Ingram Spark vs Amazon CreateSpace

I have just published Battlefield Doc: Memoirs of a Korean War Combat Medic using both Amazon CreateSpace and Ingram Spark, with the same ISBN. Why? Only because this book is historical and should be in libraries. Libraries would prefer to buy at wholesale price from Ingram, versus buying at list price (or other less favorable price) from Amazon. To better understand these publishing options, see my Resources page for articles on Ingram Spark, Amazon CreateSpace, and using both Spark and CreateSpace together.

For most books, using CreateSpace alone should be fine since most readers will be individuals buying through Amazon, and not libraries and especially not book stores nationwide. CreateSpace is easier to use than Ingram Spark. It asks for a lot of information, but you can start creating your book profile and save it to return later when you have more info. My book interior file uploaded and came back with notes about possible fixes required. I sent the notes to my book designer who thought nothing was amiss. I gave CreateSpace permission to “fix” the file as it saw fit. The online proof looked fine and I ordered a print copy proof to make sure all was well. It arrived quickly, about four business days later. The 250-page print proof cost $7.32, including shipping.

Ingram Spark also asked for a lot of information about the book. You can also start the profile, save, and come back to it. Spark found problems with a number of the photos in the book – the markings looked scary to me and I did not understand the meaning of the notes. I sent them to my book designer who again said nothing was amiss. I gave Spark permission to “fix” the file and the online proof looked fine. I ordered a print proof copy and it took a few days longer to arrive than the CreateSpace proof, as I remember. The print proof cost $9.77, including standard shipping. At this point, Spark also charged me the $49 for file setup. The fee would be waived later if I bought 50 copies of the book.

How did the print proofs compare? The blue sky on the cover of the Spark book has a gray tone to it, while the sky is lighter and brighter blue on the CreateSpace cover. The original cover file has a bright blue sky. My book designer liked the grayer (softer) tone and my husband liked the brighter sky. I think they both look good, just a little different. Greens and blues are more likely to come out looking a little different than you think, and in my opinion it’s hard to go wrong with blue shades while certain green shades can be unappealing, so beware. The box of 50 books I subsequently ordered from CreateSpace had a slightly grayer tone to the sky, but not as grayed as the Spark proof—all depends on the printing location and machine used, I guess.

The interior of the books were different, too. The Spark book print was sharp and dark, while the CreateSpace print was softer. Not a big issue, though. But, the (black and white) photos in the CreateSpace book came out darker while the Spark book photos were lighter. Some old photos actually looked better and clearer with Spark, but the one hand drawn illustration done in black pen came out too pale. It was scanned at 300 dpi, but should have been scanned at higher dpi to look good through Spark. The Liz Taylor postcard came out too dark with CreateSpace. Can’t win!

DSCN7741

DSCN7742

DSCN7744

So, if your book has photos, then it’s important to note that Spark images may come out lighter, at least with black and white images. This is good or bad depending on quality of the photos or drawings. Maybe scan at higher dpi for Spark. Blue tones on the cover can vary. And one more thing, the covers of CreateSpace books stay popped up a lot more than Spark books do once they have been opened wide by readers.

DSCN7745

So what did I do? I ordered boxes of books from CreateSpace because I needed them fast for a book signing, I liked the darker hand-drawn illustration, and the cost was less than ordering from Spark. But, libraries will be happy to order from Spark and may discover the book on their own because of the Ingram catalog listing ($12/title per year), I think the quality is a little better, and the book appears more professional thanks to wholesale discount and returnable status.

Battlefield Doc books

Box of CreateSpace books

 

By the way, the book signing went great! Still need more reviews on Amazon (and Goodreads), so if you have read the book, please leave an honest review.

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About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), and cats
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7 Responses to Ingram Spark vs Amazon CreateSpace

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    On Chapter 19! Interesting comparison. Regarding photo inclusion, do costs go up with more or higher rez photos or is it just a cost per page?

  2. Sharon Lippincott says:

    Color ones? Can you do individual color pages in Spark?

  3. I must have read an old blog of yours … I am new to self publishing and have a non-fiction book in full colour I want to print in Hardcover but I am unable to find this option with Spark. Does anyone publish with them and have hardcover? I am in Australia and from all of my research I feel Spark will be my best (get it around the world) option for advertising and availability etc. Is this right?

    • Spark is fairly new yet and not so many authors do hardcover because of the expense. I do not know anyone who has done hardcover with them. But, you can always try it and see how the proof looks – and let us know! Spark is likely your best option as a self publisher to get wide distribution.

  4. Ellen says:

    Not really on topic, but because I’ve read some of your older posts maybe you know the answer to this. If your book is listed on Amazon through IngramSpark, can you activate the ‘Look Inside’ feature without becoming a seller through Seller Central? I’m finding it all very confusing. I don’t want to set up another account, just to enable the ‘Look/Search Inside’ feature. And I don’t really want to put the book up via CreateSpace.I’m from Australia and it’s better going through IngramSpark and keeping it all through the one place. Thanks in advance for your comments.

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