IngramSpark vs CreateSpace

Thursday, December 21, 2017

This past year, I have traveled almost 70,000 miles all over the country talking to authors and publishers about getting their books published with IngramSpark. No matter the type of conference, the question I’m most often asked is “What’s the difference between IngramSpark vs CreateSpace?” Both IngramSpark and CreateSpace are DIY, print on demand, indie publishing platforms, so what makes them different?

Print on Demand (POD)

Since it launched some 20 years ago, Ingram has continued to improve and expand its POD business by offering the widest choice of trim sizes, many in both hardcover and paperback bindings. Additionally, publishers have several different color options that virtually mirror traditional printing. CreateSpace options are more limited as they're missing hardcover and offering only one version of color available. So what do you do if you want your beautiful book cover design on a jacket to complete the look? That’s where IngramSpark comes in. IngramSpark can print both case laminate or paper-over-board hardcovers as well as jacketed hardcovers with a cloth exterior on the book. This means that your children’s book can have a glossy hardcover or your new literary fiction novel can have a professional jacket. Hardcovers are not only practical for appearances but libraries prefer to buy hardcovers because of their durability. If you are targeting the library market, having your book in hardcover makes life easier for your local librarian.

Print Books and Ebooks Together—A One-Stop Solution

In IngramSpark, not only can you set up your hardcover and paperback versions of your book but you can also set up your ebook at the same time and gain book distribution, including Kindle and Apple along with some 60 other ebook retailers. With CreateSpace, you can make your ebook available directly in Kindle but to no other e-retailers. Through IngramSpark, your print book receives distribution to over 39,000 retailers, including Amazon. So, if you’re looking for a one-stop solution for printing and distribution for both your print books and ebooks, IngramSpark may be the better choice for you.

Discounts and Returnability

When you sell your book, there are three things physical bookstores look for:

  • a list price
  • a wholesale discount
  • and a returns status

When bookstores and libraries buy your book, they purchase it at a discounted or wholesale price because they need to make a profit. Therefore, you need to offer a wholesale discount off the list price that you set. In IngramSpark, you can choose a discount between 30% and 55% on the print version. We recommend a discount of at least 53% if you truly want to entice booksellers to order your book. In CreateSpace, you don’t get this flexibility since a 40% discount is applied to Amazon orders and 60% to all orders in its Expanded Distribution program (which includes Ingram). At IngramSpark, you are also allowed to choose if the book is returnable or not. Having a book be returnable is very important to booksellers because it allows them to stock more books and circulate inventory. At CreateSpace, all books are sold with a non-returnable status.

So what does all this mean? It just means that with IngramSpark, you have the flexibility to set terms that are more attractive to booksellers. It also means that you have the potential to make more per book sale with IngramSpark.

Worldwide Distribution

“I had fans in Germany and didn’t even know it!” Yes, that’s a real quote that I hear often, just substitute the country. Authors and publishers are often shocked to find out that their titles have global viability. Readers are not just in the United States. China and India are massive book markets. India, specifically, has a huge English literature reading population. So why limit your sales prospects to just the United States? IngramSpark has print facilities in the UK and Australia in addition to distributing to Canada from the United States. Ingram has also established relationships with print partners in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, India, China, Brazil and South Korea. This is what we call our Global Connect program. These relationships help IngramSpark publishers get their books into the wholesale channels in those countries. Amazon has distribution in the United States and to their European channels. So, the main difference between the two platforms here is that IngramSpark has much broader global distribution.

Using IngramSpark and CreateSpace Together

I would also be remiss if I did not note that you can use both IngramSpark and CreateSpace at the same time. This is often a strategy that we suggest to our publishers. If you own your ISBN, you can set up your book in IngramSpark as well as CreateSpace. By doing this, Amazon will fulfill orders on their site through CreateSpace. IngramSpark will fulfill orders to places such as Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and libraries. This is a really great option because you could have favorable in-stock availability messaging on Amazon, which is important for sales.

If your book is already in CreateSpace's Expanded Distribution and you would like to use IngramSpark, don’t fret! First you need to remove your book from CreateSpace's Expanded Distribution program. Then you will need to set up an IngramSpark account, if you haven’t done so already. Last but not least, call or email our customer service team and ask them to transfer your title from Expanded Distribution to your IngramSpark account. Filling out a form is required but once that is submitted, your title will appear in your IngramSpark account in a few weeks.

So, there you have it! Some of the differences between IngramSpark and CreateSpace come down to hardcovers, discounts, returnability, and book distribution. I hope this post has helped shed some light on a frequently asked question, but what's most important to your ultimate decision is what's right for you and your book.


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Justine Bylo

Justine Bylo fulfills her passion for getting independent authors' and publishers' books into the world as IngramSpark’s Key Account Sales Manager. She’s dedicated to innovating cutting edge services to help IngramSpark authors and publishers grow their businesses and expand their flourishing platforms.