Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED


I have been asked one question more than any other: “Do I need IngramSpark if I have CreateSpace?”

I know it’s tempting to avoid the extra expense and hassle of taking on a second print on demand (POD) provider, but I want to take a moment and share some of the experiences we’ve had at New Shelves Books with our POD work.  I hope these statements help you determine if you need one or both.

So . . . do you need both?


  • CreateSpace does a terrific job with Amazon.
  • CreateSpace charges less for printing and set up fees than IngramSpark.
  • CreateSpace does offer “extended distribution” for bookstores and libraries (sort of . . . more later).
  • IngramSpark charges set up fees and a lot more for proofs than CreateSpace does.


  • CreateSpace’s “extended distribution” is only fully available to those books using a CreateSpace ISBN. (You should always buy your own ISBNs and have a direct relationship with your book’s brand and ISBNs.)
  • Even if your book has extended distribution and can be bought by bookstores, it most likely won’t be. Bookstores do not relish the idea of giving their biggest competitor money.
  • Books in extended distribution ARE listed at Ingram Wholesalers, but NON-RETURNABLE and at a lesser discount so bookstores and libraries do not get the good terms that they would if they could buy from YOU at IngramSpark.
  • In addition, the extended distribution offered by CreateSpace is actually IngramSpark! CreateSpace uses IngramSpark for the distribution. It does not, however, offer competitive discounts to the bookstores, further narrowing your chances of being stocked.
  • You will be instantly relegated to the pile of “self-published” books before the buyer has a chance to review the quality.
  • IngramSpark allows your book the chance to be ordered in many countries and formats that CreateSpace does not.


  • Use CreateSpace for Amazon. It does a great job and takes less money for each sale.
  • Use IngramSpark in addition so that your book can be ordered by the bookstores and libraries from the large wholesalers with which they prefer doing business.
  • Use your own (Bowker-provided) ISBN so that you have the benefits of your publishing company’s brand on all databases.
  • Don’t cheap out. IngramSpark and CreateSpace are two different tools for two different markets. If you don’t want to be in the retail store and library market, then you don’t need IngramSpark. But if stores and libraries are your goal, then spend the money to provide the books to them in the manner that gives them the best chance of saying “yes.”


If you really cannot stand the thought of using more than one POD provider, go with IngramSpark. It will allow you access to more venues even if it makes you less money per unit.

IngramSpark and CreateSpace take all comers.


190 Comments to Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED

  1. Lisa Lopez says:

    Hi Amy,
    Thank you so much for posting about this topic! I’m still confused about the ISBN issue. I have a book on Create Space Expanded Distribution. I have been told that if I want to go with Ingram Spark I have to delete the title from CS THEN go to INgram Spark. Won’t that disrupt sales? And then should I purchase a NEW ISBN for both Ingram Spark and CS? Just not sure about the process to get both titles on both platforms. THANK YOU!!

  2. Angela says:

    Originally, I published my first two books with a company who uses IngramSparks. Now, I want to do it by myself. I was planning on using CreateSpace because I realized that I’d get more royalties, plus, I don’t have to order 250 books like I did with my publisher. However, I want my books to be returnable for book signings if I ever need that option. Although IngramSparks has the set up fee, would I be able to use IngramSparks as a “backup” so my books can be returnable and just use CreateSpace to upload to Kindle and order paperbacks?

  3. Amy Collins,
    First, I’ve been reading that IF you are publishing a picture book, the paper quality is better on create space.
    Second, what would you recommend for the ebook? CreateSpace or IS?

    CreateSpace doesn’t have a hard cover yet, so I’m using IS for the hardcover and thought I’d let them do the Ebook as well. Does it make a difference who does it?
    KDP has helped the sales of my first little ebook as it’s quite a unique market.

    Your thoughts or anyone out there! 🙂 Thanks! Christine

  4. […] Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED […]

    • I have two books published on the IngramSpark platform and intend to bring the third in my series out in the same way… partially because when I set up with IS two years ago, they did not accept concurrent titles that had also been published on CreateSpace/Amazon. Has this rule changed?

      Also, I’ve been laboring under the impression (falsely?) that self-pubbed authors on IS cannot offer returns to bookstores. Is this no longer true?

      Thank you for your thoughts!


      • Amy Collins says:

        Create Space and Ingram Spark do not refuse to do business with publishers and authors who work with both IS and CS. Not sure where you heard that rule, but it is not a rule. Not anymore. You can and SHOULD use both.

        IS does offer returnable terms. If you have an IS account you can log in and set your sales terms to returnable. But be careful that offering your books returnable will still allow you to make money.

    • Teri says:

      Thank you for this helpful and brief breakdown on POD for CreateSpace and Ingram. What is your opinion on setting up the ebook directly with Kindle, Nook, iBook, Kobo, etc…rather than doing the ebook service through Ingram? I was intending to handle my ebooks directly with Kindle, etc, but use Ingram and CreateSpace for POD. Thanks for any input.

  5. If you are a foreign author (I’m Canadian) and plan on going with returnable option and have the book returned to you, here’s something massively pertinent to your profitability to note:

    For returns for US addresses you will be charged for the current wholesale cost of each book returned, plus a $2.00 per book shipping and handling charge.

    For returns to non-US/international locations you will be charged for the current wholesale cost of each book returned, PLUS a $20.00 US per book shipping and handling charge.

    Wow! This is asinine. You’d sink your ship with this option. When is this antiquated return system going to end? This practice began in the dirty 30’s because of the Depression. The 1930s and we still use this ridiculous system – in the era of the iPhone! NO other industry allows returns like this. It is not viable for authors or publishers and it is destructive to the environment when we opt for return and destroy.” It needs to end.

  6. Mark20 says:

    Hi, do you allow guest posting on newshelves.com ? 🙂 Let me know on my email

  7. […] in perfect harmony. Amy Collins does a terrific job of breaking down how to use both over at http://www.newshelves.com, if you are interested in someone else’s take on it. I will give you my two cents worth here, […]

  8. […] Why you need IngramSpark AND CreateSpace – UPDATED […]

    • Thank you for the info! I am still trying to figure this out! I self-published in 2010 and my account is with Ingram (was with LS). My book on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca has statement “temporarily out of stock!” Which is not true as it is print on demand. This can happen to those with Ingram. Only way to get rid of this is for me to upload onto Create Space (CS), which I am doing. I plan to keep both accounts-CS for Amazon & Ingram for bookstores, online retailers & libraries. Ingram will not allow limited distribution-it is all or nothing. My question: when someone orders my book on Amazon, will the order go to Ingram or Create Space as I will have two accounts? (I asked a rep at Create Space the question & they did not know.) Thank you!

  9. Ben Russell says:

    Amy, outside of IngramSpark, should I pull my createspace expanded distribution if I also publish to Smashwords?

  10. Jyoti O'Keefe says:

    A related follow-up to my previous question: do you have any system to set up a title at Ingram Sparks/Lightning Source to avoid non-library returns for printed books? Do they ever source the book’s Amazon.com online sales if the title is also set up with Createspace?

  11. Jyoti O'Keefe says:

    Hi Amy, thank you for your helpful information. My question: if my goal is to maximize profit and I list my title on CS and Ingram Spark ( using same Bowker purchased ISBN), can I select different wholesale discounts on Ingram Spark i.e 20% for online Amazon sales and 55% for library. Can I also specify different return status for those 2 scenarios? Does Lughtning Source offer this if Ingram Sparks does not? If not, is it worth setting up 2 editions of the same title at Ingram, one short discounted and not returnable and one at library specs? I notice I have not recently seen as many if any library bound formats of books on Amazon.com – is that a thing if the past?

  12. Harshavardhan Yardi says:

    I have just published my first book with Amazon’s new KDP paperback service. However, if I have to publish the same book using Ingram, can I publish it in the paperback format? or do I have to change it to Hardcover? will Ingram give me a free ISBN for Hardcover?

  13. Great article! This is the clearest explanation I’ve seen for how and why Ingram Sparks and Createspace should work together. I plan to implement this strategy in my business. Thank you!

