Ep 07: IngramSpark vs CreateSpace

Discover the key differences between IngramSpark vs CreateSpace. Learn more after listening.

In this episode, we cover essential differences such as book formats, title setup fees, and publishing industry standards like wholesale discounts and returnable options. We also cover the option of using both IngramSpark and CreateSpace at the same time. Better understand what sets these two popular self-publishing platforms apart.


Robin Cutler [00:00:07] Hi everyone. Welcome to Go Publish Yourself, an IngramSpark Podcast. This episode is sponsored by Stress Free Book Marketing, helping authors create personalized marketing strategies to expand their reach. IngramSpark publishers get a free book-marketing analysis and a 15% discount on marketing plans. Hi, I'm Robin Cutler, the Director of IngramSpark.

Justine Bylo [00:00:33] And I'm Justine Bylo and I manage the Author Acquisitions program at IngramSpark. Hi, Robin!

Robin Cutler [00:00:40] Hey, Justine. Today, we are going to talk about the differences between IngramSpark and CreateSpace and how an author can use both. As you know, Justine, this is one of the most hotly requested topics that we get asked about at all the conferences that we go to.

Justine Bylo [00:01:03] Oh yeah.

Robin Cutler [00:01:04] Invariably, someone will stand up when I'm talking about IngramSpark and ask, "What's the difference between IngramSpark and CreateSpace?" This is a perfect time to be talking about this topic.

Justine Bylo [00:01:16] This year, actually we published, right before New Year's, a blog post that I wrote about this very topic. And it got a lot of attention and people had a ton of questions, which sparked this podcast. We're hoping to answer some peoples' questions that were still outstanding after that blog post, in this podcast. We hope to do that today.

Robin Cutler [00:01:49] And, in full disclosure, I actually used to work at CreateSpace. Now I'm the Director of IngramSpark. I have nothing but really good things to say about CreateSpace, but just today, we actually got a press release that basically said that CreateSpace was disbanding their author services part of their business. Did you read about that as well, Justine?

Justine Bylo [00:02:18] I did. It was a pretty shocking press release today. I was really surprised by it. It was really good timing for the podcast though, since we're talking about it today.

Robin Cutler [00:02:32] Yes, exactly. One of the key differentiators between IngramSpark and CreateSpace has been that they've offered author services like editing, and design, and some marketing in terms of some of the packages that they've offered in the past. With them doing away with that part of that business, there's less differentiation between us, except that IngramSpark will be able to offer an author more of an end-to-end author experience going forward. Don't you agree?

Justine Bylo [00:03:16] I totally agree with you, Robin. It's a good idea to jump into some of the things that came up on Facebook and social media about the differences. And one of the big ones was hardcover. A lot of people were buzzing about hardcover. At Spark, we offer a hardcover option and we've talked about it before in past podcasts. We've talked about how much we love the hardcover option and our love for hardcover books. CreateSpace doesn't offer hardcover, right, Robin?

Robin Cutler [00:03:58] Yeah, that's right. And my understanding is they're still going to continue to operate as a print-on-demand company in terms of printing. I don't see where they ever are going to offer hardcover. That's definitely one of the key differentiators between the two platforms. The other one that I think we need to spend probably a little bit more time talking about, is the whole thing about wholesale discounts. I know we talked about this on some other podcasts, as well, but we should really dig into this a little bit. IngramSpark does offer flexibility for an author to set up a discount anywhere between 30% and 55% off the print format of your book. You can set a range. CreateSpace doesn't offer that today. Going forward we can't really speak for CreateSpace and how they might be changing their program. But today, they basically take a 40% discount on anything that's sold to Amazon and then a 60% discount on everything else through their expanded distribution program. Is that how you understand that, Justine?

Justine Bylo [00:05:28] It is and I think I didn't explain it well enough in my blog, so let me explain it a little bit better here. This is really, really important, because if you're trying to sell to the independent bookstores, or to the libraries, this is a big deal. Because the independent bookstores have overhead costs and whatnot, they do need to buy your book at a discount and that's your wholesale discount. There's two different types of wholesale discounts. There's a full trade discount and there's a short discount. A full trade discount is between 53% and 55% of your list price. So, with IngramSpark we let you set a full trade discount and this incentivizes the independent booksellers to buy your book, because they can get that full discount that they're accustomed to getting. And they can make a profit on your book.

Robin Cutler [00:06:32] And I'll just say here, about that, Justine, just so that everyone understands, most traditional publishers do use that same discount structure that Justine was just talking about--

Justine Bylo [00:06:47] Yeah, so you can compete with them

Robin Cutler [00:06:48] At the full trade discount.

Justine Bylo [00:06:51] Exactly.

Robin Cutler [00:06:51] Exactly. And then on the short discount ...

Justine Bylo [00:06:57] Yeah, with the short discount they can't get their full discount. They're not as excited to buy the book because they're not going to make as much money per sale. Also, they'll see that the book is CreateSpace when they go to buy the book and they're essentially buying from a competitor, at not a full discount. To them, it's not as great of a deal as buying from you, as a publisher, at a full trade discount. That's how they see it.

Robin Cutler [00:07:39] The reason, at IngramSpark, we give you the flexibility to set up your discount in any way that you want to, between 30% and 55%, is because it depends on what your strategy is. Maybe just selling online is your number one strategy and not selling to bookstores, so you could set a shorter discount which would be anywhere between 30% and 52% and that will still get your book listed on a lot of these online sites that Ingram works with. That's the reason we set it up like that. The number two differentiator is IngramSpark allows you to set up a flexible discount, where CreateSpace doesn't. The other big piece along with that is returnability. Let's talk a little bit about that, Justine.

