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How To Use Createspace (KDPPrint) And Ingram Spark Together

How to Use Createspace (KDPPrint) and Ingram Spark Together

The author Karen Myers

US novelist Karen Myers (Photo by Joe Padula)

In a useful follow-up to Jim Giammatteo's invaluable Watchdog piece recommending that indie authors use both CreateSpace and Lightning Source simultaneously for effective distribution of print books, US novelist Karen Myers kindly volunteered to provide a personal case study of how this system works for her.

***UPDATE: Amazon's CreateSpace service has now been superseded by its new KDPPrint service. ALLi now recommends using KDPPrint and IngramSpark together to publish your paperback books. For a guide on migrating your CreateSpace books to KDPPrint, read this post by our Watchdog John Doppler.***

The following observations reflect my personal understanding of the differences between the two services, based on my own and others’ observations. They do not include private information received from any of the vendors involved.


Ingram is the largest worldwide distributor of print books. When a bookstore orders a book, it probably comes from Ingram (perhaps through an intermediary).

Graphic showing comparisonIngram offers two services for publishers: Lightning Source International (LSI) and IngramSpark.  The former is for “real” publishers and was all they offered until a couple of years ago. Its contracts are daunting, its interface is a bit clumsy, and its communications are a bit slow and sometimes cryptic (especially to indie publishers who aren’t familiar with publishing industry terms).  Indie publishers and others lamented, and Ingram offered a new service, Spark, with a friendlier front end and slightly more restricted discounting terms.  They stopped letting most indies into LSI once Spark was launched (I got into LSI just in time). Both systems, I understand, use the same back ends and services — the only difference seems to be that there are fewer discount terms on Spark, and the front end/customer service is easier for the newbie. Ingram will charge you for returns, an area that terrorizes new indie publishers because they don't know what to expect. (These days, it seems to be pretty harmless, now that bookstores have adopted just-in-time ordering practices instead of ordering in bulk and returning leftovers.)


CreateSpace (CS) is owned by Amazon and intended for indie publishers. It’s very user friendly, with good customer service. It had a fee per book, just like Ingram, but then dropped that altogether. It lets you use a CS ISBN if you don't have one of your own. (Ingram requires you to have your own ISBNs, like a “real” publisher). In fact, it requires a CS ISBN for the Library portion of its expanded distribution service, presumably due to its relationship with Baker & Taylor.

There are two basic levels of CS distribution: Amazon-related, and expanded. The Amazon-related is closely tied to the KDP program, so linking your ebook and your CS POD book is very easy. CS also offers a webstore, for what that's worth (I've never sold a book there).

Diagram of the CreateSpace distribution choices

Text about expanded distribution
The first Expanded service compares directly to Ingram.

Buying a print book from Amazon

Here's how it works under the covers, as far as I and others can tell…

When Amazon receives an order for your POD book, and finds you only available via Ingram, the buyer can receive a “there will be a delay” message from Amazon. I believe this reflects Amazon's unwillingness to preorder from Ingram and store in its own warehouses. I'm not sure if this is because Amazon considers Ingram to be competition to CreateSpace (which it owns) or because Ingram sees Amazon as competition or just because there is currently no contractual arrangement between Amazon and Ingram allowing it to stockpile titles.

When Amazon receives an order for your POD book, and finds you available via CreateSpace, the service is immediate. I believe Amazon automatically preorders stock from CS so that it will be available for sale, invisibly to you, and you are not charged if it sits there forever or is returned.

So why not only use CreateSpace – free ISBN, no charge for books, ease of ordering at Amazon?  Because there's a whole wide world out there that isn't Amazon.

Buying a print book anywhere else

CS is NOT a worldwide distributor (other than for Amazon). When you use the CS expanded services, what happens is that CS uses Ingram to distribute the print book (like many other small vendors). It registers your book in the Ingram database, as “Publisher=CreateSpace” (EVEN IF YOU USE YOUR OWN ISBN, NOT ONE PROVIDED BY CS).  This means when a bookstore (including online bookstores) looks for your print book, they search the Ingram database, find it under “Publisher=CreateSpace”, and if they are sensitive about Amazon as a competitor they may refuse to carry it.  For example, at Barnes&Noble, where my ebooks are sold, my print books appeared as “available from third parties” (when I only used CS).  Some bookstores think of Amazon as competition, and others associate CS with “indies” and scorn indies as presumed low quality.

If you use Ingram directly, you will pay an annual fee for the book, and it's not as friendly as CreateSpace, and you will need an ISBN. But your books appear to bookstores as “Publisher=YourPublisherName” and no one can tell that you're an indie publisher (there are thousands of publisher imprints). That means that your print books now appear at online retailers, matching your ebooks, and bookstores are willing to carry them.

Except for the ISBN, the Ingram costs are trivial. Here's my thinking on why you need your own ISBNs anyway, though lots of indies just go for the short-term savings instead. http://hollowlands.com/2014/03/why-you-should-buy-isbns-for-your-books/

The current best practice recommendation is to use CreateSpace for Amazon (not the expanded services) and Ingram (LSI or Spark) for everywhere else.

Distributing via Ingram if you are already distributing via CreateSpace

If you are already on CS and want to go to Ingram, you must FIRST remove your book from CS expanded services (so that it is removed from the Ingram database). This will take a week or two and won’t disturb any of your Amazon customers (and you probably don’t have many other customers for your “Publisher=CreateSpace” entry). You will need to check that it’s been removed by going to Ingram and trying to enter your book with that ISBN – you’ll get an “already there” error if it hasn’t been removed yet. You may have to nag CS customer service until that's done. The update cycles between the vendors take a while. Be persistent.

Do NOT load your book to Ingram with a different ISBN to avoid this process – having the same edition of your book with different ISBNs will cause problems for you. If you used a CS ISBN, consider it to be retired after the book is removed from the Ingram database – you can only use your own ISBN there. This means you should recreate your Amazon CS edition with your own ISBN, too, after this is done, so that your book has the same ISBN regardless of the retailer.

You can use the same PDF book interior file at both CreateSpace and Ingram, but you will probably need to adjust the PDF cover file because the paper stock used is not identical, and thus the paper thickness is not identical, making the width of the spine different for each service.

POD Quality

The level of quality for the two services’ POD products seems to be very similar, now that CS offers matte as well as glossy covers. Ingram offers more formats (for LSI, maybe not Spark) than CS, but since you will want the same formats for both services, that doesn’t matter. Both POD vendors are of reasonable quality these days, but not quite as good as bulk printing, and errors can happen (tilted covers, defects).  There is anecdotal discussion of third party services doing the actual printing for CS that sometimes have quality control issues, but in my experience the problem rate is very low.

You can tell the difference between POD books printed by Ingram and CS if you look closely (paper thickness, color) – therefore I recommend that you put all the books in a series in both places, rather than have some in one place, and some in another. A customer who orders them all will tend to do so via the same retail channel and should therefore get perfectly matched sets. If you are going to be delayed placing all of your books with both POD vendors, do them series by series.

Author: Karen Myers

Karen Myers is a writer and publisher, and a proud professional member of ALLi. You can find her author blog at www.HollowLands.com.


This Post Has 182 Comments
  1. Thank you, Karen. That was so helpful. I have published with Ingram Sparks but wasn’t sure I could also publish on Amazon at the same time, and I didn’t have a way for friends to order 1 copy for themselves. I will be joining ALLi as well!
    Aloha, Terry J Walker

  2. i don’t want to use kdp’s isbn.
    if i publish the same paperback on KDP and Ingramspark, do i need 2 different isbn’s? two different bar codes?

  3. Karen,

    Your article was very helpful, as were your many answers to questions posted by readers. I haven’t really found advice on one topic, so I hope you might shed some light on it. It seems that in order to have a shot at brick and mortar distribution, the industry standard discount needs to be offered. But what about returns?

