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« Beautiful Repurposing | Main | A Couple of PoD followups - Expensive! »

September 26, 2007

Anyone Have An Opinion on Createspace?

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Self-publishing and vanity publishing have been around for almost as long as the book has been with us. Back in the early enthusiastic days of the dot-com bubble there was a lot of talk about print on demand (PoD) being the next great thing. Inventory costs and the Reagan-era tax law changes on inventory depreciation more or less killed the backlist and midlist publishing business.

Amazon brought that back with its winning bet on the long tail but still PoD eludes us. If you want to buy a book, it needs to be there because someone printed it in anticipation that you'd buy it (or download it). Or does it?

Createspace looks like it's out to change that by making book, DVD, CD and video publication on demand possible, and maybe even cheap and convenient enough to appeal. As an Amazon company they're hooked into a big marketing and search machine - if I want to write about intellectual property issues and have people on Amazon find my book when they search, this may be the way. (No I'm not writing a book, I promise.)

In addition, Createspace is prominently featuring a "you keep the rights" slogan on its front page. Of course the devil is in the details, but from my fast skim it appears you keep the essential rights and the company gets rights to reproduce your work because they need to do that after they receive a customer order.

I'm always concerned about what the experience is of the person using a service and it appears that from the customer's point of view, Createspace will be invisible. Just like ordering from any other Amazon merchant, I place an order, pay (including Amazon's commission), and stuff gets downloaded or shipped to me. Could be a nice win, even if it's not earth-shaking.

Comments (80) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use


1. Crosbie Fitch on September 26, 2007 3:37 PM writes...

I think it's bloody marvellous!

However, I hope they haven't forgotten copyleft and copyright-unprotected works.

At first glance it appears they assume that books (or other works) will be submitted by their copyright holders (typically authors), i.e. they rely upon the existence of only one party who may submit a particular work.

I'm wondering what they'll do when umpteen maverick chancers start submitting copyleft and copyright expired works.

This isn't intrinsically a problem or even unethical (no matter what royalties are obtained), it just means there may be a thousand different editions of the same work.

They could have a "Copyleft works printed strictly at minimum cost - royalty free" option. This would mean that works that could potentially be printed by anyone can be requested to be added to CreateSpace's 'Royalty free libary' so they can be given an ISBN (if one doesn't already exist), and presumably an internal team will produce a bog standard format. Naturally, they may accept enhanced formats produced by voluntary/collaborative efforts.

What about all the FDL manuals waiting to be printed? Will they still refuse submissions from anyone apart from the copyright holder - even though FDL permits printing by anyone?

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2. walt crawford on September 26, 2007 7:55 PM writes...

What's new about CreateSpace is the free ISBN and direct link to Amazon with no up-front costs. Otherwise, what they offer (at least for books) is a subset of what has been doing for some time, with slightly higher fees and a considerably less user-friendly process.

I'm using both. Both have their points. And since neither requires an exclusive agreement, using both doesn't appear to be an issue. But as far as making PoD possible, affordable, and convenient: has been doing that for a while now.

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3. Anonymous on September 27, 2007 8:12 AM writes...

Crosbie: I'm not so sure uncopyrighted works are such a problem. Today in the bookstore I can find three or four publications of Homer's Odyssey and nothing stops there being a fifth one tomorrow.

I agree it's be nice if they would work with Creative Commons to make things more flexible but really all they need is a grant of reproduction right - the rest is up to the author(s).

Walt: I wasn't aware of - I'll check it out.

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4. Crosbie Fitch on September 27, 2007 11:24 AM writes...

Anon, the problem is that in the bookstore for each publication someone has invested in setup costs, whereas with CreateSpace, they appear to remove that disincentive.

I suspect they'll have to institute at least a token setup fee.

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5. drwex on September 28, 2007 9:45 AM writes...

Sorry, anonymous up there was me. Problems of being in a hurry.

My sense is that CreateSpace give you the option of a direct placement within Amazon or a separate store link. The costs for that are probably already sunk by them and are recovered as part of the per-item charges they make against publishers.

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6. Mary Kay Aufrance on October 23, 2007 3:05 PM writes...

My experience was very good. CreateSpace has made an audio CD of our Celtic music CD Ramblin' Irishman and our store is at

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7. Jim Smith on March 22, 2008 4:55 PM writes...

For CD and DVD self-publishing is higher quality, faster speed and much lower priced. Kunaki is good.

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8. Al Olmstead on April 8, 2008 5:22 AM writes...

I am filing a fraud action against and executives in the 118th District Court of Texas (Howard County). Even after you PAY them to sell your work, they never pay any sales commissions AT ALL. Why? Gee whiz. Guess who forgot to include a payment method (bank routing number) on their website? Look at their balance sheets. They never intended to pay anything to anyone. That's why you can't get an answer, even from their attorneys. They got caught.

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9. austen on June 25, 2008 10:30 AM writes...

My experience with createspace has been disasterous.

They’re integration with Amazon is completely broken…..selecting sell on Amazon may get you listed on amazon or it may not. You might come back after selecting “Sell on amazon: YES” to see “Sell on Amazon: NO” You might change it several times back to “YES” only to see it switch back as if you changed it (even though you didn’t).

What else. The site is running so slow today I can’t use it.

For Amazon Search Inside? Please. Everyone in the community that I’ve talked to who has tried search inside for createspace books have resulted in failure. Search Inside doesn’t work…months after you submit it still will not be enabled.

Don’t do createspace unless you want to have a horrible experience with a bunch of backwards people who will not answer your questions properly.

