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Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark

Because Amy Collins and I live just a few miles apart, we’re able to meet regularly for tea and shop talk. Today’s guest post came from a conversation last week over a cup of Earl Grey and a vanilla chai latte.  Amy is the former director of sales at Adams Media and special sales director for its parent company, F+W Media. In 2006, she started the successful book sales and marketing company, New Shelves Books. Over the years, she has sold to Barnes & Noble, Target, Costco, Borders, Books-A-Million, and Wal-Mart and become a trusted partner and recommended sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the industry. In the past 20 years, Amy has sold more than three million books into the bookstore, library, and chain store markets for small and mid-sized publishers.

Why you need both CreateSpace and IngramSpark

By Amy Collins

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 IngramSpark


  • 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.
  • 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.

Do you still have a question about this? Ask Amy in a comment. 

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  1. If a book is already published through CreateSpace with an ISBN provided through them can the same book get another ISBN through IngramSpark?

      1. Hi Amy, so the same book needs different ISBN numbers, not just for different formats like paperback, audio, or hardback, but also for different publishers? But would the publisher be the author or IngramSpark? If it’s the author, does the author use their own name or must they form a company to be the publisher? Thank you!

        1. The author is the person who writes the book (you). The publisher/distributor is the person/company that prints and distributes the book (IngramSpark). The published, is the published or record (owner of the ISBN number).

          As an author you can write under your own name or a pen name, there is no need or requirement to incorporate or even have a DBA. If you are being your own publisher as well you can do it as yourself, or under a business name. The business can be incorporated or not, which ever you prefer, is appropriate in your jurisdiction, and as suits your overall business goals.

          You only need another ISBN number to publish a book in the same format with IngramSpark that you’ve already published through CS if you used a CS ISBN number. If you used your own ISBN, you can print the book with IngramSpark (or any other printer/distributer) using the same ISBN number.

        2. The same file and same ISBN for both companies. The publisher should be the name the author gave Bowker as the publisher. Ingram Spark is the printer and distributor. Same goes for CreateSpace.

          1. Thank you for that clarification. I have run into some authors that are using a different ISBN number on each platform for the same eBook, so was curious why would someone do that, what would the advantage be?

      2. But I don’t think you can re-publish the same book title with two different ISBNs, two different publishers.

        I would love to be wrong, and have the option of just buying a Bowker $99 ISBN in addition to my own imprint ‘cheap as I was so broke and didn’t think I needed more’ purchased $10 Createspace ISBN.

    1. If you got your ISBN from CreateSpace, then your ISBN belongs to them I am afraid. You can only use the same ISBN if you purchased the ISBN from Bowker or your Country’s entitiy.

  2. I have tried it both ways and I am very happy with Ingram Spark. In reality Ingram Spark is not terribly expensive. I have two books. The first I did through Create Space with a Create Space ISBN. The second I did with Ingram Spark with my own ISBN and their distribution. I also added the second book to Create Space carrying my own ISBN without Create Space’s expanded distribution.

  3. One other strong reason to go for both, I have published two of my own novels and two books for other authors through Ingram and during the holidays and other busy periods, buying the books through Amazon is a 2-4 week wait, even though Ingram POD can fill the order for Amazon in a day or two. Last Christmas one of our titles was listed as “not currently available” on Amazon, but the buyer had no trouble getting it in two days from Barnes & Noble.com. I’ve heard from others that it is a way Amazon will “punish” an author for not using Create Space.

    1. A way round this is to order some copies of your book from IngramSpark, and send them into Amazon under the ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ program. Whether Amazon have stock of their own or not, your book will be shown ‘in stock’ all the time Amazon FBA have copies in hand. There are other advantages to doing this, such as being able to offer signed copies at a premium, making a larger margin oftentimes, etc.

  4. Thanks for sharing Sandra. That was so the perfect moment for this to hit. I was just working with a client and trying to explain why the CS route would actually NOT get his book to B&N, and thus why we use LS as well as CS. Always nice to have reinforcement.

  5. How difficult is it to replace and buy your own ISBN numbers for books already published through CreateSpace? Or is this something that is not necessary? I currently have four books published through CreateSpace and NOT HAPPY with the slow sales. So I will unite with Ingram ASAP with hopes of increasing visibility and sales. Thanks for the assist and please advice and respond when able.

