For any new readers, welcome! Feel free to check out my book launch details!
As those of you who have been following my author journey know, I am using two distributors for my books: IngramSpark (Ingram) and Createspace (CS).
UPDATE: The comments below pertain to proof copies. I noticed immediately upon ordering a batch from IngramSpark that the quality was much better on the real copies. I would highly recommend Ingram, and noted there was no peeling on the edges as there was with the proof I rushed. I now have literally no complaints with them (except liking thicker pages).
As a little background: CS are Amazon’s main distributor for paperback (and they’re pretty good for porting over to KDP for Kindle distribution as well). As you well know, Amazon is customer-facing, meaning people can buy straight from the site. Ingram, on the other hand, distributes to brick and mortar retailers (and their online platforms) as well as many eBook sellers. I opted for both because of the customer-facing nature of Amazon and the distribution reach of Ingram (and the fact that they have a printer in Australia, which makes ordering copies for myself much easier).
Today, I will be looking at the physical copies (paperbacks) and how they stack up.
I also intend to do a video version of this at this some, so keep your eyes peeled.
The Comparison –
I have always been told that Ingram is far better quality but I was pleasantly surprised when I received proof copies for both. To be brief, both have their merits and I think you’ll be okay with whichever you opt for. For those of you who want more detail, however, keep reading. I will try to break this up as neatly as possible so you can pinpoint your main areas of concern.
- 5″ by 8″ (12.7×20.32 cm)
- 486 pages
- CS printing cost per book: around 6AUD
- Ingram printing cost per book: around 11AUD
- Font: Baskerville
- Extras: cream paper, perfect bound and matte
Let’s start with the basics, shall we?
The first thing I noticed was the odd feel about the matte. I don’t mind it so much, but I’ve heard the CS covers can feel a bit sticky eventually. If you don’t like this, then try glossy.
I was also pretty quick to notice the difference in cover lamination. The CS copies are simply printed, whereas the Ingram copies are covered in matte laminate. At first I definitely though I preferred the laminate; however, I quickly noticed it was peeling at the edges and there were clear marks at the spine crease and fold lines on the cover.
After fully reading the book, there were very visible peeling and marks. The CS copy, while not being as nicely laminated did not bear as obvious spine marks or fold lines (though there were still some).
PREFERENCE – CS. The feel of the Ingram copy is better, but it shows up fold lines and spine creases very clearly. Quite disappointed by the peeling, considering these are meant to be retail quality. EDIT: The fold lines and creases were not present on subsequent copies ordered. The Ingram copy also feels better, but the CS copy was also acceptable.
Ingram is a pretty clear winner here. The print quality is simply higher. The colours are more vivid and better detailed and I much prefer the barcode used by Ingram. Not to say that the CS copy was particularly poor, but it was definitely a tiny bit grainy when looking at both covers side-by-side. The title definitely popped a bit more on the Ingram copy, however.
PREFERENCE – Ingram. As you can see, I used a detailed photograph for the cover and I would say that, overall, the difference isn’t wild. I would probably choose Ingram over CS because I like very high quality covers, but if you’re looking to save some money in printing, it might not be worth the expense.
And now on to the inside of the book.
This is a very tricky one as I know it will be quite divisive. To be honest, the paper quality in both was good. It really comes down to preference for me.
Ingram’s paper is slick with a nice feel and very thin. It’s clearly higher quality.
CS, on the other hand, has thicker paper (making the overall book slightly thicker) with a slightly rougher feel which I much preferred. It reminded me of the old trade paperbacks I used to read as a kid.
PREFERENCE – This one’s personal, really. I prefer the thicker, rougher quality of the CS paper, but I know a lot of people will prefer how nice and neat the Ingram paper is.
Ingram is, again, the clear winner on this one. The image quality for the imprint and the image I have surrounding my title were much better. However, this was during comparison. The images are a tiny bit grainy on the CS copies, but not in a way I would really notice, or would think was unintentional.
PREFERENCE – If you’re a stickler for perfection, you’ll definitely want to go with Ingram, here.
Text and Reading
I used Baskerville for my font and I think it came out great in both prints (especially when both bolded and italicised as it is in a few instances in the book). If you peer hard enough at both copies, you’ll see that Ingram’s print quality is generally better but it’s not really noticeable. Both was retail-standard as far as I could see, though I find the way that CS forces your margins to sit a little strange.
PREFERENCE – Ingram is better but both are serviceable.
(This image is poor quality and will be replaced soon)
It really comes down to how much of a perfectionist you are, and how much you are willing to spend. Ingram is definitely better quality, but that quality comes with a few dollars extra on the printing price. If you plan on stocking your books in brick and mortar stores, however, I would definitely recommend them for quality.
If you’re happy to distribute with Amazon and not too fussed if the quality isn’t as perfect as it could be, then CS is definitely a good choice. I was honestly pretty happy with how both proofs came out, though the perfectionist in me is glad I distribute with Ingram as well.
Honestly, I would still recommend both. CS is great for Amazon distribution but Ingram is a good source of personal printing if you want to sell your books by hand or take them to conventions (and if you’re an Aussie, they print in-country so shipping cost and times are not so bad).
Generally, CS is a lot more user-friendly and simple to work with than Ingram, so keep that in mind if you’re not too savvy with formatting and cover generation (or hire someone to do it for you). There’s no reason you can’t start out with CS and move to Ingram if you want to start stocking retailers later down the track.
tl;dr – Both are actually pretty good. Ingram is slightly better quality for sticklers.