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CreateSpace VS Lightning Source


I’ve been looking into moving my paperbacks over to Lightning Source. The reason has to do with getting them into local Indie bookstores. As amazingly easy as CreateSpace is to use, they are still an Amazon company and Indie book sellers hate dealing with Amazon. Most store owners I know won’t carry your book if they have to order it from Amazon. So what’s an Indie writer to do then?

You have to use both CreateSpace and Lightning Source. First, establish a CS account and get your paperback looking awesome through them. The software for setting up your interior and exterior PDFs is far superior on CS. Caveat, use your own ISBN numbers for your books. This will get your paperbacks on Amazon and available to a national audience. Don’t purchase the Expanded Distribution option. This makes your books available in the Ingram catalogs for stores and libraries.

Next, take your book PDFs to LS and set up an account there. Again, use your own ISBN numbers so that the publisher of record is you or your LLC. In my case, I use GB Press. You may need to complete a Doing Business As or LLC in your state to protect yourself and establish your imprint as a legitimate business.

LS is owned by Ingram, so you get their “expanded distribution” built in. But the real reason you go this route is to get your books into the Ingram catalog as not being published by CreateSpace. Now when your local Indie bookstore owner goes to order your book, she sees your imprint as the owner and not Amazon. Provided your book is professional looking and edited, they are usually happy to support local authors.

If you only did the LS version, when your book appeared on Amazon, it is likely to always say out of print. As Amazon won’t order any to have on hand. But if you have also gone through CS, this out of print never happens. Again, CS is owned by Amazon so they tend to work better with each other.

Both CS and LS use POD or Print on Demand, so your book will never go out of print and only be printed when someone orders it. I’ve already messed up in all this by using CS’s ISBNs for books. So I’ll be using my own ISBNs for LS and risk the confusion that will surely happen on Amazon later. This is because in something like six years of Self Publishing, I’ve never sold more than a dozen paperbacks on Amazon.

Getting your books into local Indie stores should be your prime directive as an author. First of all, you should be supporting local businesses in general and second of all, when it comes to marketing, act local and think global. Get into your local bookstores and do signings. Do signings with other local authors. Network with them. Go out of town to do signings in other parts of your state. If you happen to border other states with bigger cities, go regional. This is where I’ve fallen down in the past.

I started out doing signings at local stores and then stopped. But now that I have four books out, it’s time to start getting out there and meeting the public. Shake hands, talk to customers and show off my books. Just like I have links to my local Indie store for my ebooks on Kobo, I will eventually have all my paperbacks in their stores. This is just good business as a publisher and a writer.

Useful Links:

Ingram Color Chart and Trim Sizes


8 thoughts on “CreateSpace VS Lightning Source”

  1. Hi Ken,

    The picture you’ve shown above of your three books is that a createspace print? I like the result of your books.


  2. Dear Ken,

    I realize it’s been awhile since you posted this, but I just wanted to let you know how helpful your information continues to be. I’m just in the process of launching my first novel (BIGGER THINGS) through my freshly birthed company Winding Path Books, and I’ve been back to your blog several times for information and encouragement about the process. Happy writing, publishing, model building, and movie making! (I’ve added your books to my to-buy list for the next time I do a book binge!)


  3. Writergirl – I think you can use the same ISBN. But I’m not positive. I have not gone through the LS process yet. I’m trying to get my latest WIP into second draft stage first. The quality of the CS books is top notch on average. I think you should go the LS route for the picture book. When you do, come back and tell us about it, or do your own post and point me to a link. Good luck!

  4. This post has been very helpful. Thank-yo. It confirms what I’ve read elsewhere. I’m wondering. Won’t CS find out I’m also using LS and refuse to list on Amazon? I plan to do as you say and not choose expanded distribution from CS. I also plan to use my publishing company name when I apply for LS and my own name when I apply for CS accounts. More importantly, do I use the same ISBN for both CS and LS? Mine will be a paperback softcover and will not be an e-book (not yet). I’m assuming two different ISBNs for the same book would be very confusing, as you’ve alluded to above. Lastly, I’ve heard conflicting opinions over quality. Mine will be a picture book and I’ve heard from another author that CS print quality is superior to LS? Any experience with this?

  5. Thanks, Ken, this is very helpful information. I’m publishing my book via Lightning Source for their distribution process and book cover quality (I want a matte book and I haven’t heard of another POD offering the matte service yet–have you?).

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