  6. This is why I went with Lulu Press. I get a lower price on my POD orders, no minimum order amount, my own ISBN (they have a discount set up with Bowker so I didn’t pay the full price), and global distribution (Amazon, B&N, etc). Print quality’s better than it was when I first published with them back in ’07. And royalties are higher. May still use LighteningSource at some point (when I can afford to) but I do like the services offered by Lulu Press. Don’t know if having my book with Lulu will get me into bookstores and libraries, though.

  7. Amy makes good points, and I agree with most of what she said. I use Ingram for hardback books and some paperbacks.

    But she did not address the prospect of “returns” — i.e., books returned by bookstores. If you accept the returns, Ingram charges a return fee and deducts the publisher compensation, then ships you a box of books. If you select the “destroy” option, the books are destroyed, but you, as publisher, are still charged for the printing. Either way it’s a loss, and if you have a low volume of sales, it can eat up the profits.

  8. Excellent and I was wondering this exact thing a couple of months ago when publishing via Createspace and got to the ‘distribution channels’ part.

    I have my own imprint, not Createspace’s free ISBN, but it is the $10 Custom ISBN.

    Now I am wondering if I can use IngramSpark. I would think yes, as I am the publisher of record (is that how you describe ‘imprint’) – not Createspace though via Createspace’s POD services I have limited distribution as did not purchase a universal ISBN directly through Bowkers.


    1. I guess I cannot. Re-read the information on Createspace, “This ISBN can only be used with the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.”.

      So even though I have my own imprint for the book, and supposedly that makes me the ‘publisher on record’ – Createspace controls my publishing options.

      Live and learn – I sell a book or two via Amazon Kindle, keep the price low for e-book (99 cents) so anyone can purchase who wants to read it (paperback $9.70) and have a blog about the topic.

      All good. But glad to understand this better now.

    2. I am afraid you cannot use an ISBN you purchased from CS and go any where else. ISBNs cannot be “sold” unless from the legal entity designated to sell them… Bowker. The Imprint may be named after you, but the ISBN and the Imprint name is still registered at Bowker as CreateSpace.

  9. This is so timely for me, Sandy and Amy! I am reformatting my Create Space kid lit book for Ingram Spark in order to enable the spine printing required by my local library and Indie bookstore for acquisition. (CS has a 100 page minimum for spine print; IS prints author/ title on the spine at 48 pages, which is a reachable length for my beginning chapter books.)

    I find IS harder than Create Space to figure out, having more hoops to jump through. Plus, IS charges for book set up and subsequent edits once published. IS is still worth the effort for getting into more marketing channels, but I wish it were an easier process.

  10. Would you recommend purchasing the bar codes along with the ISBN at Bowker? I heard you could make the bar codes for free online, but not sure how to do it.

      1. Does the barcode have to have the price in it? Also, I have a professionally developed cover. Will the IS cover creator still work like that?

  11. Thank you for sharing formatting information with Ed Ellis. I teach a writers’ workshop and college level writing classes. Very few of the students have any desire to DO any formatting themselves; therefore, your information will be very helpful. Most feel that Createspace is too hard. While I prefer to go the agent,publisher route myself, I know many self publishing authors who will now have a choice in self publication. Tammie Diehl

  12. I’m so confused. I had heard the best plan was to use CreateSpace for Amazon and then use IS for everything else. But the IS folks say they won’t carve out Amazon. It’s all or none. ????

  13. Amy,

    Thanks for making it clear why authors should use both Create Space and Ingram Spark. I will definitely share this with clients/subscribers who are too often tempted to make choices based on just the cheapest alternative without thinking of the outcomes.

  14. Amy, Thank you for this article! I am a new Indie author planning to publish my literary, historical novel in hardcover (via IS) as well using CreateSpace for POD on Amazon and Ingram Spark for expanded distribution. I very much want to see my book in libraries (particularly) and in bookstores. My question relates to pricing and discounts given to Wholesalers.

    My novel is almost 600 pages long, so in order to keep retail price competitive, I cannot offer the 55% discount that, I believe, is usually given to wholesalers like Ingram Spark, (so they can turn around and offer 40% discount to libraries and booksellers). I will only be able to offer a 20% discount (which I think is their minimum?) Will this pretty much pre-empt my book being promoted (by me and/or IS) to libraries and bookstores? Hope my question is clear!