    IngramSpark has this to say in one of their help pages:
    “Retail/list price $20 – 55% wholesale discount = $9.00 wholesale price – $4.81 print cost for small paperback containing 300 pages = $4.19 in publisher compensation paid to you. If the book is returned, we charge you back the wholesale price of $9.00 + shipping and handling fee shown above.” (Based on my understanding, the shipping and handling fee applies only if you want your returns delivered. )

    That example given by IS reveals how costly a return is. A single return wipes out the profit for more than two books sold. The author needs to offer bookstores the 40% discount (55% with IS’s share included) to have a shot at being stocked. But that discount also sets the author up for a serious negative financial impact if returns are permitted.

    I would be ok with the high discount as long as I didn’t have to worry about chargebacks for returns. Alternatively, I’d be ok with returns if the discount was small so the negative impact was minimized.

    Any advice for a first timer?

    Thank you!

    1. Ethan,

      I have published over 150 titles on CreateSpace and IngramSpark – with about 95% of these published via IngramSpark. You can set your wholesale discount to be as low as 30%. You can also set it where you won’t allow returns. Both of these options are available when you set your pricing.

  4. Would like to know how ALLi think about current CreateSpace situation – i.e., that it no longer exists and that KDP has taken over print-publishing operations for Amazon, with some negative consequences. For example: after 17 years with CSP & KDP, my files and titles are no longer acceptable to the new KDP. They have changed the formatting rules so that even while the files successfully printed with CSP all that time, they are rejecting minor formatting issues (how does one tiny serif from one letter in about eight pages of a 400-page book appear outside the finite margin of the word-processing program that created the text). Also, they cannot seem to read print-ready PDF cover files that worked with CSP all that time – they now justify them to top-left, not centre). It’s aggrevating.

    The conclusion is that they are no longer taking seriously the indie publisher’s needs, probably believing this is a dead market. I did however take ALLi’s advice in opting out of certain facts of Kindle e-book marketing; so that currently, considering the above, my paperback sales are zero and my eBook sales nearly that.

  5. Hello i m from india…and i really appreciate ur efforts to put up such article…can i publish my book on amazon kdp and ingram…do i need different isbn..how to get isbn?

  6. Just a heads up… CreateSpace allowed for publishing in Cyrillic, but now that it has changed to Kindle DP they won’t. My wife is originally from Russia and wants to publish in her native language. No problems with CreateSpace, but we just got a rejection from KDP because of the language not being supported. We ordered a proof of this latest book, and it was fine. It printed with no problems.

    They only support a subset of languages now (some quite obscure). I can’t get them to tell me why. I just get form letter responses. This kind of sours my opinion of Amazon in general.

    So… time to try Ingram I guess.

  7. Great information! I was stuck at the step of adding my ISBN to Ingram when it was available at CreateSpace expanded distribution. You answered my question of how to fix this! Thanks!

  8. Thank you for your support! I would like to hear more about Ingramspark’s choices of color printing: standard or premium color. I hear that premium color is best, but it is challenging to keep the pricing on par with other books of the same genre (children’s books).

  9. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so much for this. I was just adding a current book to Ingram and got the ISBN already in use message – finding your post was so very helpful.

    Do you know if you have to remove both Bookstores and Online Retailers AND CreateSpace Direct from the expanded CreateSpace options?

    Thank you,

  10. Can you tell me the steps of posting my book on IS and CS? IS keep telling me different things. I want to use IS because of the whole book in bookstore thing, and I want to use CS for primarily having my book on Kindle Unlimited and lowering prices whenever I want. I’d like to use the same ISBN that I own if possible. Can you please help clear the air?

    1. I myself is doing a lot of research on how to use both CS and IS as well, I’m trying to publish my first book, Please let me know?

  11. Hi,

    First of all, thank you so much for this article!!! It is fantastic and extremely helpful.

    I’m wondering if anyone can offer me some advice on setting up distribution with CreateSpace and Ingram. I’m getting ready to publish my first book. I’m awaiting the proof from CreateSpace and was in the process of filling out my pricing information on Ingram when I contacted them to double-check something. I was told that the only way I could sell on Ingram and CreateSpace was to have a different ISBN number for the exact same book (I own the ISBN), or to put my book in Amazon’s expanded distribution program, contact Ingram to let them know it’s in that program, then remove it and fill out a form from Ingram to transfer it. Could anyone offer some tips on how to sells books through Amazon and Ingram? I know I don’t need two ISBNs for the same book, and it makes no sense to put my book in expanded distribution on Amazon only to request to remove it. Aside from which, doing so would require repricing my book.

    Also, would you be able to tell me:

    1) Amazon Europe is not considered expanded distribution, correct?

    2) If I choose Amazon Europe, which I’d like to do, does that preclude me from also putting in prices for Europe, the UK, Canada, and Australia on Ingram? (I don’t know if this is considered expanded distribution. The only other option is to select the Global Connect Program. I’m assuming I should select that, as well the option to copy the U.S. prices to that program.)

    3) When you set the prices for the other countries, do you change them once a month based on fluctuations in the market? This was also Ingram’s advice.

    Thank you in advance for your help. And happy New Year! 🙂

  12. Hi Karen, I found this article via Joanna Penn’s site and it’s been really helpful for me. I have a question I hope you can help with. I have a non-fiction title which I published through CS using their ISBN and also through Kindle. One of my indie writer friends has told me I can’t now distribute this book in print through anyone other than Amazon because the book is somehow ‘tied’ to Createspace. Your article seems to suggest something slightly different in that I could distribute it through Amazon and other channels, if I get my own ISBN for it, retire the copy with its current CS ISBN then introduce it as a new book through CS but only through standard and not expanded distribution, I can then distribute it also through Ingram Spark. Have I interpreted this correctly? Can you let me know? Many thanks. Andy

  13. Thank you for the overview!
    Can I make my POD book on Amazon available via both Ingram Spark/Lightning Source and Createspace (non expanded distribution) at the same time (under the same ISBN owned by my company) in the hopes of earning the higher LSI royalty or do I have to choose one or the other at any one time for Amazon online? If I can,other than ease of use with Createspace, does it matter which one I use first to offer the book for sale?

    Also does the book have to have a single retail price for that Title/ISBN at any one time, or can it have a unique retail price to both LSI and Createspace?

  14. I have been searching, in vain, to find out how you can remove a book from Ingram. And what to do when you published both the print and ebook as a combo, and just want to remove the print? The reason is that we are moving to a Local Digital printer with warehousing and using a distributor, as the quality is far better. Any ideas?

  15. Thank you SO much for this. This was answering the exact question I had – couldn’t find the answer anywhere else. I was thinking that I’d have to release it with two ISBNs, which woudl have made it confusing all round.

    Do you still get the same rate of CS royalties by doing it this way?

  16. I am so very very confused. I want to self-publish a novel in both hardcover and softcover at the same time. Am I reading all the advice above correctly — that I should first register/upload/etc. the hardcover at Ingram Spark, and then (using the same ISBN I have purchased from Bowker) register/upload/etc. the softcover version of the book (with the same specs) at Creative Space?

    And then if I do that, my book, in both hardcover and softcover versions, shows up on 1. Amazon and 2. Ingram Spark’s index? And a reader could also order my book at a bookstore?

    Apologies if these answers are here and I just haven’t seen them — I’ve been reading and taking notes from this wonderful post of Karen’s and all the responses for days now and am not making headway.

    1. Mary, IngramSpark do offer hardcover as an option (which CreateSpace don’t), but actually what we’re recommending is using IngramSpark for paperbacks too. You should use the same ISBN for the same paperback, wherever you distribute it, so if it is exactly the same paperback book on CS and IS, you should use the same ISBN.

      However, if you would like additionally to publish a hardback, then IngramSpark can do that for you, but then you need a different ISBN, because the two formats and two different products – paperback and hardback. The ISBN enables the customer to order the one they want.

