Any author diving into the world of print-on-demand publishing encounters the same dilemma. CreateSpace or Ingram Spark? Sure, there are other options, but these days the evaluation typically starts with a side by side comparison of the two big players.
There is no definitive answer for every project, but there are clear pros and cons to both providers. And there are many industry professionals who warn of downsides of picking one over the other.
CreateSpace is part of Amazon, making it the 600 pound gorilla in the room. Although evidence is vague, many seasoned professionals will testify that Amazon treats independent books handled by outside distributors differently than books handled by CreateSpace.
CreateSpace also makes it an easy default choice by offering an author-friendly system, including better returns for authors and no fees for uploading a book or making changes. And there is no avoiding the significance of the relationship with Amazon. Unless you have a strong (and extensive) marketing campaign planned, the vast majority of your sales will be through Amazon. A direct tie with the world’s biggest bookseller makes sense
But there is widely held belief that bookstores won’t even consider books handled by CreateSpace. Many believe this a myth, but it only makes sense. Why should they support a competitor stomping out their livelihood? Frankly, a no-CreateSpace policy would be a natural reaction from any bookstore.
Authors are caught in the middle. They simply want to expose their books to the largest possible audience, as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Ingram Spark has the relationship with book stores and some will testify that the print quality is better through Ingram, although that doesn’t seem to be true as much as it was in the past (when Ingram’s primary outlet was Lightning Source, which was difficult to manage for small publishers.)
In many cases, the answer is simple – use both. Use Smashwords. Use your brother-in-law’s new blog. Use whatever it takes to reach the audience. It’s more of a hassle to use both CreateSpace and Amazon, and costs increase, but a professional needs to cover all the bases.
But every case is different and it is always worth exploring the nuances of the various options.
Here are links to a couple of articles that explore the specifics in more depth.