  15. Hi Amy

    Thank you for your valuable information.

    If one self-publishes on CreateSpace is there any problem using another POD for the same book?

    Also, can you give some more info about obtaining your own ISBN? We used the CreateSpace ISBN purely because we are new to the publishing world and don’t understand the ISBN process or the advantages and disadvantages of having one’s own. Can you share some more info on this topic or a link as to where to learn more about it?

    Many thanks


  16. Thanks so much, this post is really timely. I’ve been trying to get set up at Ingram Spark. I know I need to do it. Although I also use Create Space, I’ve got my own ISBNs and I’m all set.

    Ingram told me that in order to use their service I must sign a “Title Transfer” contract. Have any of you encountered this? I find the contract confusing and daunting, and was almost angry with the vague and useless answers I got from customer service. As author, owner and publisher, I’m not inclined to transfer my titles to anyone.


    1. I am having the same problem. I’ve had thorough and responsive help from IngramSpark, but I’m still frustrated. What I’ve learned thus far is that because I checked the “Expanded Distribution” box in Createspace, IngramSpark now has my metadata in their database. Even if I now uncheck that box in Createspace, IngramSpark supposedly can’t remove the metadata for my ISBN — which would allow me to distribute with both Createspace and IngramSpark/LS. They are demanding a full title transfer, which means that ALL fulfillment for my book, even when sold through Amazon, will go through Ingram. My whole reason for going with IngramSpark is so that I can set a higher wholesale discount rate to make it more attractive for booksellers (I’m currently embarking on a campaign to book stores). But there’s no way to set a different discount for Amazon vs. other booksellers in IngramSpark, so … if I do the title transfer for my intended purpose, then I get way less per Amazon sale. And if I don’t, then I will have a harder time getting book stores on board.

    2. Petrea & Mark, did you resolve this issue?

      I was concerned about the same thing, having initially been unable to get Ingram Spark to accept Croaked, Book 1 in my Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery series, because its ISBN was already in use. I tried unchecking CS’s Expanded Distribution box (no luck), read contradictory info online, & finally called both Ingram Spark & Create Space for answers. Amazingly, they both confirmed the good news: all an author/publisher needs to do to move an existing title out of CS’s expanded distribution into Spark’s global distrib. is fill out & return the Spark “Title Transfer Responsibility” form. No re-uploading cover &/or interior files, no re-proofing, no re-waiting for days or weeks! Spark immediately takes over sales to (& royalties from) bookstores & online retailers, as well as libraries that order through Ingram. (Libraries can still order from Amazon through Baker & Taylor, but it’s more circuitous & costly.) Amazon (=online) sales of the transferred title, including sales through its CreateSpace store, stay as they were, with CS.

      The 2 small drawbacks is that Amazon’s reported sales of that title will no longer reflect sales to bookstores; & for bookstores to buy, you really do have to bite the bullet & opt for the 55% discount.

  17. For the ISBN, if I provide my own, can I use separate ones for Ingram and create spac if they are the same format (EG print) to avoid the problems above?

  18. There is a third option. FeedARead uses Ingram Spark for POD and distribution. Your book will feature on their website and in their mailings to wholesalers/libraries/bookshops. They also include ISBN in their package and provide bar-code on the cover. I have published one of my books through them recently and will report results here in due course.

  19. If an author uses her own isbn, then will both createspace and ingram/spark be printing the same book with the same isbn?
    Also, another commenter mentioned feedaread. Did you have anything to say about this suggestion.
    Finally is it possible to consult with you personally?

  20. I have almost the same question as Leah. My small publisher has the ISBN number now but I have 7 of my own to choose from.

  21. I have published the same book in two different sizes. The landscape version through IngramSpark and the square 8.5×8.5 through KDP (Createspace). Both books have a free ISBN given to me by Canada.I have just finished approving the proofs on both sites but have not gone public yet.

    Will Costco purchase books through Ingramspark? Or do they only use specific distributors? I am aware of the local opportunities to sell in-store, but not how to contact the Book Buyer or where they purchase from.

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