      Yes, a customer can order your book from a bookstore by giving the bookseller your ISBN – but if you use a CS ISBN, they’re far less likely to do so – and you won’t be able to use CS’s ISBN for the IngramSpark paperback, because the ISBN will be owned by Amazon.

      Sorry it is so confusing, especially the first time round, but things do get easier and fall into place once you’ve published more than one book.

      Have you also read our other posts about using CS and IS together, apart from Karen’s excellent one? Jim Giammatteo’s is a must-read! https://selfpublishingadvice.org/watchdog-ingram-spark-vs-createspace-for-self-publishing-print-books/

      1. Debbie, thanks SO much for this. I sure hope it does get less confusing once I get into the publishing part — some days I read about all the possibilities and my head just hurts and my little dog weeps in sympathy.

        One question: are you advising creating the softcover book at Ingram Spark, and then creating another softcover book (but completely identical) at Create Space? Otherwise, how do I get the paperback into both distributors’ systems at the same time? I guess I’m missing the point about HOW one uses CS and IS together.

        Thanks for the link to Jim Giammatteo’s article… will definitely go and read that too.

  17. This is a great article. Thank you!

    I want to use both CS (for Amazon.com and other amazon) and Ingram for other libraries (both online and physical).

    How do I do it so that amazon.com will sell the CS book and ignore the Ingram listing? I am going to have to set up a 40% or 55% discount in Ingram and do not want it to carry over to amazon.

    Is there a way to select what retailers Ingram goes out to?

  18. Hello Karen,

    I have read all of the questions and responses here and have not come across an answer I am looking for. CreateSpace says that for a book to be made available to universities and academic distributors, you must use a CS ISBN…how does this fit into the picture with using my own ISBN for CS, and Ingram ?

    Please advise.

    Thank you so much for your ever so helpful blog!

  19. Hello,

    Thanks so much for the very helpful article. I’ve been researching the print quality of CS and many authors are saying it is terrible. They often get complaints from their readers about problems such as slanted text, paper quality, image quality, etc. Some ordered several batches and no 2 looked alike, with all of them showing various printing errors. Because of this, some authors now use Ingram Sparks for their printed copy. These reviews seems to be over the past 2 years. Do you know if this situation has changed at all?

  20. Thank you for this. I am considering my options. Currently I only publish with CS, but have been thinking of using Ingram. I’m quite new at this and only discovered Ingram recently.

  21. Karen,

    Thanks for the info. My question is, if have two titles with CS using their free ISBNs,
    could I leave them with Amazon’s Standard Distribution, and, use two new ISBNs which I purchased and list them with Lightning Source.

  22. Thanks for the article. What I am wondering is, can my traditionally printed book and an IngramSpark POD book have the same barcode if it’s the same exact size? My thoughts are yes, but I’m not sure if POD books are subject to a different barcode as the quality will be vastly different.

  23. Hi Karen, Thanks for this great article! It is really helpful. I have a couple clarifying questions. I’m planning to use both CreateSpace (not expanded) and IngramSpark. When I set up the IngramSpark account, I’m assuming I would not check the box for U.S. distribution and only check the ones for international regions?

    Also, when someone in Europe wants to buy my book, will they be able to buy it on their country’s Amazon site (or one closest to them, like Amazon UK), via the IngramSpark listing? (Do Ingram listings show up on Amazon?)

    Thanks so much for your help!

  24. Thank you for creating this article. I found it very helpful. I published my first book recently with CS and I used the CS ISBN number. I never setup the expanded distribution. After researching if expanded distribution was worth it, and reading this article, I am going to buy my own ISBN and redo the book on CS so I can also sell it via Ingram on my own. I noticed that on Bowker when buying the ISBN they are also selling a barcode. Do I need to buy a barcode as well? Is CS and Ingram okay with just the ISBN?



    1. They will try to get you to buy the barcode, but the barcode is essentially a jpeg or png image that takes your ISBN number that you bought and make it into “barcode language”-a box with the ISBN and a bunch of lines. There are free sites that can generate a barcode for free because it is rather ridiculous to be charged for that. I used this one before https://www.bookow.com/resources.php but I used another one for my second book. Also, keep in mind that most book retailers like to see the retail price on the barcode as well. So pick a barcode generator that can add the retail price. If you go through CS, and have your own ISBN, I believe you just type it in, and a barcode will be generated for you for free. If you use IngramSpark, you need to create your own again and put it on the image. I know because I did a paperback for CS, a hardback through IngramSpark, and have a traditionally printed version of the same story book.

      1. Thank you for the information. Both CS and Ingram stated they would create the Barcode for free. CS has a fee to update my current cover with the new ISBN and Barcode. Not sure if Ingram will modify that image with their barcode or just accept the CS back cover image. CS originally created all the artwork and cover graphics for me. I am still reading up on the Ingram process of uploading files, etc…

    2. Yup. It’s another 25 bucks. All monies paid to their monopoly are unrefundable, a fact that irked me recently when I purchased an ISBN and barcode from them ($150.00) and discovered that I already HAD 9 ISBNs I acquired about 10 years ago and forgot about.

  25. I use CS for paperback and ebook (Kindle). These paperbacks are I assume sold mostly online by Amazon. I terminated the expanded distribution when I discovered it was worthless. Bookstores said they wanted a better discount than ED offered, and a return policy. I began to have Ingram Spark do an edition which is for sale through bookstores, gift shops, etc. It is very successful.

    I have now had enough readers ask me about doing a hard bound edition that I wish to explore that with Ingram. I wish to know how to proceed. I have eight novels (a series) out thus far and a ninth to be released May 30th.

    How do I proceed with Ingram? Should I do 5.5 x 8.5 as a hard bound so I can use the current interior template? Can such template be enlarged to fit a 6 x 9 hard bound? What would be the best way to have the eight new hard bound editions have covers (book jackets) that are consistent and probably a bit different than those for the paperback?

    Thank you

  26. Thank you for your article and forum Karen. We uploaded a book with 360 black and white photos in it (many are historical) onto Createspace and received a proof that we weren’t happy with. We ordered a second proof and there was no change. We are certain that CS prints at too low a resolution to make our photos look half-way decent. In talking to them they said they had one print setting for B&W interiors and they wouldn’t reveal what the setting was. We can see the dots, photos look fuzzy and the blacks aren’t very black. We are trying to decide about getting a proof from Ingram Spark to see if they do a better job. However, we used a free CS ISBN and our LCN and PCIP both use this free ISBN. Since IS uses different size paper (as you mention) our spine would also have to be adjusted. We’re trying to find out if IS does a significantly better print job than CS for us to go thru all the trouble it would take to switch to them. I sure wish we hadn’t accepted the free ISBN from CS. Biggest mistake we made. I feel very unhappy with the CS production values but is it worth the effort, time and extra cost to switch to IS. Do you have any input on this problem? Thanks

  27. Karen,

    Thank you for this much-needed article. Could you troubleshoot my plan which I’ve based on your advice:

    SITUATION: New book. Would like to release in hardcover, paperback and digital.

    PLAN: Purchase own ISBNs for each format. Publish each on Ingram. Go to CreateSpace and republish paperback version (since CS doesn’t do hardcover) using same paperback ISBN as Ingram WITHOUT expanded services.

    THEORY: CS publication will speed delivery within the U.S. (same ISBN means it will ignore Ingram paperback) but hardcover and (internationally, softcover) will still have good availability via Ingram.

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

  28. If I read your post right, I can use my own ISBN for both my Createspace and Ingram Spark Editions. However, it has to be an ISBN that I purchased directly from Bowker. I can’t do it with an ISBN that I bought through Createspace even if it’s the $10 option Createspace used to offer where I had to use Bowker ID to get the ISBN. Am I correct in all of this? Thanks.

