CreateSpace vs. Ingram Spark

Any of you following along will know I am trying to self-publish a Print-On-Demand (POD) genealogy reference book on my family in particular. I had decided to use Amazon’s CreateSpace because so many people suggested it and it has been around a while. What I found was that because of the length of my book, I could NOT use CreateSpace (more on that below), and so I went over to Lightning Source, another POD company people had suggested. Lightning Source’s POD arm for small or self-publishers is called IngramSpark.

The following comparison of the two resources is necessarily incomplete, as I could not complete the process with CreateSpace and have not yet completed the process with IngramSpark. But it’s what I have found so far.

CreateSpace is very easy to use. However, I found their Submission Guidelines to be missing or misleading in key areas. When reading how to format your book’s interior, it tells you the gutter margin for 3 different pages count ranges, all the way up to 1,000 pages. What they don’t tell you anywhere in the Submission Guidelines (it can be found elsewhere on the website) is that there are maximum page limitations based on trim size and color vs. black and white options. Based on their Page Count table, the maximum number of pages anywhere is 828 (not 1,000) and if you choose to do full color, 480 is your limit. My full-color book, unfortunately, is 508 pages. Due to the nature of the content, there is no way I can cut 30 pages out. Which is why I went to IngramSpark. (I did confirm with CreateSpace customer service that I was correct and I COULD NOT print this book with them.)

IngramSpark is also not difficult to use. However, it will require more money for you to get started. At this point in the process, I have run across several fees:

  • $49 one-time set-up fee per book (waived if you have a 50 book drop order within a certain amount of time after setting up your book)
  • $11 annual distribution fee (if you are simply printing for your family and do not want distribution, this fee is waived)
  • ISBN fee. IngramSpark requires you provide your own ISBN number. You can purchase one for $125, or you can purchase batches of them for less per unit through Bowker. CreateSpace allows you to either use an Amazon ID number (not the same as an ISBN) or to purchase an ISBN through them (I think it was $10) or to provide your own.

So it is more expensive to use IngramSpark. The question you need to ask yourself is: Can I make my book fit CreateSpace’s limitations in a way that will not compromise the book’s quality? In my case, because I have a lot of photos and documents and charts, the answer was “no.”

The actual interior design process is the same–upload a PDF to their website. I will say that IngramSpark’s gutter margins are MUCH smaller than CreateSpace’s, probably due to manufacturing differences, which allows me to have larger photos and charts.

I have not used the cover designer for either system yet, so cannot know how they compare. I also don’t know about the quality of the final product or the tracking and royalty payment facets, since I haven’t finished the book yet.

Having to switch to IngramSpark has set me back, because with the much smaller gutter margins I need to re-size all my photos, graphs, etc. The text, of course, was easy to readjust. Still, I am pleased that I have an outlet to get this book out there in the way I envisioned it, instead of having to present it in a non-optimal way to force it into CreateSpace’s limitations.

I am slowly exploring this self-publishing world, both in ebook and now POD. It’s a fascinating journey! I will bring more info on IngramSpark after I have completed the process and have more to share.

Have you done POD? What has your experience been?

GoosesQuill FB


  1. Given my limited experience with IS (in which I looked into publishing and didn’t have enough resources to do so), and after publishing three with CS, I would have done anything, in your position, to stay with them. Split it up into 2 books, change the type size on some information, anything.

    You must have an incredible amount of info on your family, so good on you there. I have a manuscript on the Moores done a generation ago, and the person did a nice job tracing all the people who joined the family.

    • This particular version of the book is for my family’s eyes only, as it has information on living generations. I do intend to do another, shorter version for public
      consumption (minus the private details and pictures) and if I can I will probably go to CS for that one, if only to compare the quality of the books for the future. The only hesitation I have with that is that IS has an option to make it available in hardback (which may be more appealing to libraries and the like), which I don’t think CS does.

  2. Thanks!

  3. Hi there…from the time you started the process with Ingram Spark until it was printed, can you give me a sense of how long it took? I’m now trying to determine a publication date, but don’t know if I’ll get hung up on wait time with IS. Thanks!

  4. Colin – Once you upload your files, it’s usually 2-3 BUSINESS days for you to get the eproof. Once you okay it, it’s ready to print/ship within hours. If you want to be safe, just estimate a week from upload. Of course, if you want a print proof, you have to order it and wait to get it, so that adds time.



  1. […] used Ingram Spark for my POD book. The quality is great and everyone has been pleased with the book. And I got a […]

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