The differences (however slight) between CreateSpace and Lightning Source paperbacks

Have you worried yourself sick over which one of these companies to pick as your PoD? Well, the good news is that there’s no need to stress – if you are planning to publish a fiction novel without graphics (as in the case of my book), then, in my opinion, one is as good as the other.

I have now published with both, mainly to:

  1. Save on shipping costs. When I run Goodreads giveaways, I can now send a book to the winner directly from either publisher, depending on which option is cheaper. I also get to order cheaper, locally printed copies for my promotional mayhem in Australia.
  2. Lightning Source allows a “return” option, which means I stand a chance of having my book ordered by bookstores, even though I take a risk of them returning my books at my expense.

Publishing with both was extremely easy, although Lightning Source does charge a small fee upfront (was $50 AUD for me). There are very slight differences in appearance of the paperbacks, and I’ve tried to document them below.

Let’s start with the first impression. Can you spot any differences? The Australian Lightning Source (ALS) version is on the left, the American CreateSpace (ACS) one is on the right:

IMG_2719

TheΒ ALS version (left) is slightly lighter/brighter – noticeable in the red and gold of the title. Ignore the spacing between my first and last name and the position of the small gold line near the spine – I did those tweaks. The slight difference in color can also be seen on the back cover:

IMG_2720

In both cases the printing is crisp – any differences/fuzziness of the font is purely due to my poor photography skills. The interiors are also very similar, if not identical (again, ALS is on the left/top):

IMG_2729

The paper feels identical, although maybe, just maybe, the ALS is slightly smoother and ACS is slightly softer. The only (annoying) difference was that ACS did not want to lie flat, whereas ALS opened easier. This may be due to the differences in binding.

Speaking of binding, this is where I finally noticed a difference. In the photo below ALS is at the back (so the top of the photo). The ACS is next to my thumb.

IMG_2730

ACS is thicker! Not by a huge amount, but it is probably due to the thickness of paper, so please make your own conclusions. For me, this is good news for when I mail signed books – both can be mailed as a “letter” at 248 pages (6×9 inch format), but it may mean that if my next one is slightly thicker, I may still be able to pay cheaper postage for the thinner book. The thicker book, on other hand, may appeal to others as more substantive? Also, not sure if it will last longer – but does that really matter with fiction paperbacks?

One last small difference in binding is the groove along the seam. ALS is on the bottom/left:

IMG_2731

The groove is much more pronounced on ACS and is further from the spine (which explains why it is harder to keep ACS open). Does this mean it’s a better/more secure binding? I don’t know, but so far it doesn’t seem like either one will be losing pages soon.

So there you go, more info for you to mull over. Or, perhaps, to ignore? I’d say take a plunge and publish with either one – you won’t be disappointed πŸ™‚

 

74 Comments

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74 responses to “The differences (however slight) between CreateSpace and Lightning Source paperbacks

  1. I’ve read there are differences in distribution too (it’s probably down to what you mention about returns). Thanks so much. Good information.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I omitted Lightning source from my review of PoD options. They did not pop up in my Google search. http://franklparker.com/2016/02/10/getting-your-book-into-print/

