Create Space vs Ingram Spark

Cover of Read Me Before You WriteOne of the many joys of independent publishing is having the freedom to make choices. The curse is having so many options, and having to make a decision between them.

Right now I’m trying to decide between Create Space and Ingram Spark for my client’s memoir.

I’ve used Create Space before (for my book Read Me Before You Write), so it’s easy to start my list of pros and cons:

• User friendly, designed for novices with lots of help
• You can make changes to your files for free
• I didn’t see any quality issues with the cover or printing
• The help people are very responsive
• Create Space provides ISBN numbers

The free changes are huge for me, since I am a horrible proofreader. Every time I checked the preview copy, I found another typo.

Cons:

• I did have problems with formatting and went through multiple (as in nearly 20) versions before I got it right. Part of the problem was with the Create Space preview reader, which messed up my pagination.
• Create Space does not offer returns, which is a problem for bricks-and-mortar bookstores

One blogger (I apologize to whoever you are, I forgot where I read this. I’ll gladly link to your excellent post if you let me know who you are) gave a suggestion for a workaround to the return issue. Buy some books yourself using your author discount, pay for the shipping, and offer them to the bookstore on consignment.

Regarding Ingram Spark, I’ve learned

Pros

• Many authors say the printing, layout, and cover quality is much better
• Spark offers returns, which means bookstores will be more willing to stock the book
• Ingram is the largest distributor of books, so they are able to streamline that process

Cons

• Spark is not very user friendly, but according to those who’ve used it, once you’re past the learning curve it’s not too difficult
• Files have can’t in in Word or PDF, meaning InDesign or some other software must be used
• Spark does not provide ISBNs (although I did read they have a deal with Bowker to sell the ISBNs to Spark authors for $85, instead of the regular $125.)
• Spark is not the publisher. This means the author needs to set up a publishing company. Opinions vary on just what this means. Some say you just need a business name, others a bank account in the business name, others say you need to deal with this at varying levels of legal complexity.

Regarding this last point, I want to say I read in one blog that Spark retained the rights to the work. This is not true. The terms of use say the publisher retains the rights. Spark is not the publisher, hence, the need for the author to become the publisher.

Also, some feel allowing Create Space to own the ISBN is a disadvantage. To me, this is only an issue if you want to change publishing platforms from Create Space to something else.

So it seems that Create Space is geared more for beginners or those with only a few books. Spark seems to be an option for those who have more titles to publish.

For more details, especially into the intricacies of pricing, discounts and shipping, check out this excellent chart.

So I think Create Space is the way to go, at least for now. Why?

• My client is unlikely to write another book, so setting up a publishing company wouldn’t be worth the effort
• The simplicity of Create Space will make the process easier for her to manage
• There are ways to work around the no-refunds policy

Does anyone have any other thoughts on the pros and cons of Create Space or Ingram Spark?

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