen on your blog you said Ingram provides them free)?

  56. Hi, Yuen. Yes, Spark will distribute to Amazon. I always suggest using both CreateSpace and Spark but you can use Spark by itself. And yes, they supply the barcode free. Make sure when you upload to Spark that you have everything the way you want it. If you change files or covers, etc. you will be charged.

  57. Hi, Giacomo,
    Thanks for this great post, which is a model of clarity.
    I am currently in a real muddle over the following problem: I teach a writing class, and want to show them how easy it is to get published. However, most of the writers are not very technically-inclined. I have been researching ways for them to be able to do this. The basic use of Word (with appropriate use of Headings One, Two and Body Text) works so much better than when I first started publishing in 2011. However, I started looking at other options. I use Scrivener, which is marvellous, but still a fairly steep learning curve. Subsequently I have found everything from Bookwright to Vellum (Looks great but can’t do print), BookTango to Pressbooks. The only problem I have now is this severe headache as I try to compare all these various methods… I’m about to start on a journey through using each of them (that I can afford) to make one of my books, so that I can see how they operate. Wish me luck….

  58. Hi Giacomo,

    I tried shooting you this email about a week ago but I’m not sure it went through so I’ll comment here. I wanted to thank you for this post – it cleared up so much for me and answered my question about how to handle my books currently in CS printing that I also want to place in brick and mortars with a return option. I have a few questions that I wanted to ask you (that I didn’t find the answer to on IS’s website or in the comments above):

    1.) I read through the comments and noticed that you told a reader that there isn’t an option to “opt out” of Amazon distribution for the printed avenue of IS. How do you manage to use CS for Amazon and IS for all other avenues, then? Does IS not bother to release your book on Amazon since it’s already there? Or does Amazon notice a duplicate of the book and prevent it from being distributed on their site? I guess I’m just concerned about having two product pages floating around for the same book (especially since I’ll have to order a separate ISBN for the IS versions).

    2.) With regards to duplicate ISBNs (CS generated and Bowker purchased), are the duplicates limited to the Ingram catalogue or does it show up more egregiously on B&N’s website or something like that? When you purchased your ISBNs, did you do it directly from Bowker or through Ingram (they said they have a discount via IS)?

    3.) You also stated that IS’s platform is more difficult to navigate than CS. I looked through their rather rigid requirements for the cover and interior – are there any minefields you would warn first time users of to avoid that $25 re-do? I’m planning on having my cover designer and interior formatter deal with the formatting beast but would love any insight.

    4.) Lastly, do you have any blog posts I can refer to on pitching to brick and mortar stores? I’m relieved that the distribution confusion might get cleared up soon but I know there’s a great deal of pitching that has to go into a bookstore actually purchasing from the catalogue. I would appreciate any insight you have to offer.

    Sorry for all the questions! (Especially if you answered them and I didn’t catch them!) I do hope to hear from you. Thank you so much for your time.


  59. […] should use both CreateSpace and IngramSpark, read this feature by Giacomo Giammatteo: Part 1 | Part 2 (Note: A condensed version of this can be found on the Alliance of Independent Authors […]

  60. Great review, thanks! However, for orders CS is neither inexpensive nor quick. It’s rather expensive and very slow (102 pages in color $8 per book, shipping 2-3 Weeks and for 20 books it’s 39,99$ shipping from and to US). My question, how is that for IS? If I have an order for 20 books in US (102 pages color), would it be faster and cheaper with IS than with CS?

  61. In your example, you list CS as $21.85 for color, and IS as $8.40. I went to the CS member dashboard, and their prices for color aren’t anything like you’re quoting here. Is it possible your pricing info is outdated, and that CS has changed?

  62. Lorelei: I don’t know where you looked, but I just went back to CreateSpace’s website and ran the numbers again. They were the same–21.85. This is using CreateSpace’s own calculator. I checked interior as color, size as 6×9, and number of pages as 300.

  63. Hi Giacomo: Your information about the differences between CS & IS is so….helpful! Thank you for taking the time to help us determine what is best for us.
    This has been so difficult for me trying to understand all the jargon. It took me 2 1/2 years to write my autobiography and now I’m faced with so much information to decipher. How do I protect yourself?
    If I had known the editing, publishing,marketing process was this confusing I would not have written my manuscript. However, since I started, I must finish.
    Thank you again from the bottom of my heart! 🙂

  64. Feel free to email any questions to me, and also check out my other site–


  65. Just wondering — it’s been 3 years since you wrote this post how are things different in 2017?

  66. Thanks for asking, Karl. A lot has changed. In fact, I’m preparing a book on the subject that brings things up to date. If you would be interested in being a beta reader let me know.

  67. Good evening Giacomo! I would first like to say thank you for graciously giving your time to answer our questions, it is well appreciated. I am currently in the works of completing a children’s activity book. Is there a publishing company you would highly recommend for this particular style of book or (being that I prefer my book to be a hardcovered book) do you feel Ingram would be a good fit? Thank you again for your time Giacomo.



  68. Since you want hardcover, IngramSpark is the only logical choice for Print on Demand, as CreateSpace does not do hardcovers. IngramSpark also offers more trim sizes and better color if that is a concern. Feel free to write to me with questions, and if you want a discount off IngramSpark set up fees see my book Print on Demand—Who to Use to Print Your Books. it contains a discount code for half off.

  69. Hi Giacomo! A huge thank-you for sharing this information. My question is about a fee I saw on a 2017 LS print pricing list for IngramSpark. It listed a “Handling Fee”. For 1-50 units the fee is $1.99! Does that mean that for every POD order of one book, for example, the self publisher must pay $1.99? Margins are so tight and adding $1.99 to the print and sale of one hardback seems huge. I can’t find anyone talking about this cost. Is it a fee the publisher must pay for if using LS and Ingram?

    Secondly, I have a hardcover book: Interactive JOURNAL product. I do want POPD so I will therefore print with Ingram. My question is about selling on Amazon. Am I NOT n Amazon CS book vendor in this case? Am I needing to become an Amazon vendor of another TYPE, given Ingram will be supplying hardbacks as POD to Amazon? Thi spart is still very confusing. Thanks in Advance!

  70. The fee from IngramSpark is if you order directly from them. If a bookstore or an online store orders, there is no fee. So if someone orders from Barnes and Noble or Books a Million, or if someone walks into a brick-and-mortar store and orders your book, you aren’t charged. As for Amazon, they will sell your book from IngramSpark, although they may list it as ‘available in two to three days’ if they are feeling shitty.

  71. Thanks Giacomo! Wondering if they feel shitty alot?

    But given I need the ‘more’ lay flat format that a hardcover book binding for journaling offers, guess I don’t have too many other options for a POD approach.

    It seems I need the ‘Standard Color’ book in order to get the 70lb paper for the journal. Wondering if the color printing is washed out on the Standard, given they also offer a Premium Color option.

    I’m going to check out your book. 😉

  72. Maura: feel free to write me with more detail. You can reach me at:

    gg @at giacomog dot com

    Depending on your book, the standard might do, or then again, you may need the premium. I did a few children’s books and had to resort to premium. It was a lot pricier, but I felt it looked a lot better. I have seen standard that looked good though.

  73. Thanks for answering all these questions. Time consuming I’m sure. Much appreciated, Giacomo!

  74. No problem, Marua. Write to me if you need any help.

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