    1. When you use an ISBN supplied by Createspace, it belongs to them. You can’t use it yourself directly.

      When you buy your own ISBN you can use it for both Createspace & Ingram (and any other printer or distributor you use).

      1. If i have already published via amazon with their service’s how do i get a ISBN number added and the amazon one removed so I can look at publishing outside of amazon

  29. Thank you so much! How long does it typically take for Amazon to make your book public on .com and .ca? Do I need to do two separate uploads, per country?

    How long does it take for Barnes and Noble, Chapters Indigo to make your book public through ingramspark?

  30. I published my first book through CS in 2015 and my second one in 2016. The sales for my first book were strong enough to allow me to cover my costs for both books. I did all the advertising myself. I have received 53 reviews on Amazon and 4.8 stars on my first one, and five stars and 11 reviews on my second one. Sales were relatively good in 2015 and 2016.
    In the past few weeks, nothing has sold despite multiple online ads. I have built a small following, and people are anxious to read my third book, which starts where my first book ends, but I am wondering if it makes sense to publish my first book through IS. Other than Twitter and FB, any ideas about marketing? My first book is based on the story of my family. It takes place in Cuba. It has been presented at a local university. I still have some additional local book signings I would like to do, but time is a factor. I work as a Controller for a major hospital and serve as a board member at a community college. Any ideas? Thank you!

  31. I published a book through CreateSpace and then republished it through IngramSpark. How can I ensure that only the CreateSpace book shows up on Amazon? So far, I’ve been unable to find this out from IngramSpark customer service.

    Thanks for a great post!


    1. Amazon owns CreateSpace. When it has the option to present a print edition, it will always present the CreateSpace edition, if it exists (CS isn’t in all countries). If not, it will supply the Ingram one, often with a significant ordering delay.

  32. Thanks for the informative article. You stated “You will need to check that it’s been removed by going to Ingram and trying to enter your book with that ISBN.” I can’t figure out how to search the Ingram database to see if my book is listed with them. Any advice or helpful links?

    1. All you can do is to keep trying to list your book on Ingram. When you get the error message about the book already being listed, then you know it’s still in the database.

      I don’t know of any way to check directly, but it’s not really necessary. If you have access to iPage (Ingram’s book ordering program for booksellers) or the services of a friendly bookseller, you can try looking directly, but the first method works fine.

  33. Great article (very helpful) and great conversation. If this has been answered already, apologies. I did not get a chance to scroll through all of the comments. My question… I have purchased an ISBN through CS. The minimum package via Bowker was too steep for me. So I paid the $100.00 CS now charges (used to be $10.00) to have an ISBN attached to me. Will this ISBN be accepted by Ingram Spark? As I understand it, it still comes from Bowker and is attached to me, CS was just the middleman. I have not made my book active yet so I can leave Expanded Distribution un-selected from the get go.

    1. Can you log on to Bowker via myidentifiers.com and access that ISBN? If not, you don’t own it — it’s owned by Createspace and they just passed along the cost.

      Check with CS customer service to be sure.

  34. Someone noted that you need a separate ISBN number for MOBI and EPUB e-book versions. I know that Amazon uses MOBI. I believe that B&N uses EPUB. Is that right? I also want to make my e-book versions available through Kobo and elsewhere. Does anyone know what format the other e-book publishers (specifically, 24Symbols, iBooks, PageFoundry, Scribd, and Tolino) use?

    1. 1) You need an ISBN for each format of “the work”. The list varies based on what formats you produce, and you may add formats over time. Example: trade paperback, hard cover, large print, epub, mobi, pdf, streaming audio, audio cds, etc.

      2) Let’s say you decide to get one ISBN in Bowker for the trade paperback edition and you print that same number inside your hardcover. Which one would a customer get when he orders the book through a retailer? Which one did he actually want?

      The point of the ISBN is to remove any ambiguity about the specific product.

      3) Today, the formats for ebooks in the industry are MOBI (Amazon only) and EPUB (but let’s not forget PDF). What will the standards be in 5 years?

      Get an ISBN for each format — that’s how the standard is defined, and for good reason. Nothing good comes out of trying do to end runs around established standards to save a buck.

      1. Thank you thank you thank you.

        Karen, this article and subsequent conversation is VERY valuable. So… for clarity. I am getting ready to go into production on my first indie book, due out this Fall. Am I understanding that I can the CS ISBN number and use that same bought number of the Ingram Spark. Assuming it is for the same paperback edition, correct? No other ISBN purchase is necessary unless it is for a different format, such as hardcover or ebook. Sorry…. sometimes these threads removed clarity instead of helping it. Basically….. my book is going to have one edition at first… so it only needs one ISBN…. right… for both CS and IngramSpark?

  35. Hi Karen, i just wanted to say that you are a great help to all of us in the self publishing world, my manuscript will be finished in two weeks and i am like most going to go down the self-publish route, i want to use BOTH CS & IS because i like that with IS you can get your book in stores and you can order hardback copies ( which i like) and with CS your online distribution is great because its an amazon company!

    This is my understanding on how to do it, please correct me if i am wrong, i will go to CS first, upload my manuscript get the free ISBN and click on the option not to have external services – i will then go onto IS do the same – using the same ISBN and is that it???

    or do i have to purchase another ISBN??

    also with IS i heard that there is an an option to NOT make there paper version available through amazon?? is this true? and if so what would i need to do??

    1. Your outline is right — a single ISBN, owned by you, for a particular format, no matter who prints or distributes it.

      Amazon owns CS. It will always try to sell via CS if CS is available (not available in all countries) else it will use the feed from Ingram (or anywhere else), often with a shiping delay.

  36. Thanks for an excellent article. I looked through all the comments, and have been through the CS community discussions and have not come across this issue: I’ve already published with CS. Tried to then additionally go to IngramSpark for the same book, for bookstore distribution, and got my ISBN rejected as already being in use with CS. I found out I had to eliminate CS Expanded Distribution and did so but IS still rejected me. Called their customer support on this issue and so far have gotten three different answers, but the last rep said I have to sign a “Transfer Addendum” with IS that they send to CS to remove the book. When IS receives it, they forward to CS to release the title. I don’t understand why I have to sign a contract; I’ve already eliminated Expanded Distribution with CS. Am I really being given the right info by the IS rep? I’ve been researching how to work with both IS and CS and this is the first I’ve heard of a Transfer Addendum contract. Thank you.

  37. Karen,

    I published my books through Tate. At times I’d do a book signing at Barnes and Noble and they ordered my books through Tate for the signing.

    I uploaded one of my books that Tate produced for me to CreateSpsce, and a couple years later a Barnes and Noble manager was going to have me back in the store, but she could not order my book. I researched by contacting Tate and they told me it was because that particular book was listed with CS. I had to retire it with CS in order to get back into Barnes an Noble. That book is still listed as retired with CS, but just recently LSI contacted CS asking for its ISBN. CS contacted me asking my permission.

    I didn’t know what to think or how to respond. I am not sure if that is a good thing, or not.

    Would you let me know your thoughts, please.
    I own all rights to my books even though Tate Publishing & Entetprises produced them.

    1. I haven’t encountered that problem.

      It seems to be that the order of problem ownership would be:

      A1) If you used CS’s ISBN, then you unpublish the book with CS, get your own ISBN, and republish it, without expanded distribution.


      A2) You make the request to CS to delist the book with your ISBN from expanded distribution.

      B) They talk to Ingram to delist the book from Ingram’s database. This can take 1-2 weeks. You know when it hasn’t happened by trying to list your book with that ISBN on Ingram and it tells you “ISBN already in the database” or words to that effect.

      C) When too much time has gone by, you go back and prod CS customer service. (It’s harder (more indirect) to make Ingram prod CS, which is what I think you may have tried to do.)

  38. Thank you for this clear and detailed information – and your thorough attention to the comments.

    I’ve just stepped into the publishing world and have found the plethora of POD options rather daunting.