Justine Bylo [00:08:42] Yeah, all CreateSpace books are non-returnable. Again, I'll bring up the term, bookstore-friendly terms. Bookstores like returnability, in addition to having that full trade discount, because it gives them the ability to turnover stock on their shelves, essentially. You must be prepared for returns, as a publisher, if you do choose returnability as an option. But it's something that they prefer. And, with Spark, you are able to choose from three different types of returnability. We have return and destroy, return and ship, and then non-returnable. We give you that option of actually having that returnability as opposed to just non-returnable.

Robin Cutler [00:09:35] Yeah, and I say to people, if you are very uncomfortable about the whole returnable notion, definitely feel free to set your book up as non-returnable. You can try a few things. If you don't see the needle moving, you can always go back and change that status to returnable if you choose to. So, again, you still have the flexibility in IngramSpark, where you don't in CreateSpace.

Justine Bylo [00:10:08] Exactly.

Robin Cutler [00:10:09] Let's move along. Another differentiator is the cost to set up your title.

Justine Bylo [00:10:16] Yeah, this is a hot one.

Robin Cutler [00:10:20] At IngramSpark, we've always charged a setup fee. It is $49 to set up your book in both print and "e" together. And, basically, we've charged that so that we're not front loading the costs. A lot of these author services companies that you'll run across ... you know it could be they have package prices. And you'll see costs that are kind of hidden in other packages that they offer. We don't do that. Our minimum order on a book is one copy. We do charge a setup fee, just because we still have to process that file. There's a cost to us to be able to do that. But, basically, once your book is set up, it's a one-time fee and your book is available for the life of that book or as long as you choose to keep your book up in our system. The other thing to remember is that we will refund that $49, if you place an order for 50 copies within the first 60 days of setting up your book. Essentially, it's free setup.

Justine Bylo [00:11:37] Yeah, and also, we sometimes do run promotions for free setup, so always keep your eye out for a code, especially with some of our partners like with IBPA and such. But also, with CreateSpace, even though it is free for setting up, with expanded distribution they do charge a higher royalty rate for that service. You're not making as much per book per sale. You have to weigh if it's actually worth the money to do expanded distribution there, as opposed to paying the $49 to set up your book with Spark. Something to think about.

Robin Cutler [00:12:20] Yeah, a lot to think about. And as we said, it could be that CreateSpace will be changing some of their additional services. We don't know at this point. It's just something to kind of keep in mind. We know that, at IngramSpark, we're going to be adding additional services and we're not going away tomorrow that's for sure. People do ask us if it's possible to set your book up in both platforms. What do you have to say about that, Justine?

Justine Bylo [00:12:55] The answer is yes! And we encourage it. It's actually really easy to do both. And, the way that you do it is, if you have a new book and you own your ISBN. That's a big thing. Own your own ISBN. You would set your book up in regular CreateSpace and then also in IngramSpark. And you can do both. If you have an existing book that is already in CreateSpace, if it's in regular CreateSpace, you can set up a Spark account and also put it in Spark. But if it's in expanded distribution, what you would have to do is, remove that book from expanded distribution into regular CreateSpace, create a Spark account. And then give our customer service team a call and ask them to transfer the title from CreateSpace to Spark. And they can transfer that title to your Spark account. It takes a little bit of paperwork. You just have to fill out a form. But, other than that, the title should be in your account in a few weeks. And it's really quite easy. We work well with CreateSpace. We make it easy for you.

Robin Cutler [00:14:11] Yeah, and I will just echo that I believe and know that IngramSpark is the true one-stop. If you want to make your book available as widely as possible, IngramSpark provides for that. And the other thing to remember is if you have your book set up in multiple places, any time that you change your pricing, or any information about your book or any information within the book, you'll have to set that book up in all those multiple places where you originally set it up to keep everything in sync. And, a lot of authors now are saying, "We really like the one-stop service setting IngramSpark offers, so that whenever we want to make changes to our book, we only now have to go to one place."

Justine Bylo [00:15:12] Not to mention, you can set up your eBook up at the same time, as well.

Robin Cutler [00:15:18] Yeah, and I'm all about simplicity and just streamlining the whole process. And we work really hard at IngramSpark every day to do exactly that for our authors. Anything else you want to add here, Justine, before we start signing off?

Justine Bylo [00:15:37] Yeah, just a quick note about global distribution. This is another one that I mentioned in the blog post. IngramSpark has really great global distribution. If you want to get your book into many countries across the world, Spark is the place to do it. I think that was my only other one, Robin.

Robin Cutler [00:15:57] Okay.

Justine Bylo [00:15:58] I hope we covered everything and everyone's burning questions.

Robin Cutler [00:16:02] Well, it's like this will, for a while, continue to be the number one question that we get asked and we're happy to talk about it. To me, it can be an "and" instead of an "or", and Justine did a really great job of explaining how you can take advantage of both platforms--

Justine Bylo [00:16:25] Thanks, Robin.

Robin Cutler [00:16:26] --if you choose to do that. Next time, when you join us next week, we hope you come and listen to us talk about the actual cost of self-publishing, which is another thing that we get asked a lot about. We're going to chat about that in our next episode. Until then, I bid you adieu. This is Robin Cutler, and it's been great talking with you today, Justine.

Justine Bylo [00:16:54] Yeah, same Robin, and for all our listeners out there, make sure to go to ingramspark.com and also check out our blog. I'll talk to you next week, Robin.

Robin Cutler [00:17:04] Yeah, thanks everyone, bye.

Justine Bylo [00:17:07] Bye.