  14. Bill Guild says:

    I’m trying to decide whether to allow our book to be marked returnable in Ingram Spark. I understand that bookstores won’t stock a book marked non-returnable and that the author gets charged for any books returned. What I haven’t been able to find out, and Ingram Spark hasn’t responded to my email, is what is the author actually charged? Is it the cost of printing, printing plus shipping or the price originally charged to the bookstore? My search on the internet revealed all of the above.. so can you help me out here? Thanks

    • Amy Collins says:

      If you choose returnable/deliver, the books will be delivered to you and you will be charged a fee and shipping. If you choose returnable/destroy, they will destroy the books in place and you will not be charged.

      • Bill Guild says:

        Just got this reply from IngramSpark:

        “When the title is returned to us, we only charge you for the price after the wholesale discount.

        IngramSpark Customer Support”

        If I’m interpreting this correctly, it appears that the self-published author is responsible not just for the cost of printing, but the wholesale cost. I can see where this could really add up with any significant number of returns. Although I’d like to have the books returnable so bookstores would order them, I don’t think I want to open myself up to possibly losing money. I’ll probably mark them non-returnable and stick with online sales.

      • Ellen Mains says:

        Dear Amy,
        I would like to understand exactly what “returnable/destroy” means. Does the bookstore supposedly destroy the book (if not, who?) and receive a credit for whatever they paid the distributor? What is the author charged for in that case? (It’s hard for me to comprehend how destroying the book ends up better for either the author or distributor.) Also, can you or someone list everything the author is charged for if he/she chooses returnable/deliver? I would love to understand how this works and it might clear up some confusion for others too. Thank you so much!

  15. Kirk Heriot says:

    Informative thread. I certainly agree the combination of CS and IS is good. What about starting the process with Bookbaby, which has more novice-friendly starter services, such as cover design, interior formatting and design, than CS or IS? What about going to Bookbaby with my own ISBN, using them for design, formatting, and all ebook distribution, getting a small number of POD for reviews, then taking the file and going to CS and IS for primary POD and hardcopy distribution? Bookbaby seems to be more user friendly for beginners.

  16. Incredibly useful thread! thanks, Amy, for all this. My question (which I hope I didn’t miss someone else already asking) is, how possible/easy is it to have a hardcover edition produced through Spark and sold through Amazon? And, get its listing correctly linked to the Kindle and Audible versions there? I’m considering delaying paperback for a year and going with only hardcover (plus Kindle and Audible) but want them all available in one location on Amazon. Doable?

    • Amy Collins says:

      Very doable. You can publish your HC and offer it through IngramSpark and it WILL show up on Amazon.com In a few weeks, the different editions will link up and all be together. (It happens even faster if you email Amazon through your Author Central account and ask them to link them!)

    • I’ve published all 25 of my nonfiction as hardcove on Ingram, paperback on Createspace, as well as audio and kindle. Ingram is pretty simple to set up, and they have coupons to eliminate the fees.

  17. John says:

    Attn: Amy Collins
    Re: A bug in your link to a post in your name dated 05/25/2016.

    The link’s URL lists itself as “www.myidentifiers.com” clearly not Bowker. Clicking on that link brought up a gaudy mishmash, which included a “get your ISBN” under a fake Bowker logo. The site quickly crashed and a fake Mozilla Crash Report window popped open. The window provided no link to Mozilla (Firefox) and was designed for no other purpose than to obtain my email address. Staring at this fake window, I noticed on Firefox’s lower left hand corner message box,”Waiting for Pinterest.com”. I baled out quickly. I think you would like to know this and rid yourself of that link. It is not Bowker.


  18. Little late to the conversation here. But I have 5 books on CS (did use expanded distribution), all free CS assigned ISBN’s. But in the future I do want to use both Ingram Spark and CS. I know I need to get my own ISBN’s, but where do I go from there. Do I take the old books down then rerelease, or will the new editions overwrite the older ones. Do I need to upload with Ingram Spark then CS, or do I do it vice-versa?

    • Amy Collins says:

      I would suggest re releasing as new editions with new ISBNs. Then, once the new editions are out, declare the first editions out of print. You can ask Amazon to copy the reviews from your first edition to your second editions.

  19. My distributor has folded, Partners Pub. Group of Holt Mich. I was with them for 20 years. I’m looking for a good distributor. My self published memoir “Yorkie Doodle Dandy, Or the Other Woman was a Real Dog” has 23,000 books in print. It is available on Amazon, and hit 70,000 ranking twice last week. I don’t advertise.
    Smoky is the most famous war dog of WWII. The four pound Yorkie found in a jungle foxhole in New Guinea holds many records.The first Therapy dog of record ( Animal Planet Research))and has 11 memorials in the U.S. and three in Australia, her birth place. All this and more as these and much more were began because of “Yorkie Doodle Dandy. Check Wikipedia Smoky War Dog. (not updated ) Smoky is mentioned 300,000 web sites google Smoky war dog, Smoky therapy dog. Greatest war dogs.

    Any guidance would be appreciated.

  20. Tomas Pimentel says:

    Createspace don’t pay royalty. Everybody is talking about it. I had my book with createspace for 21 months. This company paid me 13 books 1st two weeks. Then, they kept the profits. I transferred the title to Ingramspark, two later sale were showing. Good luck with your royalty if you go Createspace

    • Amy Collins says:

      Anyone else have this experience? I am getting my monthly payments regularly, but this sounds awful!

      • Getting mine regularly as well…even when it is only a $0.50 – $1.50 rarely.

      • I didn’t get my CS royalties for years. By the time I started getting them, I had decided to switch to LSI for my novels as well. I’m glad I did.
        I now have a huge problem. I used Spark to send out an ebook and print version of my memoir. Amazon picked up the print version right away but now, weeks later, still isn’t registering the ebook version.
        Any thoughts or ideas for help–that do not include putting the book on Kindle through Amazon myself–are appreciated.

      • Suspect OP didn’t set up Direct Deposit. You used to be able to get a check, but only after reaching a high payment threshold. That’s no longer an option.

  21. Curious Author says:

    I have my own ISBN numbers. I set up Ingram with the U.S. and worldwide distribution. And, I set up Createspace with Amazon and CreateSpace Store. My CreateSpace does not have expanded distribution set up. I would like to offer my paperbacks on BN.com through NookPress instead of Ingram. But I would like to otherwise keep Ingram. Is there a way to do this? Are there pros and cons?

  22. Chris says:

    Hi, I have a new author account with Ingram Spark and just recently purchased two copies of my book through my publishing company and the sales were reported to my company. Also I as the author received royalties.

    However when I further purchased 38 books the same way, I did not receive my royalties nor did my publishing company receive any report showing the sales of the 38 books as Ingram Spark did when the original first two books were sold.

    I talked to a person for the company and they told me, they can’t find the invoice of the sale of the 38 books and also that as an author I cant expect any royalties from sales that I made through my own Ingram author account using my publishing company. However they did pay me royalties on the first two books that i paid for using the same process they now say i can collect royalties on.

    Any clarify on this matter will help.

    • Amy Collins says:

      Hi Chris, If anyone buys the books at just the print cost, then Ingram will not consider that a sale to a customer and they will not count the sale as a distribution sale.

      SO I am assuming that your publishing company accidently ordered your first two books through another channel, but when you placed the next order, they simply placed an order with IngramSpark as a printing order.

      I would check with your publishing company, but that is my guess….

  23. RV says:

    A Create Space service rep told me they cannot cancel my account with Ingram, that I had to call them. What Ingram has just informed me is that if you’ve EVER used Create Space’s expanded distribution, even with your Bowker ISBN you have to file a transfer addendum to move your book over to them and they become the POD. I will no longer be with Create Space. However, Ingram will still publish with Amazon. Still, I need to consider where to go with the series, this means the rest could be with Create Space and Ingram, a hard split for Beyond the Sapphire Gate, book 1.

  24. Great information! I have an FB group (Self Publishing Support Group), and I am asked about CS vs Ingram often. My business is dedicated to formatting and design of books, and I am always looking for additional experts to fill in the gaps so I have somewhere to direct my clients for the next step.

    I will be sharing this in my group today, and I know that several will benefit from it.

  25. Carolyn says:

    I find this all too confusing :-\ I think I will just stick with CreateSpace for now.