    This is invaluable. Thank you, Karen!

  39. The article states: “Do NOT load your book to Ingram with a different ISBN to avoid this process – having the same edition of your book with different ISBNs will cause problems for you.”
    What problems would this cause? Wouldn’t it make sense to have a Createspace ISBN for orders placed through Amazon (since they seem to have quicker processing times), and then a separate Ingram ISBN for brick-and-mortar bookstores to use for their orders (since they’ll want to be able to return unsold copies)?


    1. Many booksellers have multiple distributor feeds. Amazon, for example, gets feeds from both CS and Ingram. Whenever the book is available thru CS and Ingram both, it uses the one from CS to fulfill. So the same ISBN, which is always the right thing to do when you have multiple printers results in the proper behavior from Amazon.

      Doesn’t matter where your product was made — those are just manufacturers. You could have 5 different printers supplying different locations in the world, all with the same ISBN.

      1. So I take it that if I want to make my paperback available to brick and mortar bookstores, the best bet is to get a new ISBN and make it available on Ingram, but then refrain from putting the version with the new ISBN on Amazon (leaving only my Createspace ISBN version available on Amazon). In other words, the Createspace version would be available on Amazon (for regular Amazon consumers), while the Ingram version would be available exclusively on Ingram (so that bookstores could buy returnable copies). Two separate and distinct channels for different types of purchasers. Does that sound logical?
        Many thanks for your guidance.

    2. So, you release your book on Amazon, having linked the CS print record with your ebook.

      1) When someone tries to order your print edition from a country where CS is not available (where Amazon would normally revert to that same ISBN from its alternate supplier, Ingram), I don’t believe any print edition will be available.

      After all, how does Amazon know that “CommonBookName by CommonAuthorName with ISBN 1 used by Createspace” which is linked to the ebook record is the same as “CommonBookName by CommonAuthorName with ISBN 2 used on Ingram” which isn’t linked to anything?

      2) When a bookseller orders a book, he orders it from a particular supplier. He doesn’t order from a retailer like Amazon — he orders from Ingram (via iPage), or from Baker & Taylor (supplied by Ingram), or from whomever his standard supplier is (ultimately supplied via Ingram). That’s where the discounts, financial terms, and everything else come from.

      1. I have since been informed that you can use Author Central to link multiple formats of a book together even if they are duplicative.

        In other words, you can link not just your Ebook with the CS-produced edition (your ISBN), but also with an Ingram-direct edition (your different ISBN).

        I still don’t think that’s a good idea because it is entirely unnecessary to use 2 ISBNs for the same content in the same format, but my objection that it would cause you trouble on Amazon (above) seems to be incorrect.

  40. I’m in the process of finalizing my children’s picture book on I/S. I have purchased my own ISBNs from Bowker. I get it that different versions need different ISBN’s (Paperback, Ebook, and Hardcover). Does that still apply even if the trim size is different? My trim size at I/S is 8×8, but that is not an option at C/S, it’s 8.5 x 8.5?

    Also, I’m assuming I should use same List price for both I/S and C/S, even though my royalty is less from I/S and I get more with C/S?

    I’m grateful for any input on this.

    1. Yes, it matters. The ISBN describes a physical product unambiguously for a customer. On the one hand, it doesn’t matter if three different printers supply you with three identical trim size units. On the other hand, it does matter if the customer wants the 8.5 x 8.5 and gets the 8 x 8 instead.

      If I sell a red shirt in sive 12 in my catalogue, I can switch around my manufacturers, but if one of them produce a version with longer sleeves, I need to give it a different SKU number and sell it as a separate garment.

      Same principle. An SKU (Stock Keeping Unit –look at the bar code on any product) is the general term, and the ISBN is a version of an SKU.

  41. Great article. I learned though that you need to call CreateSpace to have them remove your ISBN from their Ingram account, so you can add it to IngramSpark. I was going to wait and see if they would take care of it after I de-selected Expanded Distribution, but then I read that you do need to call CS to get it rolling, so I did.

  42. I tried to do this and here’s the reply I got from IS:

    “In regards to Amazon, we do not currently offer any exclusions for print books. We only offer to remove your ebooks from the Amazon platform if you choose to do so.”

    It took 24 hours to get this response. Then when I asked a follow-up question (what happens, then, when someone orders via Amazon and it is listed with both CS and IS), I never got a response. Can’t find a phone #.

    Makes me suspicious.

    1. Correction – it took me 2-3 days to get an email response from IS. CS always responds within 24 hours, often much sooner.

  43. Thank you so much for this info. I have just managed to get Foyles in London to stock my book, and they had a problem through Ingram… I’m hoping that will be sorted very soon. I’ll definitely get my own ISBN as soon as possible and use both services.

    Re: ‘The Awakening of Adam Capello’

    1. Hi Mark,

      Were you successful in getting your book physically in Foyles, London? I went down the Ingram route with Foyles but they said they can’t stock ANY POD books in their stores at all. Wondered if you found an exception?


  44. Hi, Are you saying I can have my book with both Create Space and IngramSpark? As long as the book is not enrolled in Create space’s expanded distribution?

    1. That’s right. You could have 5 printers producing the books all over the world (like factories), as long as they were all the same — content, trim size, etc. Booksellers locate it by looking in a database like Ingram. (You could list your garage as the warehouse that Ingram contacts to send your book orders from.)

      CreateSpace lists its books on Ingram like everyone else, when you select the expanded distribution. Ingram only lets an ISBN appear once in its database, so if CS gets there instead of your imprint, that’s all they’ll allow.

      But Amazon looks for your book on CS if it exists and fulfills from there, since they own CS.

    2. I’d like to know the same thing as I have finished my book and cover, and am looking to potentially distribute through both channels. Anyone know the answer to this one?

  45. So, I’m still a bit confused. Can you use CS and IS at the same time?? Cause I like that CS is so Amazon friendly with the international services, but IS seems to be beneficial solely for the fact that bookstores can purchase your books for their stores. I’m still a bit confused.


    Does IS allow pre-order links? What kind of international reach does IS have? A lot of my readers are international going from UK,AU, to India and such.

    1. I’ve been listed with both CS and Ingram for a few years. I’ve decided to remove my titles from Ingram. Yes – I do get some sales from Barnes & Noble… But I get far more sales from “independent on-line booksellers”.
      This creates a big problem…. These “independents” buy my books at a wholesale price and then market them on Amazon and other sites at way lower prices than retail. Which means I make significantly less money on a book.
      In my mind this is scammy… they advertise a price $10 less than my retail price, and only get it printed when they get an order. So they make more $ than me from a sale and take no risk.
      So long to Ingram. Their business plan does not mate with mine.

      1. Your comment is very interesting. I am brand new to the publishing world so I am trying to learn as much as I can before I self-publish. Can you elaborate on what you suggest is best? Am I correct in thinking you only sell on amazon? Do you still buy your own ISBNs?

      2. Nicole —

        1) Yes. Use CS without expanded distribution, and Amazon will always fulfill from there if it can. Use Ingram with the same ISBN for worldwide distribution.

        2) Ingram does support pre-order links (haven’t used them yet there). Look for FAQs there.

        3) Ingram is worldwide. Not all books are printed locally, because they may not have a printer (e.g., every South American country), but they are printed as near as possible by one of their global partners and then distributed. That definitely includes UK and Australia — not sure about where the nearest to India is. When given a choice, choose every available region when Ingram runs through its list for you. (As an indie, you are likely to have worldwide rights for your titles, but that’s not true for many traditional publishers who are Ingram’s primary customers.)

      3. B L French, once you make your books for sale, many bookstores/booksellers might buy them.

        Let’s say your price is $12.00, and you’ve set up a discount so that the book retailer could sell it at the suggested retail price and still make $2.00 profit. When he orders it (whenever he orders it), you will get paid your part based on the discount rate you set. Call that $3.00

        If he decides to sell it to his customers at $11.00, he will forego $1 of his own profit, but it has no impact on your profit. You will still get $3.

