I’m publishing a short story to the Kindle, one that’s fallen into the public domain. I wasn’t planning to take it to print, but then I figured doing so would offer me the opportunity to try out CreateSpace and see how it compares to Lightning Source.
Reasons to Use Lightning Source
- Lightning Source distributes to more online vendors, including all the international Amazon sites. At CreateSpace, you can upgrade a title to the Pro plan and get expanded distribution, but that won’t get your book onto other Amazon sites.
- You can set whatever discount you want with Lightning Source. If you use CreateSpace’s expanded distribution plan, the discount is set to 60%, which means that on each sale, you’ll lose 60% of the cover price plus the cost to print the book. Sales at Amazon.com require a 40% discount.
Reasons to Use CreateSpace
- It’s cheaper. You don’t pay anything unless you upgrade to the Pro plan, which has an initial fee of $39 per title, and a $5 fee/year thereafter. The Pro plan includes options for distribution to other online venues and to libraries (but you must use a CreateSpace ISBN for the latter). Even if you don’t want the expanded distribution, upgrading to the Pro plan is worth it because it reduces the unit print cost.
- CreateSpace has a friendlier interface. If you’ve worked with Lightning Source, you know you’re pretty much on your own. CreateSpace is very much geared toward the individual who doesn’t know much about publishing. There are community forums, you’re stepped through the process of setting up a book, and if you live in the US or Canada, you can actually phone support and talk to a live person. It also has a handy royalty calculator that shows you how much you’ll earn on a sale through each distribution option.
- Related to #1, if you upgrade to the Pro plan, ordering copies of your book for yourself is cheaper than ordering them from Lightning Source.
- It offers a feature called the eStore, which is essentially a one-page store you can hang off your website. Depending on your goals and how you want to sell your book, this feature could be handy.
I’ll continue to use Lightning Source for my books. The ability to set a short discount and the number of distribution partners trumps CreateSpace’s advantages. But if you don’t care about wide distribution, CreateSpace is the more attractive choice, and nothing says you can only use one or the other. Why not take advantage of both?
That’s exactly what I might do with my next book. I’ll use Lightning Source for its distribution partners, and CreateSpace to order books for me.