  26. LauraR says:

    Good morning,
    Thank you for having this page available, lots of useful information here. I am about to self-publish my first book (color book, a bio intended for children and, of course, adults also will read!) and I have a question regarding ISBN. I want to have the book on CreateSpace, so I like the idea of having an ISBN free of charge. But I would also like to publish the book on Ingram as they provide a better quality paper. I will buy those books and sell them myself in my community and other places. So, the question is, can I use the same ISBN I got from CreateSpace for free to be used on Ingram’s print batch? Or do I need to request from Ingram a new ISBN? Look forward to hearing from you, thanks very much!

    • Amy Collins says:

      Hi Laura, You need to go to http://www.myidentifiers.com and get your OWN ISBNs. Please do not buy any ISBNs from any third party sources. YOU need to have the branding and own the ISBNs yourself. CreateSpace and Ingram Spark will happily sell you ISBNs but you should buy your own from Bowker directly. Thanks for the great question!


      • LINDA SONNA says:

        I don’t understand the answer to the question. I have bunches of Bowker ISBNs, so “where” to buy them isn’t an issue.

        The question is whether publishing the SAME book with both CreateSpace and with Ingram means that each book must have a different ISBN.

        • Linda Jordan says:

          You must have a different ISBN for CreateSpace and Ingram. They are different editions.

          • Amy Collins says:

            I am afraid not Linda. They are the two different printers printing one edition of your book. The only reason to have two ISBNs is if you are publishing two different versions of the book. Where you print and distribute the book does not matter. Yes, IS and CS WISH and SUGGEST you have two ISBNS, but they are only thinking of themselves. Having two ISBNs is wrong and only confuses people. It also makes achieve bestseller status twice as hard as your sales are split between two ISBNs.

            Please do NOT use two ISBNs. You can and should only use one.

            now, if you have published your book with CreateSpace and used THIER ISBN, then yes, you will have to use a new ISBN for every other part of the market. But that is because you gave CS your distribution rights when you used their ISBN and published under them.

            Buy your own ISBNs from Bowker and use one per edition of the book. Hope that helps!

  27. Laura Peskin says:

    Bottom line: No chain bookstores will stock even one copy of a non-returnable book. (I read about an exception on this forum; that is quite rare; that book must be red-hot + author must know someone at a chain.) All CS books are non-returnable. Therefore if you want your book in chain bookstores, you need to make it returnable and go with a publisher that accommodates that choice such as LS.

    I can see how making a nationwide or worldwide book returnable could be problem. I guess I like the idea because I’m only marketing my books in about 12 counties of one state.

  28. Patrick Gerard says:

    For the record, the math on economy color books is different. Ingram is around 40% lower than CS if you compare Standard 70 Color with CreateSpace’s color.

    There is a different set of reasons you want to go for both in that case:

    – CreateSpace keeps you listed as In Stock.

    – While the agreements require the retail price to be the same if it’s the same edition of the same book, you can run different discounts on Ingram. You can run a low discount to maximize returns from non-Amazon sales or you can run a high discount in hopes that competitors of Amazon will discount your book, prompting Amazon to price match. (In this case, they MAY source your book through Ingram — they CAN do hat but being listed on CS ensures that you will receive a CS royalty and may ensure that Amazon won’t return copies to Ingram if they order an excess since those would be logged as CS sales even though Ingram is sourcing them.)

    – Ingram allows for returnability. Note: this is financially a very bad idea for print on demand unless you are charging college textbook prices, which may cover the expected returned books. My math generally says returnability is only ever smart on POD if you have a book under around 300 pages with a cover price of more than around $60. Even then, you need to watch your returns but you should comfortably make more than returns will cost you. The economics actually make a lot of sense for (niche) college textbooks since you’re doing something niche enough that printing and warehousing thousands of copies wouldn’t make sense (particularly as the good money is in yearly updated editions) with an acceptable price high enough to net you a royalty higher than expected cost of returns. Doing returns with novels is often a recipe for bankruptcy. You need a high margin per book to offset returns if you’re offering returnability.

    – You can do hardcovers at Ingram.

  29. Its disgusting. Ingram is a competitor of Create space. They first make an agreement to allow Create Space users to put their books in their catalog. I am sure they got paid by Amazon to do this. Then they turn around and discriminate and promote a boycott of Create Space via ABA, and they think this is legal. I have news for them. The FTC does not think this is legal at all and a class action lawsuit by authors is the next step, if not an investigation of nefarious practices. To suggest that if you don’t use their system and pay, they’ll simply discriminate or boycott you because you are with Create Space is mosber like. I would not publish my book with these crooks. They’ll never ever send me royalties.

  30. Rae Shagalov says:

    Amy, a bookstore recently told me that they can’t meet Ingram’s new minimums and that indie bookstores are starting to only order now from Baker & Taylor. I have just published my book on Createspace with my own barcode, so it’s not eligible for CS distribution to B&T. How can I get my Createspace printed book with my own barcode into Baker & Taylor? Thank you!

    • Amy Collins says:

      I am afraid that the only way to get into B&T is to go to their website at BTOL.com and apply as a new vendor. I am hearing from a number of small presses that Ingram is not giving bookstores with less than $5000 in business a year the full discount.

      • Patrick Gerard says:

        The flipside is that many small booksellers (and I know there are many vocal exceptions) have less qualms with Amazon. I have a friend who owns a small bookstore and he’s an Amazon devotee. He sells through them online. I think he would sign on with CreateSpace Advanage (CS’ vendor program) but he doesn’t need to because he buys books direct from me, which I sell to him at printing costs plus my internal shipping cost per book plus what my royalty would have been. So he’s getting around a 60% discount instead of the around 40% he’d get from a standard CS or IngramSpark deal.

        This is one advantage Ingram and CS have over, say, BookBaby or Author Solutions: You can self-distribute and obtain copies at a low enough cost for that to be viable.

  31. Thanks everyone for some great comments on self-pubbing pros and cons. I have been over to a Goodreads thread on this same thing (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1101559-is-anyone-making-money-with-lightning-source-print?page=2) where they seem pro-LS but now I am thinking that to start, and with little capital to put into it, I may use CS and then later move to LS when I have my feet wet. Judging by the feedback on both forums, buying your own ISBNs through Bowker is the best practice, since you can port it anywhere you choose to go for self-pubbing. That’s a chunk of change, but it seems worth it. Thanks for the awesome discussion!

  32. Okay, forgive me. I didn’t read far down in the thread. I see I only need one ISBN for the POD version.

    However, should I still delist Amazon from IngramSpark? I’ve read that I should be fine since CS was publsihed/available first.

    Just crossing my t’s!

    • Amy Collins says:

      Yes, please UNCLICK on the “extended distribution” box and then write your CreateSpace rep to have them remove your book from their LightningSource/IngramSpark account. (They won’t do it automatically unless you ask)

  33. Amy Collins says:

    Hi Carol,

    I can hear your frustration. There are a few vanity presses with integrity. I like Ballentine up in St. Johnsbury VT. But publishing a book DOES cost thousands of dollars. Editing, Design, Layout, Covers, proofreading… these cost money and publishing a book has expenses that cannot be avoided I am afraid.

  34. Jeffrey says:

    Hi! Thanks you for being so generous with your thoughts and answers. This is a long thread!

    My question: We were advised by a book producer to get one ISBN for IngramSpark, one for CreateSpace, one for Kindle, and one for the other ebooks. And to do as you suggest, which is to have CreateSpace (and Kindle) only on Amazon. The ISBNs are free since the author is Canadian and they give them out there. My question is, will Bowker list the book twice? Does that matter? Can you have the CreateSpace version not list in Bowker? Could we list all of the ISBNs on the copyright page? Or would the IS and CreateSpace editions carry their own ISBNs?


    • Amy Collins says:

      I am afraid the advice was not quite correct. You are not allowed to have more than one ISBN for the exact same book. The book’s format, size and edition is ONE ISBN. All ebooks are one more ISBN (Kindle, Nook, etc…. all one ISBN)

      • Amy Collins says:

        You have come up with some good ideas here. If you wish to keep it to CreateSpace alone for the first few months and then move it to Ingram as well for bookstore distribution, there is no reason not to.

        You CAN print them or yourself at CreateSpace and sell them to your local stores yourself. Many people do. Just be aware that you will most likely have to sell them on consignment.

      • Prashant says:

        Thank you so much for some wonderful suggestions Madame Amy Collins. I have read this entire blog and comments till August 2014. I am from India and I like the idea of createspace. But my understanding and confusion is as follows

        – I can use Createspace for ebook and Ingram for distribution.
        – I can use my own ISBN for books sold through either Createspace or Lighting Source.