    Like

  3. I’m fed up with the quality of binding with copies direct from Amazon. The POD books don’t lie flat and look as if someone has been reading them in the bath. I tackled KDP about this and they said I should be complaining to Create Space about it. And when I tackled CS they said I should be complaining to KDP. All I can say is that when I’ve ordered direct from CS the quality of paper and the binding is better, but it’s cheaper for me to order from Amazon as I live in the UK. I’ve sort of given up on the concept of a perfect copy, as I don’t want to blot my copybook over this one issue (sorry about the pun!) by getting shirty with either CS or KDP whose representatives are generally most helpful and courteous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, they are different? How can that be? What do you mean by reading in the bath – they got wet in transit? I have not ordered one directly from Amazon yet, but I have sent a couple, so maybe I will ask those people to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In my younger days, before showers were the thing, I used to laze in the bath reading and the steam would make the pages become all bendy, so the book wouldn’t shut with the edges flush. So I’m reckoning that the warehouse where they source the paper from is damp.
        The other thing, if you’ve opted for cream paper, it is a subtle off-white from CS but a much more yellowish cream from Amazon.
        Let me know what others say: if they’ve tackled CS or KDP about it, and what kind of response they got. As I say, it’s kind of frustrating, when the representatives of at both places have been so very helpful about anything else I’ve asked them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Will do. And yes, I’ve noticed the slight curve to open on CS…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m making these decisions right now, so thanks for this timely discussion. I’ve read elsewhere, but can’t verify from my own knowledge, that Ingram automatically distributes more widely than Amazon, and that if you do choose the expanded distribution option in Amazon, some bookstores resist carrying Amazon titles. Any evidence you know of to support this concern? At least one of the sources of this information also published in both. She said publish in Ingram first and buy your ISBN there. I’d have to go back and check to remember exactly why she advised this. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, and congrats! I bought my ISBN directly from Bowker, which I think is the best way. Also, I wrote a post a while back – they are much cheaper from the Australian Bowker! Go to myidentifiers.com.au – they are still “International BSN”.
      No bookstore will buy from CreateSpace because they can’t return the books if they don’t sell, that’s true. I am in a couple of bookstores and they do insist on the option of returning the books (which could be in damaged condition).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is interesting. I’ve noticed that when I get books that are from CreateSpace,they have a sort of flimsy feel to the covers, and the pages tend to be really soft/almost hard to grasp along the edge. Really threw me off, the first one I got. Now I’m used to it, but it still doesn’t ‘feel right’ in my hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All very interesting. Thanks for sharing, Ana.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tony

    Thank you for sharing the details of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. CreateSpace has done a very good job on both of my books…it’s easy and simple to use and the cost is doable. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I know, Ana, we are so lucky we have so many options.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Just wanted to tell you I’m excited to read your book. I thought it was a YA book at first (and I do like many of those) but then I read what your book is actually about and I immediately put it on my list to read very soon! I read IBooks and if I can’t find it on there Kobo. But if it’s on Amazon I’ve bought an e-book or two off of there the odd time πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And thank you for letting me know πŸ™‚ Unfortunately I took it off Kobo, as it was not selling there and I get so much more with Kindle Select – but it is just 99c on Amazon…

      Can I ask, for my marketing research, what made you look into it further? And thanks again πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I think you did a post about the blurb you were putting on the back of the book. When I saw the girl on the front of the book I think she looks like an interesting girl and she’s blonde (can’t explain this but it started from when I was little drawing girls with blond hair because I have have blond hair) and I have been receiving your posts on the book. I thought the girl looked so young on the front so I just figured it was YA. Then I read the back and read meets rich handsome guy and a little bit of BDSM. The reminded me of Fifty Shades. But I figured I would like to hear your take on it in the book πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, just to explain – there’s no BDSM or sex at all, in fact she keeps thinking everybody wants her, but actually nobody does…it’s a comedy, and a slightly bizarre one – it started as a spoof of 50 shades and then went on to become something like “Lock, stock and two smoking barrels”. Just so that you’re not disappointed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, no I didn’t think with such a young character that it would exactly be like she is an ‘Ana’ type character. That’s why I said I’m interested in your version. As you said a spoof and I think that is great. But I like that it is still a love story no?

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, not with the billionaire – it’s all about Isa and her quest to “her discovered”. There’s some sexual tension, but mostly it’s comedy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Still sounds good. I will of course read it. Sorry for the confusion though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • No problem, it’s actually good feedback for me – I might look into revising blurbs further, to make sure people don’t expect something else and then get disappointed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hey I have a question for you. Do you sell your book on any other platforms? I can’t read it without purchasing Kindle Unlimited. I don’t want to be a regular Kindle subscriber. I just need the odd book from there. Are you on GoodReads or IBooks by chance?

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, sorry. You don’t have to subscribe – it’s a stand-alone for $0.99 on Kindle, isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s fine I got the book.i just wasn’t able to get the book through the application, I had to go the website. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Great – and thank you again πŸ™‚ Look forward to hearing what you think!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    In case you missed this post by Ana πŸ˜€

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  12. Very interesting, Ana and thank you for sharing. I had no idea the quality would be so different and I think CreateSpace falls short just a tad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Annika – I must say, too close to worry about it. Whichever is cheaper. Imagine this, someone from Croatia just won my last Goodreads, I mailed a book to them directly from CreateSpace, and shipping was half of what I’d pay within the US. A mystery.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great information. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I cannot tell you how hard I love this! And how much I appreciate all of your research and sharing. I feel more confident now in my ability to self-publish and market my book (which will be finished this month!) in large part due to your generosity!
    Thank You! ❀️❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Similar slight differences in hue and saturation can be noted in paperbacks issued by traditional publishers, too. You might look for such discrepancies the next time you’re in a bricks-and-mortar bookshop. It has to do with minor variations in dyes between different print runs of the same book.