        When your print book sells anywhere, you only make wholesale rates, and they are not impacted by retail rates, whether they use your suggested price or a discounted (or inflated) one.

    2. 1) Yes. Use CS without expanded distribution, and Amazon will always fulfill from there if it can. Use Ingram with the same ISBN for worldwide distribution.

      2) Ingram does support pre-order links (haven’t used them yet there). Look for FAQs there.

      3) Ingram is worldwide. Not all books are printed locally, because they may not have a printer (e.g., every South American country), but they are printed as near as possible by one of their global partners and then distributed. That definitely includes UK and Australia — not sure about where the nearest to India is. When given a choice, choose every available region when Ingram runs through its list for you. (As an indie, you are likely to have worldwide rights for your titles, but that’s not true for many traditional publishers who are Ingram’s primary customers.)

  46. Very helpful information! Thank you so much. You answered the exact questions facing me right now, concerning use of both CS and Ingram Spark for publishing. I was given the advice to buy my own ISBNs up front, and now I can see the wisdom! Thanks again.

    1. Certainly. ISBNs are a worldwide identifier, and no two are the same. Picture Ingram searching through its database and finding the ISBN. If Createspace put it there — bing, you have a problem.

  47. Hi Karen,
    Thanks so much for this timely article. This is exactly the advice I am seeking. My cover designer just asked which POD service I’m going with for my first novel, which will be published in May under my own imprint. I had initially decided to just go with Createspace but now after reading your article I believe I will use both Createspace and Ingram Spark with the same ISBN. It’s also very helpful to see what other authors are saying about print quality and trim size/paper color.

  48. I see no reason to cave in to an orchestrated effort to price fix and make things difficult for authors. I signed up with Create space and my book is on Ingram. If bookstores whant to boycott Create Space they’ll face lawyers. This kind of convoluted way of boycotting you, is un american, and it is tryint to form a monopoly and this article simply promotes this effort by Ingram to be a monopoly by saying, hey, you can publish with CS but we are going to discriminate you even though you are on our database? This is disgustting, and manipulative, and shameful. Now I have to go pay Ingram more money to reupload my book to their system because otherwise, they say will simply won’t distribute?

    I think a lawsuit is in order here. According to the FTC this kind of boycott, meant to keep authors out of a market by discrimination, and forcing them to buy at higher prices is illegal. Also, it’s the kind of thing I expect from mobsters, not publishers. Shame on you.

    1. It isn’t a boycott. It’s simply difficult for bookstores to work with CreateSpace because CreateSpace don’t accept returns. My daughter worked in a bookstore and she said this was the big problem, it wasn’t that CreateSpace is Amazon-owned.

      Ingram Spark opens up the world for us – not just the world of Amazon!

  49. Excellent article–thank you! Re: print quality … the paper of IngramSpark-printed books is so much thinner than the paper of CreateSpace-printed ones that for a 300 page book I need to get a different cover file for Ingram because the reduced thickness means the cover “wraps around” further and the text on the back cover and some of the front cover design elements are too close to the edge.

    1. Thicker/thinner, rougher/smoother — which you prefer is all a matter of taste.

      But it is certainly the case that Ingram and CreateSpace use different paper suppliers, and consequently you must use DIFFERENT COVER FILES for each of them (as you might for any other job printer you might use) to accommodate the different thicknesses of the sheets and thus the thickness of the spine.

      You can use the same INTERIOR FILE, bit you must create a separate cover file.

  50. Great article. Thank you!

    Just to verify, for IngramSpark a person would purchase/use their own ISBM. And, that same ISBM could/should be used for CS?

  51. Thank you, Karen. This is exactly the advice I needed this morning. I greatly appreciate you sharing it with all of us via the Internet.

  52. Hi Orna
    Stumbled upon your blog via Google. Have signed up. Very timely. I published my book on CS but distribution is limited to America and Europe for print copies. Therefore IngramSpark seems a better option for me. (I live in Australia). I am publishing a new edition, edited, new title, new isbn, new cover. I plan to remove the current version entirely and list with KDP select for the new e-version.
    From what you say, I need to list my print book with Spark to ensure worldwide distribution.
    Does that mean I do not list the print version on Amazon? Or is it possible to list on Amazon but not list with CS?

    Really appreciate your help as I try to increase my understanding of how all this indie publishing works.


  53. Thank you Karen, and others, for all the info. If anyone can answer this, please do: My idea, from advice given, is to 1) get my own isbn from Bowker, 2) use it with CS (not expanded) and IS. My question is this: Would it be best to do CS first, get a sample copy of my book as a “Prototype”, then go through the process with IS? I ask because I have heard that, being a newbie, working with IS may be an ordeal that I will be better prepared for if I first navigate CS. Also, that way, should I want to make changes to the book (exterior or interior design) I have the CS copy to work from. . .a kind of sample copy. Is there anything wrong with that logic?

  54. Hi-

    I wondered if anyone had any experience in using either of them to produce a children’s picture book’?

    A second question, is that I have an eBook already on Amazon, iBooks and my website. But I have nothing with CS. If I start with LS for the print copy, would I use a different ISBN to these, and would I have to ‘retire’ the eBook from any of the platforms?

    Any help to a confused new self-publisher humbly welcomed.


    1. Hi Daniel. I’m new to this but one thing I do know is that you need different ISBN’s for paperback, e-book and any hardcover book – because this differentiates each of them as different products – and with different price-points.

      All the best Alan

    2. I don’t know about kids books, but I have seen a printer called Blurb recommended for books with lots of images. Coffee table and photography books are mentioned.

    3. Daniel, each book-format you produce is a unique product. If you already have ebooks on Amazon and iBooks, then you have (or should have) an ISBN for the MOBI format and an ISBN for the EPUB format.

      When you decide to produce a print version, it gets its own ISBN. You can have as many separate products per title as you want (audio streaming, audio CDs, large type, etc.), just as you can sell sweaters of a particular type in different sizes and colors, as long as each has its unique identifying number (SKU for general items, ISBNs for books).

      You never retire or reuse an ISBN. If you put out a new print edition as a second edition (one that has non-trivial additions), then you will have two ISBNs for that print book: one for the 1st edition, and one for the 2nd. New buyers will purchase the latest edition, of course.

      You can (and should) remove the old edition from sale, to reduce confusion, but as far as Ingram is concerned, it’s a separate product.

      1. Maggie, today the situation is:

        Digital = EPUB, MOBI, PDF as common formats. And in a few years, when there is a different version of EPUB or a new alternative, there will be more.

        It is a much sounder policy to get one ISBN per format (even if only Amazon currently uses the MOBI) in compliance with the standarad, that to try to do an end run to save a buck and hope for the best.

        What if Amazon begins offering both MOBI and EPUB editions? There’s nothing stopping them, after all. Then what will you do?

  55. Hi, I’d love your insight on this idea. I would like to POD copies to send to luminaries in my field, in the hopes of a referral to a traditional publisher or literary agent. If this is not forthcoming in 6 months, then I’d like to self-publish as you describe (combo of CS and Ingram). So I would not want to make it available online right away. In your opinion, which company would be best to do 75 POD books as ‘advance reader copies’, not final version, and not tie my hands should a traditional publisher care to pick it up? Any thoughts on getting one / multiple Bowkers ISBNs? You’ve helped a lot of ppl with this information!

    1. Why not create them as normal on Ingram, list them as Not Yet Available, buy a box, and mail them directly yourself on request. Alternatively, do a short print run from a jobbing printer that specializes in books, and mail them directly on request.

      You would use the same ISBN either way (Ingram would be functioning solely as a printer, not a distributor in that case — that’s more expensive as a POD than a short-run printer would be, so if your volume is high enough to justify it, the short-run printer might be a better deal, if you can reach a minimum count.