        Please correct me, if I am wrong on the above. Now I need to know

        1) How to make my book available to India?
        2) Which ISBN should I use so that the book is available on kindle and has a global distribution network? Can the distribution reach libraries and book stores?
        3) How will the Payment be done to my Indian account?

        I am new to createspace. Therefore, I request you to help.

  35. Polly says:

    Could you please clarify one thing on the logistics of using both LS and CS:

    I’ve seen comments that you should have a separate ISBN for your LS book and your CS book.

    This isn’t making much sense as your ISBN is supposed to be assigned to each “format” of your book, so if it’s the same format — paperback — wouldn’t it have the same ISBN whether it’s sold on CS or LS?

    Thank you for the clarification. (Our LS rep says we have to have a different ISBN too if we sell our CS book direct to Amazonn…which I don’t believe is correct.)


    • Amy Collins says:

      DO NOT use a different ISBN for CS and Ingram/Lightning Source! Use the same ISBN. One ISBN per format is the rule. Ignore what your LS rep told you.

      • Deborah Weimer says:

        I know this is somewhat later but we are going through the process now with a book listed on CS (with our own ISBN) and want to distribute to libraries and independent bookstores so have gotten it approved by Ingram Spark. They would only approve it if there was a different ISBN for them. Same with Smashwords and Nook. So the bottom line is that there are ISBNs floating around for the same book all over the place because people won’t let us use an ISBN used for another platform. What is the deal?

        • Heather says:

          I am wondering if they are saying that because an ISBN on createspace can be given for free, so you can’t use a free createspace ISBN over on IngramSpark. Also, did you originally, properly assign/register your ISBN with you as the publisher and your title, etc. over at Bowker when you first published? I wonder if that could have something to do with this equation.

  36. Vivien Reis says:

    Great article! I have some questions, though, that I haven’t found the answers to anywhere else:

    If you use CS for Amazon distribution only, and use IS for all other distribution, what happens if an international customer orders the Amazon book? As I see it, IS is better for overseas sales, but if the customer frequently uses Amazon, won’t it pull from CS and negate the reason for even using IS?

    Also, if I want a hardcover through IS but available on Amazon, do I have to use two different ISBNs? I’m kind of confused about how Amazon and IS blend together. Any help is much appreciated!


  37. I found your post and thread when I searched for exactly that, CreateSpace (CS) and Ingrams Lightning Source (ILS) together.

    I have a title up on CS ( http://amzn.to/1Loe1zT ).

    In the discussion I’m seeing that CS is good to have because it’s better with Amazon. How so?

    I convinced a Barnes & Noble to stock a few. Local interest manager said. She’d take a chance on a POD. She said forget aboit the rest of the chain because it’s not returnable. I understand. And that would be the big advantage to ILS.

    With the CS ISBN is it possible to put the same book on ILS? I suppose not.

    Would the best approach be?

    1. Take it down.
    2. Buy a Bowker ISBN.
    3. Put it up on ILS.
    4. Put it back up on CS.

    I also have a sci-fi ready to go. Is it best to start on ILS and then add it to CS?

    Thank you for any help.

  38. […] Newshelves provides an excellent comparison of these three services. […]

  39. rachel says:

    For POD, if I set up a CS account (without expanded distribution) and also set up a LS account, which venue will amazon choose? Technically, my profit would be higher if amazon selects CS (as the printing cost is less), but how do I ensure this?

  40. Skye says:

    I already have a book with IngramSpark. Currently it’s being distributed by them for POD and eBook.

    My understanding from this article, and others is that I would be better off using CreateSpace to distribute POD to Amazon.

    I’m also inclined to move my eBook distribution to Smashwords but that’s another story.

    If I want to add my title to CreateSpace, do I need to change anything at IngramSpark, or will the two coexist on Amazon so long as I don’t enable extended distrribution on CreateSpace?

    The other thing I’m concerned about is that some people here have mentioned problems with remuneration from CreateSpace. What are the issues here?

    • Amy Collins says:

      You have it exactly right. If you don’t choose extended distribution with CreateSpace then you can EASILY coexist with Ingram Spark and CreateSpace.

      As for payment from CreateSpace… I have nothing but good experiences with them. Anyone else?

      • MJ says:

        Hi Amy,

        Can you help me?

        I self-published my 1st novel in Oct. 2014 through IngramSpark with my pre-purchased Bowker ISBN. Note, I established a publishing LLC for this. Book sales are picking up and of course, I need a lesser expensive mechanism to purchase my own books, and added methods for readers to reach my book.

        Soo, I have set up a CreateSpace account but am not sure of what to do regarding the following:
        1. Do I use the same ISBN for CS for this 1st book that’s listed with IS?
        2. Is it best to use a 2nd Bowker-purchased ISBN # for the CS book?
        3. Or should I use the same ISBN from CS?
        4. You mentioned wide distribution or another term that is/isn’t to be selected when establishing a book through CS that’s already going through IS…

        5. Should I let CS assign an ISBN for this book printed through them?

        I am a bit confused. I’ve been reading through blogs and thought I had it figured out.

        6. Also, I will be doing the Ebook for the same book. Is it best to have it through CS or IS?


    • Spencer Selby says:

      I’m not sure I agree. If you set yr wholesale price right–no more than 60% of retail–then you get other resellers on Amazon that 1) makes yr book seem more popular and 2) undercuts Amazon’s price, not alot but enough to interest or lure those that want lowest price.

    • Donna says:

      The issues people have are, in reality, due to their own misunderstanding of how Amazon pays out. Basically, they pay you about 3 months behind. So, the payment you get at the end of each month is for the sales you made 3 months ago. This is only disappointing for the first 3 months. But people who expect to get paid for books they sold last month are going to be badly confused, if they forget this. What’s more, if you have a month without sales, that will be skipped too, obviously. And, of course, people can return items for a refund, too.

      Just to make things extra confusing, payments from different countries come in separately.

      People see sales come onto their board from all over, and then they wonder where their money is. If they actually paid attention and waited the correct amount of time, they’d realize that they got it. 🙂

  41. A Question: If we use Ingram Spark is there a way for books stores to do returns. We understand that books stores are unlikely to order even from Ingram unless returns are an option.

    I appreciate you thoughts. We don’t want to do a major publicity push for our new books until we are sure we’ve done everything to support bookstores being able to order books.


  42. Dan S says:

    CreateSpace didn’t work out for me. The book came out great but when it came time to pay out my royalties, a big fat ZERO. The payouts met the minimum threshold, too. They just gave a bunch of lame excuses that never panned out. At the end, simply stalling tactics. There are also many complaints about CreateSpace underreporting sales. CreateSpace is a Amazon company, but it’s a shady operation. I would stay away from them.

  43. Michael Patrick says:


    I am coming way late to this party, but I want to make sure I do this right.

    1) Buy ISBN from Bowker

    2) Publish with Create Space
    a) do not choose Expanded Distro
    b) have them do the Kindle (I’ve used CS before, and they do a great job with the Kindle)

    3) Publish with Ingram Spark using the SAME barcode.

    But with Ingram Spark, can I turn off distro to Amazon?

    Since the physical books will have the same bar code, I am supposing that IS cannot override the initial entry by CS. Is that correct?

    It appears, from what I’m reading, that with IS I can opt out of Kindle (or just not choose it). Is this correct?

    I spoke to someone at LS/IS, and they told me that they do not put their logo on the books, and if I had my own imprint, I was free to use my own logo. Has anyone had any experience with this?

    Any help that anyone could give would be a BIG help, and I would really appreciate it.

    Thank you!
    Michael Patrick

  44. Amy, thanks for the article. I have a couple questions for you.

    I have 2 books out through LightningSource. I was considered adding CreateSpace to the mix (doing both LS and CS) but only because my books, although selling well on Amazon and being POD, show up frequently as ‘temporarily out-of-stock’, which I’m told has a great negative impact on sales.

    You had said that you make more per-unit using Createspace. I was curious what you meant because my understanding is that CS takes much more money than LS, assuming you are using the short, 20% discount (which I am). Maybe you were talking about publishers who are setting 55% discounts on LS, who are focused on bookstores instead of online, but maybe you could clarify?

