UPDATE: CreateSpace and KDP are merging, see notes below.

CreateSpace and IngramSpark are two Print-On-Demand printers often used by self-publishing authors. They both print, and distribute, your book to online retailers, such as Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. Authors often struggle with the choice on which one to use for their book. The answer for you might be both.

UPDATE: CreateSpace and KDP are both owned by Amazon. In the past, CreateSpace handled the print versions of books and KDP the eBook versions. Amazon decided to merge them together and KDP will now be handling both the print and eBook versions. The method below still applies, but you will now be using KDP and IngramSpark instead of CreateSpace and IngramSpark.

CreateSpace is owned by Amazon and IngramSpark by Ingram Book Group, which is one of the largest book wholesale distributors. Both are good choices for your book on their own, but using them both could be your best solution. (watch: CreateSpace or Ingram Spark, What is the Right Choice for Your Book?)

CreateSpace’s per book printing cost is a little lower than IngramSpark, so your cost per book is less. But the main reason to consider using both is your book’s stock status on Amazon. Many authors have reported that their book often shows up as Temporarily Out of Stock on Amazon when they use IngramSpark. While this is not always the case, it can happen. Authors that use CreateSpace have less of an issue with this. In fact, I have never had one of the authors that I work with that uses CreateSpace ever report an issue with their book’s stock status on Amazon to me.

Okay, but then why also use IngramSpark?

IngramSpark offers a better wholesale discount option for their distribution than CreateSpace. With CreateSpace, you can choose their Standard Distribution which lists your book at Amazon only for a 40% wholesale discount, or their Expanded Distribution, which gets it in other online retailers in addition to Amazon for 60%. At IngramSpark, you can get that same distribution for a 30% wholesale discount. So, while IngramSpark’s wholesale discount is better, you might experience stock issues on Amazon, which can really hurt your sales. (see: Understanding Wholesale Discounts When Self-Publishing a Book)

My suggestion is to use IngramSpark to distribute your book to everywhere except Amazon and use CreateSpace to distribute to Amazon only.

How that works is you would set up an account at both and upload your book to both. I typically let the listing go live on Amazon through CreateSpace first, then release the title for distribution through IngramSpark. Amazon will see that they already have the title through CreateSpace and will not pick it up through Ingram. If your title is already on Amazon through IngramSpark, you can also submit through CreateSpace and the CreateSpace version will replace the one from IngramSpark.

Here is a step by step:

  1. Create an account at IngramSpark.
  2. Create an account at CreateSpace.
  3. Upload your files to both IngramSpark and CreateSpace. (you will need to set up your cover to each of their specifications, as they are different)
  4. Use the SAME ISBN at both. (this is important!)
  5. Select CreateSpace’s Standard Distribution option. Do NOT select the Expanded Distribution option. (this is important!)
  6. Get a proof copy through CreateSpace. I recommend a printed proof copy, but it is not required.
  7. Once you receive and approve your proof, approve the proof on CreateSpace.
  8. Wait for your book to go live on Amazon. This typically takes 1-3 days.
  9. Approve your book for distribution at IngramSpark. You can also order a printed proof through IngramSpark, but it is not critical.

If your title is already on Amazon through IngramSpark, you can still do this using the steps below:

  1. Create an account at CreateSpace.
  2. Upload your files to CreateSpace. (you will need your cover set up to meet CreateSpace’s specifications)
  3. Use the SAME ISBN that you used for your book on IngramSpark. (this is important!).
  4. Select CreateSpace’s Standard Distribution option. Do NOT select the Expanded Distribution option. (this is important!)
  5. Get a proof copy through CreateSpace. I recommend a printed proof copy, but it is not required.
  6. Once you receive and approve your proof, approve the proof on CreateSpace.
  7. Amazon will replace your listing on Amazon with the CreateSpace version. You will not see a difference in your listing.

Hint: Add something to the copyright page that is different from the file you submit to IngramSpark and CreateSpace and make the book’s description slightly different on each. That way you can tell where a printed book came from and verify that CreateSpace is handling the Amazon listing.

Orders placed through Amazon will be handled through CreateSpace. Any orders placed through other online retailers will be handled by IngramSpark. You will get payments for the book orders from each of them.

There are a few times when this approach will not work.

  1. Your book is a hardcover book. Since CreateSpace does not print hardcovers, you will need to use IngramSpark only.
  2. You do not own your own ISBN. IngramSpark requires that you own your ISBN, you cannot use one assigned by CreateSpace. If your ISBN is assigned by CreateSpace, you can only use them as your distributor.
  3. Color books. While you can use this approach for color books, be aware that the printed quality will not be the same through IngramSpark and CreateSpace as their process for printing colored books is different. This can mean that someone ordering a book through BarnesandNoble.com will not get a different quality book as someone ordering through CreateSpace. Because of this, I do not suggest using both IngramSpark and CreateSpace when the book is printed in color.
Kimberly Martin

Kimberly Martin

Self-publishing specialist with over 15 years of experience, speaker, and coach. In my spare time, I can be found reading, hiking, taking photographs, riding my motorcycle, spoiling my three rescue cats, and decorating the Jera office with my collection of vintage typewriters.
Kimberly Martin
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