  56. The only issue I can see is that if you want to use the 5.06 x 7.81 trim size in cream, you can do this for CS (non expanded) but not for Ingram. For Ingram you’d have to go with white paper. The choices are either to dump expanded completely and stick to the above trim, to use another trim size for both; or to go with white paper for both. UK bookshops and larger print companies in the UK use the above trim in cream — which is better, I think — and this means that there may be some kerfuffle later on.

    1. A matter of taste. It is prudent to pick formats that exist on both Ingram and CS. If you currently have a format in use on CS that is NOT on Ingram, my recommendation would be to clean the problem up by retiring that ISBN and picking a new common format for a new ISBN.

  57. So…if one has already made the “mistake” of using a free ISBN through Createspace but wants expanded distribution through Ingram. Couldn’t you just do the same book at a different ****trim size*** for Ingram Spark?

    In this way, you get to keep your sales data and reviews on Amazon so you don’t mess that up…but now can add Ingram etc… at the different trim size and isbn.

    Is this a valid “fix” for the “mistake?”

    1. Amazon lumps all the reviews for a TITLE together, regardless of its format. If you used a trim size on CS that is NOT available from Ingram, then you have to make a choice.

      1) Issue a new edition from CS with a different physical format (requires a new ISBN), ask Amazon to merge the reviews from the old edition with the new one. (They’re likely to do that for you). The old edition never goes away, it just withers and becomes meaningless, like a used copy.

      Then go to Ingram, using that same new ISBN for the identical format (watch out for spine width), to get it into the worldwide distribution.

      2) OR, you could assume your customers are retailer-faithful. You could use your new ISBN only for Ingram in a nearly the same but not identical format. Your Amazon buyers who buy online will get books that match each other, and your Rest-of-World buyers will get books that match each other.

      I wouldn’t take this choice — if you go to the trouble of setting up the new Ingram format, why not match it on CS and discontinue the old one?

  58. How do you price your books between the two companies. I recently published my 130 page book [in color] on Amazon and was surprised when Create space said that my minimum charge was just under $17.00. I had to put my book over 19 dollars and will barely make any royalty.

    To make the same royalty, the book published at Ingram would be about $11.00 – 12.00. I was surprised at the difference although I was required to pay the set up fee for Ingram. It seems much more reasonable to purchase any books for myself from Ingram.

    How have you priced your book between the two companies. thanks Barbara

    1. Same ISBN means same format, and same suggested retail price. It’s a balancing act.

      I haven’t tackled color printing, so I can only compare ordinary fiction. You decide what you want to receive per unit vs what’s normal for a book of your genre at that size. Then you look to set discount rates at Ingram that accomplish that. 55% is what the trade publishers use.

      If you use CS’s expanded distribution, they set those rates behind the curtain for you, and you never see them. They use wholesale discounts more like 40%, which encourages fewer retailers to buy their books (except for Amazon who is locked in) because it gives them less room to make their own profits.

      For me, I set 1st-book-in-series around $19.99 if it’s long. I’m aiming at about $4.00 profit on average for ebooks and print, but I get more from some vendors, and less from others. I get the most if I can sell directly, by talking to local stores and supplying directly, but of course that’s hard to do.

  59. This confuses me. If you’re prepared to do PoD through Ingram, what reason is there to also use CreateSpace? Your Ingram book will be available through Amazon (and anyone else that wants to order it). It just seems like more work.

    I should say that I’ve used Lightning Source for a while and not fully explored Spark, so maybe there are relevant limitations in there.

    Oh, re Amazon not keeping Ingram books in stock: basically there’s no need. I’m pretty sure I was once told that Ingram prints books overnight for Amazon and delivers them the next day.

    1. Tim, a key reason for going with both CS and IS/LS is that if you only publish through IS or LS, your book’s page on CS will sometimes read “Out of stock”, referring to their stocks of IS/LS books, which can be offputting to potential buyers. Putting it up on CS also (importantly without ticking the Expanded Distribution box) prevents the out of stock message from coming up.

    1. The Ingram vs CS discussion is about Print formats, not digital formats.

      However, if you use Ingram also for ebook distribution, similar issues apply: same ISBN should be used as for Amazon direct (or anyone else), and a different ISBN for MOBI vs EPUB.

  60. Thank you for the your commentary. I have am a “newbie” to publishing and I want to make sure I have all the information before I start POD. I have a picture book series and plan on using both IS and CS. I want to see how the first book goes before printing the second, third, etc.. of the series. How long do you suggest that I wait? I know you suggested not waiting to long in between. I also plan to print first with IS first but not sure how long to wait until I print with CS? What do you suggest?

    1. No guidance on delays between releases, sorry — I’m exploring that myself. Sooner is always better.

      Can’t speak to special issues for color printing, but since CS doesn’t charge a revision fee and Ingram does, most people get it “right” on CS first before going to Ingram.

  61. Thank you for all of this information! I’m brand new at this but all I need are the illustrations which I will probably have in a few weeks. From what I gather, it would work best to go with IS first and then CS after so I can have the widest distribution without having to remove my book from CS in order to get into IS?

  62. Any harm in going with 2 different ISBN’s for the same book – one for Amazon (not expanded) and one for IS? I own my own ISBN’s. Thank you!! Gary

    1. Two ISBNs for the exact same item confuses the market and is not recommended. Your suppliers (CS and Ingram) produce identical products (within the limits of slightly different paper and color treatments for covers).

      If I contracted with two short-run printers to produce 500 books each, all the same, why would I use a different ISBN? They’re just manufacturers. Same is true for the POD manufacturers CS and Ingram.

      Ingram is the only distributor in the picture (CS distributes through Ingram except for Amazon, where Amazon goes to CS directly).

  63. Thanks for this information. It is really helpful. I have a question. My book is on Create Space and I never signed up for any of the 3 expanded distribution channels. Can I use the free Create Space ISBN number I was given with Ingram Spark?

    1. Afraid not, Daniel – the free CreateSpace ISBN is the property of CreateSpace. Your best bet will be to buy your own ISBNs and use the same one for the paperback on both outlets.

  64. Really great, Karen.

    You said you got into LSI “just in time” before indies were sent over to Ingram Spark. Was the flexible percentage discount the reason you preferred to stay with LSI? (Ingram Spark now has a calculator on their site that allows you to play with discount percentages, so I took that to mean there was flexibility with them also…)

    I used LSI for my first print book, but am about to release two more. Almost went with Bookbaby, but now thinking LSI or IS after all. Should I stay with LSI for my next 10+ books?

    Also, do you think there’s any reason to offer that 55% discount? Takes such a huge bite out of royalties… Do bookstores a) care that much, and b) even buy indie books through Ingram? Would love your response to this stuff! And thanks for putting your experience out there!

    1. Several philosophy questions here…

      Yes, I stayed with LSI to have more control over discount rates. Now that LSI has updated it’s website, the user-friendliness is much improved, so I don’t plan to shift to Spark.

      My philosophy is to look as much as possible like a big traditional press to bookstores, and that means the same discount rates.

      I don’t expect to make as much from print editions as ebooks, unless I can sell them directly (local stores, author sales), where I make much more that I do for ebooks. It averages out.

  65. This is really great information, extremely useful, but I’m confused. I thought only the free CreateSpace ISBN listed the publisher as CreateSpace. On the ISBN purchasing form, they say that if you purchase the $10 or $99 ISBN that your imprint will be listed as the publisher. I assumed it was the same if you bought your own ISBN outside of CreateSpace.

    Where can I find more information about this?

    1. I believe (but am not certain) that the owner of an ISBN can list other “publisher” names than their own.

      If you already have such an ISBN, or know someone who does, look it up (or the title/author) on http://www.bookwire.com That will give you much of the information stored in the Bowker record.