    My understanding is that I’d make significantly less per-unit switching to CS, which is the only thing holding me back from making the change right now. I actually don’t want to do it at all, except for people telling me that the ‘out-of-stock’ thing really impacts sales. Thanks.

  45. George says:

    Hello Ami,

    Thanks for the great post.

    I would like to ask one tricky question please. I have published my mum’s first book on Amazon as a ebook.

    Now i would like to publish it on a hard copy using both LS and CS.

    I know after reading almost every single post how to make it happen.

    So the questiin: If my book is enrolled in KDP sellect it says in the agreement that i cant publish anywhere else. Does that reflect to LS?i think for three months.

    Many thanks

    Best wishes,

  46. Terry Lynch says:

    Amy, thanks for this article. Great information here, many great comments. Thanks for your diligence and patience in your replies, you had to repeat yourself several times but you did so with considerable grace. Thanks!

  47. Joe says:

    Here is my biggest concern and I am wondering how this works. IF a book store suddenly returns copies of your book they purchased using LS … how does this work? Does LS send you a bill and destroy the book? Or does it warehouse the book and wait for it to sell again.

    Not that this happens that often but if they do send you a bill do they then send you the book that was returned? I would hate to get billed then have the book destroyed as well if that makes any sense.

    Thanks for the responses

    • Amy Collins says:

      It depends upon what return choice you made when signing up the title. If you checked “return – destroy” they will destroy the books. If you chose “return – full copy” they will resell the returned book or return to you, as you wish…

  48. Kim Moitog says:

    I think you may have missed a huge problem by using the same ISBN with both LS and CS. You forgot about the accounting. They are both giving you royalties on the same ISBN which could cause some serious issues, legal and otherwise. Even if you don’t choose “Expanded” (not extended as noted above), LS will still pay you royalties on copies sold on amazon, so you’re getting paid twice from both printers. If LS finds out, they could drop you and if you’ve been with them a long time, then that’s not news you want to hear. That’s a huge mess waiting to happen.

    • Amy Collins says:

      Actually, you will not get double paid and there are no royalties Royalties are paid by publishers to authors for publishing rights. LSI and CS pay for books that they purchased from you and sold to their clients. If Amazon buys from CS, then they will not order those same books from LSI. A bookstore will order from Ingram who gets the books from LSI.

      If you are going to use LSI, do NOT check EXTENDED DISTRIBUTION on CS and you will not be in violation of any contracts or in danger of “double dipping”.

  49. Carolyn Robertson says:


    I already have a book out with createspace. I am based in Uk. I have my own ISBN and publishing name. I would like to add my title to Lightning Source as bookshops here are wanting to stock but won’t use Amazon. My question is, because createspace is a US based company if i switch off the expanded distribution channels then will that mean that createspace will stop printing in UK and all books for Uk customers will have to buy via US?? Thus incur shipping?

    • Amy Collins says:

      Good question! CS will not stop printing and shipping from the UK when the orders are in the UK. CS uses Ingram Lightning Source for their expanded distribution when orders come in. If the orders come in from the US, they use the US printers. When the orders come in from the UK, the printers used are in the UK.

  50. E.S. Ivy says:

    I write middle grade novels, so I’m thinking that getting into school libraries might be necessary for any level of success – thus needing to look at print options in addition to CreateSpace. Thanks for this comparison.

  51. NSA Georgia | New Shelves Distribution says:

    […] Do you need IngramSpark and CreateSpace? […]

  52. ron says:


    Could you pls clarify … just released our first book through createpsace and going with paperback and e-book versions (ebook Kindle exclusive for 90 days)

    I just signed up for IS (for expanded dist.) and it immediately asks you to sign four legal agreements -1. Global POD Agreement, 2. Global Ebook Agreement, 3. Apple (Agency) Ebook Agreements, 4. Amazon (Kindle) Ebook Addendum

    You mentioned above that by not submitting an ebook (and signing all agreements i jedt mentioned above) that by default and not submitting e-pubs into IS that there are no legal issues with exclusivity between amazon and IS…?

    just want to be 100% sure before signing the IS legal agreements

    Thank you and look forward to your response.

  53. Katie says:

    This has been extremely helpful to read before I publish w Createspace. Based on this I won’t be selecting their Expanded Distribution right now.

    1. Can I change this in the future if I want to?

    2. What is this CreateSpace Direct, that’s part of the Expanded Distribution?

    • Amy Collins says:

      CreateSpace extended distribution is something that you can choose later if you wish. CreateSpace Direct is their own shopping portal. It is not part of Extended Distribution. Extended Distribution is offered through Lightning Source.

      • JJ Semple says:

        We use both LSI and CS, as per your formula. We wanted to double-check my process since we haven’t published a title for over a year. Our main worry is not to have the LSI detail page overwrite the CS detail page on Amazon. It used to be that it wouldn’t, but if you publish first on CS and then follow up on LSI, is the detail page on Amazon still the generated by CS?

        Could you outline the steps to assure this. Thanks…

    • Jeff Marshall says:

      Hi Amy, in using both LSI and Createspace, does using the same universal ISBN in both places cause an issue? LSI still distributes any created title to Amazon even though the book might already be created with Amazon. I would think this would cause an issue

      • Amy Collins says:

        If you own the ISBN and purchased it from the proper channels (Bowker), then you are fine. The book and ISBN is being DISTRIBUTED by both CS and IS, and just like any other printer or distributor out there, they sell books that are being sold by other companies all the time. The only time you get into a sticky situation is when you buy the ISBN from CreateSpace and they are the owners. Then they will not allow you to go to IP because you do not OWN the ISBN and they have already registered it with Ingram as one of theirs.

        • Lee says:

          Is it necessary to purchase the ISBN through Bowker? CreateSpace says that for $99 they will sell you an ISBN that you own. Does this get registered anywhere as having been first purchased through CreateSpace, or is it the same as purchasing it from Bowker? Do you have the same flexibility of entering data as you would if you purchased directly from Bowker?

        • Anthony says:

          I’m late to this party, Amy. Thanks for all the great advice. I’m wondering if I’ve already gone with a CreateSpace generated ISBN, is there a way out or around that’ll enable me to get my book into LS as well?

          • Amy Collins says:

            The best course of action is to purchase an ISBN from Bowker and rerelease your book as a new edition (Amazon will link your current and new edition) and release through both companies with some fan fare. That way you get a new pub date and chance to fix things.

  54. Great article/thread. Though it opens doors, I’m thinking NO on the LSI/IS because bookstores only are interested for a few months and then they return half the books. No profit there at all — not worth the hassle. I WOULD like to have libraries as an option. I see on CS site that, for some strange reason, if one wants to sell to libraries, they need to use the CS ISBN. eeek. What are the disadvantages of using their ISBN rather than my own?

    • Amy Collins says:

      If you use their ISBN you cannot transfer the files or the book distribution anywhere else, they own the ISBN. As the publisher, YOU should ALWAYS own your own ISBN and have control of the info in Bowker’s system.

  55. JP says:

    The idea of using Createspace for the proof is a great one but can you really be sure that the subsequent printing from Lightning Source will correspond exactly? And I suppose if you’re also printing hardcovers you have no other option but to get a proof from Lightning Source, correct?

    • Amy Collins says:

      In my experience, LSI’s quality is always HIGHER than Create Space. So no real worries there I believe. I tend to approve the file first and then order a copy of the book to save money and time. But the FIRST book you do with Ingram, you have to get a proof. They insist. After that, we can just order books as needed.

      • JP says:

        After the great help from you and your site I decided on the route of basic CS and LS. My paperback proof arrived from CS and it is quite simply amazing. I was anticipating sub-par with the higher quality coming from LS but I must say the CS is stunning. I e-proofed the LS and am awaiting the physical proof – one can never be too sure in my opinion, even if there is added expense. If it is even more exceptional I think my head might explode from glee. But if it can be at least on par I will be very happy.
        One thing about LS/IngramSpark is that regardless of how conscientious I was with my interior and cover files there always seemed to be an issue with colour profiles so I went ahead and accepted their $10 offer to fix. At CS I was able to speak to someone who actually seemed to be handling the files and offered to make tweaks for free. At LS I spoke only with a customer service rep. (No judgment – just observation.)

