Tuesday, July 3

Jen Talty: Amazon's CreateSpace Vs LIghtning Source

I love Jen's posts! This time she examines the pros and cons of two print on demand (POD) providers, Amazon's Create Space and Lightning Source. She breaks down the cost of each and then gives her conclusion: Cool Gus Publishing is switching from Lightning Source to CreateSpace.

Here is Jen's breakdown of cost:

Lightning Source:
  • $75.00 Upload fee for Cover/Interior
  • $12.00 US Distribution (a year)
  • $12.00 UK Distribution (a year)
  • $30.00 Proof
  • Change your files it will cost $40.00 per Interior and $40.00 per Cover
  • $1.50 Shipping and Handling charge per order
  • must provide own ISBN
****No services provided on cover, editing, or anything else that goes into the making of a book

  • FREE self-service (there are services you can pay for, but the basic upload is free)
  • $25.00 Expanded Distribution (one time fee)
  • A proof is the cost of printing plus shipping.
  • Can use CreateSpace ISBN for free
****There are many services that CreateSpace offers from building your book, editing and cover design that are all at the author’s expense, but they are not required at all

Jen concludes:
The bottom line for us came down to customer service AND ease of the system. LSI is a bit clunky and if you don’t know what you are doing with formatting a book, cover, etc., you are bound to make a mistake. I made a few the first time around. CreateSpace gives you templates (for free) for both interior and exterior so your book looks professional. They also have a cover tool. I have not used it since I’m an InDesign junky, but I’ve played with it and for the novice user, its pretty good, but my big caveat is most of us are not cover artists and always best to hire a professional.

Between talking with my team to wargame the best course of action, the ease of their on-line system was the deal closer. They have this 360 digital proof that shows you the cover and how it wraps around the book, well that right there sold me. Their entire system is very easy to use and while I just created more work for myself as we are going to transfer ALL of our books, I highly recommend CreateSpace.
Well, there you have it. I'd encourage you to read Jen's article in its entirety: Why is Cool Gus Publishing switching from Lightning Source to CreateSpace?

I haven't used a POD service yet, but I had been planning on giving Lightning Source a try. Now I think I'll go with CreateSpace. I love getting recommendations from unbiased industry professionals!

Related reading:
- Espresso Book Machine: Create A Book In 5 Minutes For 1 Cent A Page (Video)


  1. This is a debate I'm currently having with myself - Lightning Source or CreateSpace? Decisions, decisions...

  2. I know, it's difficult, partly because both companies have good reputations. Whichever way you decide, I hope you blog about your experience. :)

  3. This is a great post! I've been researching all the POD companies out there and the consensus is that Lightning Source isn't for the novice/timid. You have to know what you're doing to go with them. But I did not know about all the fees, so thanks for that bit of info!

  4. What incredible information, on exactly the right day for me. I was debating using both LSI and CS for print editions of my book that I'm just ready to launch. Keep the information comeing. Thank you.

  5. This is great, and thanks to Karen for linking me to this post. I went with CS initially, out of sheer ease, and I'm a first time Author, so all this positivity is making me feel better. All the best to everyone, and good luck with your ventures.


    John Stephens

  6. Glad to have helped! Best of luck. :)

  7. The reason I was trying to find an alternative from CreateSpace was because I've heard that indie bookstores will not purchase through Amazon. [http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/941131-indie-booksellers-boycotting-amazon-createspace]
    However, with the amount of money Lightning Source requires, I just don't think I could afford to use them right now.
    Thanks for the breakdown of costs!

  8. Thanks for the comment Suzanne, and for the link. I think CreateSpace has continued to improve and, from what I've read, it seems that they offer a quality product at an affordable price. Of course that doesn't help you if you can't use them.

    David Gaughran has does very well selling his paperbacks to bookstores, here are articles he has written on the topic:
    - Making Money From Paperbacks

    - Print Editions, Mailing Lists, Special Offers, Donations & Ad Spots

    David gave a link to this article from Catherine, Caffeinated:
    - How to Make a Real Book

    I don't know if anything in those articles will be relevant to you. Best of luck! Oh, and if you ever want to write a blog post about your experience getting your book into bookstores, please do let me know. I can be reached here:


  9. One thing Createspace doesn't tell you is if you design a book cover with an image on it and the spine is a different color, it is impossible to get a quality product because their printer has a 1/8 inch margin of error every time. Hence, my proofs came out perfect, only--to my dismay--to have the ensuing books arrive 1/8 inch out of alignment. This was pretty unacceptable. You can't sell books if they don't look professional. Enough to make me look into Lightning Source.

  10. Great to know this information. This will help, thank you!

  11. I started with CS, then moved on to LSI. The biggest difference between the two, in my opinion, is that one is designed to work with publishers, the other works with authors.

    This explains the difference in services support and technical know how required.

    For me personally, LSI worked out cheaper, even with the steep file upload fees. I buy a lot of books to sell at events, and since I live in Australia, shipping is way better than CS ever was.

  12. I know that LSI handles traditional offset printing (on Print-On-Deamand Titles) if such a need arises, which translates into a savings for the publisher/author client. LSI also prints hardcover books with dust jackets if that option is important.

    I'm not sure if CreateSpace has either of these options.

    1. Thanks Nancy, I didn't know LSI offered either of those options. Thanks for letting us know!


Because of the number of bots leaving spam I had to prevent anonymous posting. My apologies. I do appreciate each and every comment.