      For all I know, since I wrote this article it may be possible to have the ISBN appear as a CS ISBN with your publisher name. It would still be a CS ISBN, though, and you couldn’t change the content on Bowker as you could if it were your own ISBN.

      The reason I think this is possible is that I own ALL my ISBNs, but some distributors (CS in my article above, AuthorsRepublic, and others) claim the publisher name by the time the product reaches a retailer. I still control all the ISBN info at Bowker, but some sort of override gets introduced somewhere in the distribution process.

      There’s nothing I can do about that, but it’s only seems to be a significant issue for print.

  66. Thanks–I followed someone else’s advise that you HAD to have two different ISBNs-one for CS and one for IS. If I filled in the info at Bowker, but never made the 2nd ISBN “available,” can I still use that ISBN for another book? I believe the idea for using 2 ISBNs was to “track sales” but that seems silly–reports from each should do that–right?

    I’m also confused about some other things. If anyone can respond, I’d appreciate it. Do you have to create a business in your state that corresponds with the “imprint” name for IS? This might also involve a retail license and filing quarterly taxes for sales.

    I’ve battled for the last few days trying to understand the IS account setup and the “legal name” vs “contact name” and how it relates to the W9 form. The last call finally explained that the account information “Business or Legal Name” is where the IMPRINT name goes (why not call it that?) and the “Contact Name” will appear as the “Legal Name” under the W-9. (Again…why not call it that?) I use my pen name as my contact name…I don’t want to be addressed by my legal name. Apparently that’s not an option.

    Also, I can comment on the remark about CS farming-out print jobs. I had two different orders come back from outside sources, and the coverstock and paper was not the same (inferior-in my opinion). They looked so cheap, I complained. The first order was resent at no cost, and the other I had to live with. I understand that you can request the site you want to print your books–as I have requested Charleston, SC (since it’s close to me, too.) This is the site that produced my proof, so I know the quality I’ll get and the book looks like I expect it to.

    Thanks for this post.

    1. If you have an ISBN that was declared for one format but you have never used it, try editing the Bowker record and changing the format. If that works, fine. If not, ask Bowker customer service.

      I can’t speak to the best approach for business setup (not sure I have it right myself) but in general I recommend creating a business entity of some kind for your Press, whether it’s an LLC or whatever. Don’t forget the DBA filing (“Doing Business As”…). And a separate bank account is a good idea, too, even if you’re always adding money to it from elsewhere while the business runs in the red.

      Once you get large enough to be profitable (if not before) have a small business accountant advise you about proper business setup. You can always move your entity from one sort of thing to another.

      1. In general, you can officially create a corporation of some sort (an LLC is one version that makes sense tax-wise, but in practice it isn’t much different than an S corp), but unless your book sales and expenses are large and/or complicated, that just adds complexity and paperwork to the task. You can run the whole thing as a sole proprietorship, and simply file your income and expenses on a Form C on your income taxes. You won’t get the legal protection against being sued that a corporation gets you, but that doesn’t really seem to be much of a risk in this application. What you will get is: 1) No need to create a company; 2) No annual state corporate taxes; 3) No required corporate meetings and paperwork; 4) Same flow-through income without double taxation. Creating a corporation does create some minor tax advantages (for instance, interest on business loans is fully tax deductible, unlike interest on consumer loans and credit cards), but again, that is rarely an issue unless your book sales are in the stratosphere.

        The net of all this is, there is no legal requirement in the US to register your imprint as an official business, but you might want to grab a token website at $30 a month or so just to secure the dot com name and to establish that you have “published” the business name at a certain date, useful if there is ever a fight over that name in the future. And if sales do take off, the website is a great tool for marketing and even online sales.

  67. Thanks Karen!

    This was extremely informative and served to clear up the great mystery all small publishers face when beginning.

    Much appreciated

  68. Thanks for the article. Would you recommend distributing through ingramspark, CS and, Baker & Taylor. Or does Ingramspark and CS distribute through Baker & Taylor for you?

  69. Really useful post, thank you. I had printed my book initially and it was selling in bookshops here in Ireland but when I started getting some PR in the UK, I decided to do Create Space and Ingram Sparks – it’s early days as it was only last month but it will be interesting to see how it goes.
    I’ve heard of bookshops refusing to stock books printed with Create Space so I guess Ingram Sparks is the answer there.

  70. Thanks so much for this article! I’ve put this off because I couldn’t get a straight answer from IS or CS on this issue. I appreciate you sharing the information.

  71. Hi, Karen, thanks for the very useful post!

    I am still a bit confused about ISBNs. Would you kindly clarify:

    1) if I have an ISBN from Bowker that I assign to a paperback, then Create Space and Ingram would use the same ISBN?

    2) I can avoid the whole issue of removing a Create Space ISBN from Ingram simply by not signing up for the expanded distribution in the first place, yes?

    Gratefully yours,


    1. Hi, Shelley,

      That’s right. If you’re just starting, then you use one ISBN for your print edition, and put it up on two POD print services (Ingram and Createspace). Think of them as manufacturers. As long as you don’t use the expanded distribution for CS, there’s no conflict in the channels.

      You could have three or four more printers (for short runs, for foreign countries, etc.) and as long as the edition is the same, you can use the same ISBN. Think of it from the customer’s perspective — if they can’t tell the difference between the book they buy that originated in a short run printer’s factory and the POD printed by Createspace that they buy from Amazon, then the ISBN can be the same.

      If CS didn’t use Ingram to do its distribution for the expanded distribution channel, each of these channels would be completely discrete.

      If you were a big publisher and used Ingram to warehouse your books, no one cares who makes the physical books in that warehouse: various short run printers, Ingram POD, whatever. Same physical object (from the customer’s perspective) with the same contents, so it gets the same ISBN.

      1. Now, if you change the cover for Xmas to make a Xmas-themed edition, you would need a new ISBN, because the customer would need to distinguish between the version with the normal cover and the version with the Xmas cover.

        But if you simply update the cover altogether, and the old cover is no longer available, then I think you can retain the same ISBN (customer can’t buy the other version). It hasn’t come up for me, so I think I would ask what Bowker (ISBN agent in the USA) advises.

        I do know that if you make trivial changes, such as fixing typos, you are not required to use a new ISBN, because that doesn’t really count as a new edition. Same for blurb updated on the cover, price changes on the cover, and so forth.

      2. You say that for short runs, in foreign countries, it would be best to use printers other than IS or CS. My novel, given its subject, will sell a lot in Guatemala. Is there some particular printer I should know about to supply my book to bookstores there?

  72. Great post, Karen – so good that so many indies now have this clear in their heads. Another point about using IS or LS is that it’s quick and easy to order short runs for events and similar – and you can even have them sent to third party addresses…. They have great calculators on the front of their websites that you can use to see the costs for this right away. I once had a request for 23 copies of Eeek! The Runaway Alien for a children’s party 100s of miles away. I put the order in with LS on the Wednesday and she received them on the Friday! That was lucky but the norm would only be a day or two more in my experience…

  73. OMG. I’m kinda hoping this is why everyone was ignoring my questions on the ALLI facebook group on this exact issue – because your advice was imminent.

    Thank you!

    I have a CS ISBN book – but I want to reduce my print unit costs by going with Ingram and I want to take advantage of Createspace’s relaxed rules on gutters for longer books. So I need to create a 2nd edition – it’ll have less pages than the 1st so even cheaper to print – and get my own ISBNs.

    It seems terrifying, but I’ve applied for 10 ISBNs, my cover/interiors are ready to go, so when I get the ISBNs, I reckon my next job is to get the second edition on CS and discontinue the first.

    Thank you – I feel as if it’s all achieveable!


    1. It is, indeed, totally achievable, Caroline — with help from generous indie authors sharing their real-life experience, as Karen does here (Thanks so much, Karen). Good luck with the adjustments and don’t forget to tell the other Karen (Lotter) about the 2nd edition when it’s out, so we can feature it in Member’s Showcase.

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