  56. Nancy says:

    So, I had done some researching when I was questioning whether to use CreateSpace’s ISBN or buy my own. After reading several articles (unfortunately not this one) I decided that it was fine to use the free CS ISBN. What is your advice for me now? I am interested in publishing through Lightning Source, so should I get rid of expanded distribution on CS (can I even change this after the fact?) and then buy an ISBN through Bowker to use for Lightning Source and just keep my book on CS with the free ISBN? Thanks for your help.

    • Amy Collins says:

      Yes, I am afraid your best bet is to do a new edition of your book and get your own ISBN. This is actually not bad news. It often gives a small press a chance to relaunch their book with a fresh pub date and get the book back in the public eye.

  57. Margaret Meps Schulte (Strangers Have the Best Candy) says:

    I was planning to print two different editions of Strangers Have the Best Candy, with different designs and ISBNs, one on CS/Amazon and one on LS/IngramSpark. However, when I read the IngramSpark legal agreement this evening, it raised some red flags. They want exclusive rights to distribute the ebook, and I wasn’t even planning to do the ebook edition with them.

    Has anyone had their attorney review the legal agreements of these two companies?

    • Amy Collins says:

      You only give them exclusive rights to distribute your ebook IF YOU GIVE THEM YOUR EBOOK. You don’t have to give them the file, you can choose to not use them for distribution. But if you DO, then it is exclusive. So sign it and don’t worry…

  58. Melanie says:

    I’ve written a book and want to get it printed only, through Createspace. I don’t want to sell through Amazon or any other of Createspace’s network – I want to market and distribute it myself. I want total control of that process and do not want any sales through Amazon etc. Can this be done through Createspace? They are the cheapest printer I can find for small runs and quick turnaround but I don’t want them distributing my book at all.

    • Amy Collins says:

      Yes, you can use Create Space as a printer and not put the book up for sale through any of their channels. But they will still list and show your book as existing.

  59. Chris says:

    Amy, are IngramSpark and Lightning Source the same thing? I was encouraged to use Lightning Source, but they are steering me toward IngramSpark. Just want to make sure I’m not going to be missing anything by going with IngramSpark…

    • Amy Collins says:

      Yes, they are the same company. Lightning Source is now only for publishers with multiple titles. Ingram Spark is for single title authors and self published books.

  60. HI!

    I just started following this conversation. I am getting almost ready to publish and I found your really interesting post.

    Sounds like the best option is to go with both LS and CS. Better to upload first with LS and then with CS to avoid problems “between them”.

    However, some people suggest to use CS before to use it to make sure about the quality of the book with proof copies.

    My question is: Is CS really better for proof copies? Can I sign LS first but use CS to get the proof copies?

    Thanks so much for your post and all the comments. Really enlightening!

    • Amy Collins says:

      In my opinion, LSI (or Ingram Spark now…) is a MUCH better place to get proof or early copies. Their quality is better than CS. BUT YES, you can sign up for LSI and CS at the same time and get CS to send you copies. (CS is faster usually…)

  61. John says:

    You state that you should “Use Create Space for Amazon. They do a great job and take less money for each sale.” Less than Lightning Source? I believe that is incorrect. Create Space’s wholesale discount rate is higher than Lightning Sources, and is fixed at 40%. If you are granted a Lightning Source account, you can set your own discount rate, as low as 20%. Am I missing something?

    • Amy Collins says:

      You CAN put the discount at 20%, but then bookstores and libraries won’t order your book. Too keep all things equal, Amazon takes 40% to sell to their customers. LSI/Ingram Spark takes 55% to sell to THEIR customers. (Bookstores and Libraries…)

  62. Jack says:

    I can see your logic, but there are a couple of points I very much disagree with:

    1.) I think that for most of us, (especially those of us who are new to the game, and just starting out,) Amazon is your biggest priority, because more people buy from them than from anybody else. Bottom line: even if you ditched the bookstore market, you would still be fine.

    2.)I think it’s silly to make such an investment in print when nobody knows where it’ll end up. EBooks are definitely very popular, but not being clairvoyant, I cannot say with any certainty that they are taking over. But regardless, I think if a lot of your money is going into printing books, and then in a few years print disappears entirely, all that capital you put into printing your books will have been for nothing.

    What I say, in view of all that, is yes! do cheap out, because it just might save your bacon in the long run. And in the meantime, you can make serious money from Amazon alone owing to their near-domination of online shopping.

    • Randy says:

      I self published twenty years ago and bank borrowed to print over 5,000 of my first book – over 30 grand if memory serves. Housed tons in my living room then fulfilled orders. Fortunately, I did well. Since then and for many years, I’ve been with LSI. They POD my later book, distribute then send me a check quarterly for about 55% of list and $12 per year. No big upfront print fees, no warehousing my book at home, no managing distribution and collection and best of all, no downward profit-pressure from bookseller heavyweights. I will follow Amy’s advice and soon publish my next with both LSI and CreateSpace. Worldwide bookstore and library print is a huge market to ignore. Thanks all for the article and comments.

      • Jack says:

        What you have failed to understand, my friend, is that, since Amazon cut LSI off from distributing through them, LSI didn’t do a darned thing about it. Answer me this: would any print provider that truly had its customer’s best interests in mind allow themselves to be intimidated like that?

        And another thing: you would do well to remember that this is a cut-throat industry, which you must navigate carefully and judiciously. Part of that is choosing the lesser evil. I would be loony-bin material if I thought to give LSI all my business–when they can’t do such a simple thing as distribute their wares through the biggest and most critically important on-line market–just for some lousy library sales.

        So, that’s my two-cents. Think it over carefully before you waste your money on people who can’t do their job right.

  63. Finley Eversole says:

    I’ve been struggling with all this for the past 2 months after being screwed by a traditional publisher and then a self-publishing company. Four major books in 4 years and not a single sent earned; learned the hard way publishers’ contracts aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Book publishing lacks the integrity and doesn’t do the promotion of one’s books they did when I started out in the early 1960s.

    Here’s what I’ve found: Lightning Source ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT ALLOW A NEW START-UP PUBLISHER into their program. Period! So if I go with IngramSpark, even with its new 40% allowable discount, IS charges more than twice as much to publish the same book as Lightning Source, which probably explains why they are now shutting out new accounts. After granting a 40% discount, I’m left with earnings of 36 cents per book, compared with $7 on CreateSpace, even with a Amazon’s 55% discount.

    I want my own imprint, which apparently CreateSpace doesn’t allow. IngramSpark does, but there’s no money to be made, and if I use both with 2 ISBN numbers — one for each — does this not only add confusion to the market?

    My books are of major importance and include contributions from some of the world’s leading experts in various fields. But I’m beginning to wonder whether it is worth the trouble to publish any longer — and that’s with 8 books of my own still unpublished.

    Electronic publishing should have made everything easier, but I find it 10 time harder today to publish a book than 50 years ago, even thru self-publishing outlets.

    Anyone know how to solve these problems in a RATIONAL manner?

  64. Finley Eversole says:

    I’ve been struggling with all this for the past 2 months after being screwed by a traditional publisher than a self-publishing company. Four major books in 4 years and not a single sent earned. Book publishing lacks the integrity and don’t do the promotion of one’s books they did when I started out in the early 1960s.

    Here’s what I’ve found: Lightning Source ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT ALLOW A NEW START-UP PUBLISHER onto their site. Period! So if I go with IngramSpark, even with its new 40% allowable discount, IS charges more than twice as much to publish the same book that they charge under Lightning Source, which probably explains why they are now shutting out new accounts. After granting a 40% discount, I’m left with earnings of 36 cents per book, compared with $7 on CreateSpace, even with a Amazon’s 55% discount.

    I want my own imprint, which apparently CreateSpace doesn’t allow. IngramSpark does, but there’s no money to be made, and if I use both with 2 ISBN numbers — one for each — does this not only add confusion to the market?

    My books are of major importance and include contributions from some of the world’s leading experts in various fields. But I’m beginning to wonder whether it is worth the trouble to publish any longer — and that’s with 8 books of my own still unpublished.

    Anyone know how to solve these problems in a RATIONAL manner?

  65. JD says:

    I use Createspace and they now are able to get your book to libraries and into Ingrams content distribution. Give this, plus all the horror stories I’ve heard about Lightning Source that I’m really leery of getting involved with them directly.