    Traditional publishers also subcontract their printing to Amazon (which may send the order to its own press or its subsidiary CreateSpace). If you purchase a new paperback from Amazon, look at the very last page. If there’s a bit at the bottom right corner that says Charleston, SC, it was printed at CreateSpace, no matter whose logo appears on the spine. (CreateSpace also has a press in California). If the corner bit says Lexington, KY, it was printed by Amazon’s press. I own books that were published by Cambridge University Press and by “small press” publishers in Toronto, Canada, and Alabama, USA, which were printed by Amazon or its subsidiary.

    Books whose pages curl away from each other in large chunks, leaving a slight gap at the middle of the book, are showing how the paper was oriented in the press. Paper has a distinct grain, as well as a smooth and a rough side, which affect how pages will lie. Printers who take care to provide a product of uniform appearance will ensure that each section of pages is oriented the same way in the press, so that all the pages will lie smoothly upon one another, with no gaps. This defect is more likely to appear in a thick book, and often afflicts CreateSpace products.

    As far as my own book is concerned, CreateSpace printing has been of better quality and faster service than that of Amazon’s KY press. One copy that came from KY had a horribly bungled cover, with blotches of incorrect color on the back cover – and it was sold that way to a reader who ordered it, not to me. I shudder to think of the bad impression that such a poor presentation would make on customers. Amazon seems to try harder to deliver a higher quality product when the publisher is not an Indie author.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, interesting to know, thank you! I have so far been happy with what I got from CS, but I have not ordered one directly from Amazon. How would Amazon print it themselves – I never provided the files to them?

      Perhaps you can also shed the light onto the shipping cost mystery – my last giveaway was won by someone from Croatia, but the shipping cost directly from CS was half that of shipping it within the US. How can that be?

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  16. Thanks Ana:
    I had nothing but problems with Create Space. The back cover lettering was so off. If you have your own ISBN Create space penalizes you.
    I have never tried Light Source.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Create Space works fine for me if I do my own formatting with Word or (I prefer) InDesign, and the only penalty for ISBN is their library distribution channel. But I have spent twenty years as a designer and never use their templates. Since I don’t want to pay an up front fee, I’m fine with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, very nice to meet you, Mr. Phillip with 20 years of design experience! I paid eBook Launch last time, but was hoping to do it myself with the next one – is there a reason you don’t use their templates? When you say design, I assume interior?

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  18. Pingback: The differences (however slight) between CreateSpace and Lightning Source paperbacks | Wind Eggs

  19. Well, there you go – I picked up my copies of The Perihelix and compared them, and just as you say, especially with the spine and cover groove – even though my ‘indie’ version is done through Blurb, it is printed by Lightning Source. And for me in the UK, the Blurb/Lightning source has all the same advantages of your Aussie printed ones, except no upfront costs save the proof copies to buy before unleashing on the world. Mind you, the Blurb copies usually arrive in 3 days, whereas I’m lucky if Createspace copies arrive within 6 weeks, unless I pay $50 for them.

    The only positive difference for the Createspace edition was that it landed in Amazon stores within 36 hours of pressing the ‘publish’ button – still waiting for the Blurb distribution network to spread through to Book Depository after a week – although they do say 3-5 weeks.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I should just add I often have serious issues with the ‘trim’ quality of the Createspace ones – that is the way it is cut around the edges; oiften ragged or slanted.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: The differences (however slight) between CreateSpace and Lightning Source paperbacks – Writing and Music

  22. Thanks Ana, great information from and also your commenters,

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Timely post thank you. Can you say more about how you get your books into stores being in Australia? Do you print locally?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’m a happy, about to be three time user of Create Space. Easy to order books and have shipped.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you, this really helped me! I am currently trying to debate who to use for my book and create space was at the top of my list. Glad to hear I don’t have to agonize anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

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