IngramSpark/CreateSpace Comparison

I spent a little time last night thinking over the CS (CreateSpace) vs. IS (IngramSpark) issue. Yesterday’s post was, if not vague, rushed. This comparison is for a 240 pg 5.5 X 8.5 perfect bound paperback on creme paper. All text, no illustrations.

When it comes to the upload process, CS edges out IS. Ingram has some extra steps and confusing wording in places, and finding answers can be a chore. In my experience, file approvals occur quicker through CS.

CS is free to upload, as often as you need or want. IS charges $49 per title, with $25 for revisions. They do offer discounts or free uploads, with use of a promo code. You have to hunt around and occasionally lurk in writer forums to discover them.

Cover templates. I haven’t used CS’s cover wizard, preferring to use the one piece template. It’s easy. Go to the website, feed in your info, and download. IS…enter your info (more than you need to for CS) and they’ll e-mail you. Oh joy, yet another extra step. Let me log-in, open up that e-mail, and download. CS provides a PNG file that opens in RGB. IS provides a PDF that opens in CMYK, has extra information that cannot be deleted, and is a bitch to work on if you use a laptop. Which I do. I spend more goddamn time zooming and reducing to make an IS cover. CS wins this round.

Cover upload. CS accepts RGB files and converts to CMYK, often with good results. They accept regular PDF, PDF/X-1a, and PDF/X-3a generated by either Adobe or Serif (Affinity Photo). IS might accept those formats. I bought Affinity Photo to avoid the subscription for Photoshop and used it in a test case with CS. The cover turned out great. I didn’t want to risk it with IS though; they’re so specific about those Adobe created files, so I had to get Photoshop, which is fine, I was familiar with Photoshop Elements, so there was less of a learning curve.

Proof orders. This one is a little difficult to judge because of errors made on my part. Then again, if IS had clearer instructions, worded so a normal human wouldn’t have to twist their brain into a pretzel to understand (I exaggerate, but you get my drift), I wouldn’t have made the mistake in the first place. I think IS took a little longer, but the weekend factored into it. However, don’t send an e-mail on Sunday saying the order shipped when it didn’t until the end of the following day, Monday. In IS’s favor, though, they provide tracking information (I opted for 2 day delivery), something CS doesn’t do. Packaging is similar. I’ll call this a draw.

Proofs. I’ve read a lot about IS being the superior product. In fairness, I may have sent CS a file with a different color profile, US web coated swop v2 (300% TAC) versus IS’s mandatory 240% TAC. The color on the CS book is a little deeper, a little bluer. The IS version has a bit more gray, so it’s duller. It’s a noticeable difference when laying one book partially atop another, but standing on a bookshelf, comparing the spines, it’s negligible. And speaking of spines…

The IS book’s spine is narrower, due to the thinner paper stock. I was surprised. I’ve also read that the interior text is much darker, hence, it looks so much better. True, the text is darker, but to my eyes, it looks very much like printing out a sheet of paper on your laser printer. The paper isn’t very creamy either. I’m not saying I want a yellowed ivory type of creme, but IS leans more toward gray-white. Of course, this could change, depending on supplier, stock, etc. For some odd reason, the outer margins of the interior in the IS copy looked too wide. I compared to the CS copy and measured; it’s a bizarre optical illusion.

I conducted a spur-of-the-moment stability test. I held each book in my hand by the bottom right corner and snapped my wrist back and forth several times. The IS copy made a noticeable sound and moved rather freely — in other words, it was a bit flimsy and felt cheap. The CS book had a quieter and deeper sound, when detectable. The CS book is weightier and feels more substantial in the hand. It feels like CS uses a heavier cover stock paper as well; perhaps that’s why they can accommodate 300% ink coverage?

I can’t comment on IS’s hard cover book quality. That’s down the road for me, when I publish my novel(s).

At the moment, when it comes to paperbacks, I prefer CreateSpace’s upload process and end product. I do not, however, care for their expanded distribution. It’s lousy, quite frankly, and that’s why I started with IngramSpark. I’ll have to make adjustments, of course, for each platform. It’s definitely been a learning experience.

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