  66. If I have an ISBN from CS, can I still sell my paperback at local indie bookstores? With my next book, I’ll definitely be buying my own ISBNs.

  67. Merle Temple says:

    Great thread here. I have parted ways with my publisher, and am thinking of going it alone. Question…if I publish with CreateSpace just to get my book back on Amazon quickly (the publisher pulled down theirs), does that in any way restrict me from printing my own books with another printer under the same ISBN (the ISBN is mine)? When you publish with CreateSpace, do you get a book to hold in your hand to preview for quality? I am thinking of signing with STL Distributors. The chains won’t stock my print book unless I have one. That was the problem with my publisher, no distributor. The book is doing well, word of mouth was very good, but after our big signings, that word of mouth caused people to go in stores to look for it, and they couldn’t find it. So, the wave of interest from our hard work died much too soon. So, I need the book on Amazon in a hurry, but I want to find a printer or a publisher to partner with for the books + distributor that Barnes and Noble and LifeWay, et al demand. Thanks much. Oh, I have the print ready files to work with and have already put my eBook back on Amazon and B & N. I used epub for both. I need to edit one or two items on In Design, who can help me with that? Thanks again, Merle

  68. Hanne Arts says:

    This article was great (really really helpful in my further quest). I wanted to publish with Amazon only, but now I have my doubts. I do, however, have one more question: how much does it cost to publish with some sort of basic package in LS?

    Thank you for this great resource!


  69. Larry H. says:

    Thank you for this great article. You answered so many questions, succinctly and with first-hand knowledge that I was having trouble getting answered!

  70. Kirkland Bailey says:

    Very helpful article! Thanks for posting it.

    It is my understanding that if I want to do both a hard and soft cover book, I would need a different ISBN for both – and a third for an e-book. Is this true?

    If so, how do I avoid the excellent point you made about the sales records not being view properly because of the separate ISBNs?

    • admin says:

      That is correct. One ISBN for your Hardcover, one for your paperback and one for your ebook. Book buyers know to look up both HC and PB sales, but ebook sales are not easily tracked yet….

  71. Having gratefully read all the above comments about publishing with CS and LSI, I’ve concluded that the best way to do it is this.

    1. Buy and use your own ISBNs – never use CS ISBNs.
    2. Always publish using your own publishing name.
    2. Submit to CS, first, for proof copies.
    3. When happy with the proof copies from CS, publish through CS for its Amazon coverage, but don’t use CS extended coverage.
    4. Once happy with CS, if desired and for Indie and Library coverage, and for better-produced copies and the extensive Ingram network, publish through LSI with a new ISBN (so as to be able to track sales as between CS and LSI).
    5. LSI is a more tortuous process but gives more credibility and expands coverage in many ways. Give a good discount so Indie book-sellers will stock copies.
    6. Publish on Kindle through CS, using another new ISBN. (Q. Why another ISBN? A. Because different ISBNs enable individual tracking of sales, because it’s an ebook, and possibly because the Kindle book may not contain all the diagrams, sidebar comments and maps in the hard-copy books. Certainly, having read some Kindle books where the maps eg of battles were impossibly small and couldn’t be enlarged, I have little faith in Kindle rendering complicated stuff properly and visibly. Though perhaps they’ve improved it by now. Another reason is that a different ISBN makes it easier to price the book differently)
    7. Obtain well-produced hard-copy books from LSI for personal sales to my astonished if not admiring public.
    8. Accept that royalties will vary according to whom you publish through and how much you discount. Bigger discounts to book-sellers may mean bigger sales which may compensate for lower royalties, for instance.

    Having read the checklist on http://www.newshelves.com/book-distribution-2/are-you-ready-for-distribution/ I realise that I may not be ready for what they offer. Unfortunately. Yet.
    Have I got this roughly correct?

  72. tracy says:

    I would like to use Lightning Source for my hard cover children’s picture book. I understand that would mean becoming a self-publisher. To what extent though do you legally & functionally have to be a self publisher? Do you have to form LLC, get tax ID, create website & email and mailing address for this entity on top of what I am doing as an author? Some threads on other sites have said you need only buy your ISBNs, but then what do you use for the tax part of the Lightning Source application and the government?
    If I do order from LS and have them ship my full order to me what happens if an Ingram order comes in. Where do they get books for that order? If they POD 2 books for example, won’t that cost more than the wholesale price?
    If I just decide to print elsewhere and sell only in gift shops and on my site, do I need an ISBN?

    I can’t find these answers anywhere. Hope you can help. Thanks.

    • Tracy,

      Here’s a couple of answers for you (I think!)

      Anyone can self-publish, you don’t need an LLC or DBA to do it, just publish under your own name, if that’s the route you want to take. I set up an LLC to give myself more options, and plan to publish other folks’ works there also (when I get all the bugs ironed out) and to give my works a publishing title, but it isn’t necessary (and setting up an LLC has some costs associated with it!)

      If you want to sell to distributors, etc., you need an ISBN. That’s how they track books and how they order ’em.

      Doesn’t answer all of your questions (I’m still trying to figure out the Lightning Source side too) but hope it helps ya!

      Nikki Bennett

  73. […] me. The CreateSpace AND Lightning Source is so Amazon doesn't jerk you around. Summed up here: why-you-need-lightning-source-and-createspace/ Zero Angel's War of the Ages Website: ApocalypseDesigns.com Blog: ZAWotA.blogspot.com […]

  74. Jamie says:

    I have a question. So my book was previously uploaded on CS with expanded distribution, I did use my own ISBNs that were purchased from Bowker. I finally got approved for my Lightning Source account but when I entered my ISBN, it told me that the ISBN was already in use. Can anyone tell me what the issue is?

    I am now removing the books from Createspace’s Expanded Distribution, do you think that it will go through LS now?

    • admin says:

      That is exactly the issue. CreateSpace USES LSI for its expanded distribution. Remove expanded distribution from your CS account. Then, call your customer service rep at LSI and explain the situation. He/she will be able to walk you through the approval process. Sometimes they will require a letter of ownership… we go through this a lot here at New Shelves; it takes a few attempts, but with patience, you can wind your way through it! Good luck!

      • Jamie says:

        Hi! I’m so thankful for your response! I removed my expanded distribution and contacted Createspace regarding removing my ISBN and here’s the response they sent:

        Our team has confirmed that when you deselect the Expanded Distribution channels they system will automatically be removed from Lightning Source within a few days.

        However, if you are wishing to set up the ISBN’s with Lightning Source in your own account directly through them, we would need to reach out to Lightning Source to notify them of this. Please let us know if this is what you are trying to do.

        Another author said that I shouldn’t tell Createspace about Lightning Source and vice versa, is this true? If I tell Createspace that that is what I wish to do, will they try to stop my account?

        Or, I guess I should just contact LS and then they will just handle everything?

        • Jamie says:

          I actually contacted my LS rep via email and explained that I owned the ISBNs. She told me to tell Createspace to send her an email letting her know that I have full rights and then she will email me after she’s transferred all the information to the account. I hope this helped anyone else who may have been experiencing this issue! Thanks again, admin!

  75. This is good advice and matches what I learned with my first book, Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff.

    Buy your own ISBN from Bowker (or, realistically, a group of 10 if you’re also doing ebooks so you also have ISBNs for the EPUB and Kindle editions).

    Sign up for Createspace and use them for their excellent prices on proof copies (also handy for creating review and Goodreads giveaway copies). Get your book looking great and prepare to build buzz. Do not use Createspace’s Extended Distribution.

    Sign up for Lightning Source (LSI) with the final version of your book now that you’ve done some proofing passes with cheaper copies from Createspace. Use LSI for reaching libraries and booksellers. Resign yourself to not making much money per copy through LSI and set the discount low enough that a bookseller will consider ordering from you. Bear in mind that LSI and Ingram or Baker & Taylor are both taking a cut out of that discount and that the bookseller also needs to cover their costs and make their profit in that slice. Once you add it up it’s easy to see why booksellers aren’t likely to even do special orders for something that’s only got a 25% discount, especially if it’s non-returnable.

    Offer the Kindle version through Amazon’s KDP program.

    Offer EPUB versions through Apple’s iTunes Connect and either (or both) Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press and Google’s Google Play. (Note: I have not yet published through the latter, but it is an alternative to the (in my experience) very low-selling Nook/BN.com world. If you want to reach a broader audience, it’s important to have a non-Kindle, non-iTunes way for people to buy your EPUB edition, particularly if part of your audience prefers DRM-free books.

    My second book, The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level, is full of great photography and, while the color print-on-demand (POD) quality from both Createspace and LSI was very much better than I expected, it’s not yet “coffee-table book quality” and my partner and I have decided to use offset press printing. We still used Createspace for proof and review copies.

  76. daythinguyen@yahoo.com says:

    since i would like to go the LS route, I am wondering, for prices to be wholesale, how much do large wholesalers have to buy to get the wholesale discount? this will help me to determine the price I should put for the book to even turn a dollar profit.

  77. daythinguyen@yahoo.com says:

    I’m am trying to publish my children’s book. I was curious and interested in going with both CS and LS. I’m a little confused though because you said that it’s not a good idea to have two ISBN for the same book which I agree with, but If I go for the extended distribution through CS, doesn’t it mean that I have to remove my ISBN from the book before they will accept it for extended distribution so that they can use their own ISBN? or do I just leave my ISBN?

    • admin says:

      If you are going with LSI as well as CS, they you do not need extended distribution with CS. Do not sign up with extended distribution with CS, and LSI will take care of everything they would have done and more.

      CreateSpace USES LSI for their extended distribution. That is why they require you to use their ISBN, they are not allowed to sign up another companies ISBN with LSI.

  78. Rachael says:

    Question: Is there a benefit of using Lightening Source for my eBooks? Or is it better to just go straight to the source-Kindle, Nook, etc?

    And, do I HAVE to have separate ISBNs for each type of book (paperback vs. eBook)? What about different platforms of eBook-do I need separate ISBNs for them as well?

  79. Jack says:

    Would there still be a conflict of interest if I published with LS after CS? I’m thinking of using LS in a couple of years as a long-term plan, but because of how low-cost CS is, I’ve decided to make a splash with them. (Lower overhead to start with, in my opinion, would be a wise move for a small publisher.)

  80. Daniel Grant says:

    Great post, really useful. Is there an order I should do this? I was going to publish with CS first then LS after that. I did send LS an email saying my plan was to do exactly this and this is what they replied

    Please note: if you use CreateSpace and upload your ISBN with them, we cannot use your book. Since we work with CreateSpace this would be considered a conflict of Interest and we would not be able to use that title.

    Is that true, would they even know if I used CS in the US if I published with them once CS was up and running?

    Also if LS distributes to Amazon US would Cs override that listing or would there be a conflict as two distributors of the same book using the same ISBN?

    • admin says:

      Okay… apparently this needs to be stated, but you DID NOT HEAR THIS FROM ME!


      Then upload your file to CreateSpace. It is not your problem if Amazon chooses to fulfil orders from CreateSpace instead of Lightning Source… right?

      To use both, you have to have purchased your own ISBNs from Bowker… don’t use any third party ISBNs. Ever.

  81. Randi Kreger says:

    When I published someone else I controlled everything. Self publishing means choosing everything and not depending on some firm that people seem to call their “publisher.” Hire your own cover designer. For God’s sake, don’t ever pay for someone to do you book and then buy it back. That’s like paying for the privilege of going to Target and then paying for your items. (I don’t know if either of these people do that, but it’s an important point.) If you don’t want to run a business, don’t self-publish.

    I sold the book I publisher to a larger publisher when it became popular and it has sold 70K copies.

  82. I’ve started a new small independent publishing company, getting ready to launch our 1st book. CreateSpace, as you mention, is substabntially cheaper than LS, and I’ve used them before on a non-fiction I self-published. They do a nice job. The problem I see with printing through LS (using my ISBN, not one from CS) is, at the wholesaler discount, which I beliecve is 55%, I’ve got to price the book at $2 more than I really want, to make even $1 on a wholesale sale. At $15.95, I’ll net about $7.15 for a wholesale book costing close to $6.50 at LS, but about $5.75 at CS.

    So I wonder, why can’t you contach B & T directly to get them to carry your book, even if printed by CS? Are they unwilling to sell books printed by CS. As I remember, if you use expanded distribution with CS, and their ISBN, the books are handled by BOTH Ingram and B & T.

  83. I have already published with CreateSpace and have thier ISBN number. Can I get another number from Boker? and then use it for Lightening? What should I do now? My book is a cookbook, “From Jefferson’s Table”, that I hope to sell to the Gift shops and Museum shops in the historic venues that relate to Thomas Jefferson. I would love some good advice.

    • admin says:

      Hi Sherry,

      It is not a good idea to have the same book with two ISBNs. You want the benefits of sales tracking and if you have two ISBNs, you are splitting the sales figures being reported. Also, it is confusing for the consumer. I suggest you buy your own ISBNs from Bowker and upload the file to LSI, then upload the cookbook with the new ISBN to CS as well. Then cancel your old book with the CS ISBN. You can ask CS to move the reviews and data over to the new book. It will be the cleanest and best way to get the benefits you are looking for.

      • Jeff Bilman says:

        Being a middle-grade author most of my book sales come from hand-to-hand sales at schools, so I don’t hit the sales tracking (as far as I’m aware) as I’m purchasing my own books in bulk to re-sell. This is a great post though and I am considering Lightning Source.

  84. I’d pretty much decided not to use either of these. Thanks for showing me how it can work.

  85. I found createSpace an easy and cheap way to get my book out but soon found that most of the high-end book stores avoid ‘self published’ authors because there are so many poor books out there. Amy’s recommendations are right on the money. Start with CS to learn how to get your book out. Get your own ISBN and then move to Lightning Source for Baker and Taylor listing and all the other benefits.


    • Just a thought based on personal experience: having a book listed with Baker and Taylor or Ingram (regardless of who printed it) will not guarantee bookstores will carry your book. I authored two books published by a small traditional press. One book went into a second edition. Local bookstores carried these titles for a couple of months when they were new, but soon dropped them, and returns were a problem.

      Over 95% of sales, even with an established publisher, have come from Amazon orders or my personal efforts. I have sold a truckload of books, hand-to-hand.

      My experience is only one dot on the chart, so make of it what you will. It has certainly tempered my personal expectations.

  86. If you use both Create Space and Lightning Source do you need two ISBNs for the same book?

    • admin says:

      Hi Robert, Good questions, but all you need is one ISBN for both printers. You are not publishing two different books, you are are using two different printers.

      • Russel Davis says:

        Not sure about that…

        The problem is when you get an ISBN from CreateSpace they are the publisher of record. Technically, as the publisher they also get to dictate who prints the copy. Potentially, using a CS ISBN and handing it over to LSI could cause some legal problems. I’m sure it’s happened where someone has done this and not got called on it. But a few copies here and there are not going to get noticed. If, however, the book takes off and is being produced in quantity at LSI with a CS ISBN that could easily show on the radar screen. Amazon does have a history of protecting its product and would most likely go after it.

        It’s not unlike something we have published under our imprint and the author takes the files to another printer and runs off a couple dozen copies where we do not get compensation for the sales.

        • Russel Davis says:

          Apologies, I pressed the trigger before finishing the thought. The above assumes the ISBN in question is from CS. Using your own allows you to take it anywhere you want. Either, both, or anywhere else.

          • admin says:

            Good point Russel, I should have been more clear. I was assuming that the ISBNs would be purchased from Bowker. Good catch!

      • When I published my three books through CS, I paid an extra $10 per book to have my own ISBN. So the publisher of my book is not shown as CreateSpace, but instead, Ink Bleed Books.

        I believe that this custom ISBN service offered by CS still goes through Bowker. If this is the case, does anyone know if I can use this custom ISBN I purchased through CS with Lightning Source as well?

        Thank you for your help!

        • Charlotte Ingham says:

          Given that Bowker charge $100+ for an isbn, it seems strange you are able to get it for an extra $10?

          Obviously I would rather do this but not sure if it amounts to the same thing?!

    • Joe Ross says:

      Get a separate ISBN number for each printer. The ISBN directs a retailer to a specific source for POD books. Even for e-books, when I do them, I assign an ISBN for Smashwords (all formats) and another ISBN for Kindle direct.

  87. Well though out arguments and you presented a very good case for each side.

    Sam Hendricks, author Fantasy Football Guidebook and upcoming novel “Just One More…”

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