You’ll just get a bunch of automatic replies “Post take 15 days to post on Amazon” etc. DO NOT USE CREATESPACE.

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10. David on July 11, 2008 12:11 PM writes...

austen, your spelling is "disasterous".

I have found the absolute opposite to be true in my experience with CreateSpace. For example: I published my first CD, jumped through the usual routine such as sending the materials, awaiting the proof, etc., and although it says that it MAY TAKE 15 days for it to appear on, my title was there after 3 days, two of them being weekend days.

My 2nd and 3rd titles are currently in the works and I expect the same output for these.

Are you sure you were using the system correctly?

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11. Summer on July 26, 2008 12:16 PM writes...

I have used CreateSpace to publish a book, and the process has been disappointing: Some unexpected print limitations along the way. Delayed order processing. Poor communication. Questionable billing procedures. Very slow website. Frustrating customer support (multiple emails always required to solve problems). Changing fee structures. Completely different than Amazon experience.

The one good thing is that the print quality seems to be good for the price.

Probably will not use for future book publishing unless they clean up their act!

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12. Frogman Noel on August 7, 2008 8:10 PM writes...

I have been with an in-demand publisher for 6 years, then put some books on

CreateSpace is a bit more demanding concerning format that Lulu...BUT DEFINITELY worth the extra effort. My most recent book showed up Amazon within 5 days.

I recommend it very highly. If you are not patient and willing to take more time to get it right...this may not be the place of you....

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13. MDahlberg on September 2, 2008 7:14 AM writes...

Their business concept is downright brilliant.
Unfortunately their web designers are not quite that good. There is a perpetual conflict between the instructions given by customer service (for example to click on the "submit" button) and the design of the website (that has no "submit" button after the content has been updated), resulting in weeks of delay and ever more communication between the author and customer service.
Once they fix that (and they are looking for web designers as we speak) it is the ideal partner for publishers and/or authors.

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14. MDahlberg on September 2, 2008 7:14 AM writes...

Their business concept is downright brilliant.
Unfortunately their web designers are not quite that good. There is a perpetual conflict between the instructions given by customer service (for example to click on the "submit" button) and the design of the website (that has no "submit" button after the content has been updated), resulting in weeks of delay and ever more communication between the author and customer service.
Once they fix that (and they are looking for web designers as we speak) it is the ideal partner for publishers and/or authors.

Permalink to Comment

15. Jeff on September 10, 2008 10:46 AM writes...

I really liked the creation process for my book through CreateSpace, understanding that all they really do is print what I send them. It took 3 proofs to get it right, but that was my fault, knowing they only print what I send them.

Customer service, on the other hand, is horrible. I ordered 20 copies of my book 10 days ago and have not gotten any information since then. I don't know if they have fallen in a black hole, if my request was ignored, or what. The title did appear on Amazon in short order -- a couple days -- and I already have one sale through Amazon, as well as one through my e-store. The "Member Dashboard" shows the proper royalties, though they have not paid anything yet. However, they do say they only pay in multiples of $20 and I have not hit that mark yet.

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16. nikki on November 19, 2008 3:25 PM writes...

Sent for my second proof at Createspace and my book came with someone else's inside my book cover too! I hope they have a better QA for the non-proof books. I would be very embarrassed if someone's "Poetry" book showed up with my Heath Study guide. Very annoyed, and there is no phone support so now I have to wait on them! Grrr. Plus, their website just went down. Frustrating!

Permalink to Comment

17. Fred on December 5, 2008 11:45 AM writes...

I'm having a absolutely terrible time with CreateSpace.
I'm trying to have a film put up for digital download only- no DVD. The tech support people are unable to grasp this concept on any level. They keep sending me DVD requirements, not download requirements. I'm on my 11th email thread with them. They keep sending along form letters.

I'm a day away from giving up on them.

Permalink to Comment

18. Jimmy Clay on December 30, 2008 9:31 PM writes...

My experience with has been excellent. I've published two books with them and have only paid for the proof copies. I do make sells on one of my book, not much but a few copies every month, and I do get a small monthly deposit into my bank account. The book that sells is actually a how to book on how to publish with CreateSpace. If you're interested you can find it on Amazon. It is called: "How to Self-Publish for Free with CreateSpace.Com: An Easy Get Started Guide." Good luck to everyone.

Permalink to Comment

19. Jimmy Clay on December 30, 2008 9:37 PM writes...

Sorry about the extra postings. I guess I clicked too many times. Bad habit.

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20. DrWex on December 31, 2008 1:01 PM writes...

Fixed. Partly it's an issue that the server is a little slow to respond to comment submissions.

It's interesting that this entry continues to get comments, more than a year after I wrote it. Thanks for adding your voice!

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21. Jeff Bach on January 23, 2009 6:25 PM writes...

I started using this PoD service when it was still Customflix. Once it got bought up by Amazon the cust srv stuff changed just like it always does. That is what happens when little grows into big.

Regardless of that though, I am now on my fifth title with Createspace. Reasonable prices, reasonable cs, and a reasonable workflow. For me, there's no other game in town, especially when you consider that part of their gig is an option to get your stuff listed in Amazon. No other site, including my own, has the reach and the traffic that Amazon does. Also love the lack of ten boxes sitting around my garage, the print on demand aspect has given me storage space back and the cash flow it improves is fabulous. I've never had a problem with ordering from their site. Never seen it slow. They have always paid me what I have earned via sales commission.

This is good stuff. Based on my five projects with them, I would be hard pressed to find anything even close.
Jeff Bach
Quietwater Films

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22. IPPY on February 5, 2009 11:02 PM writes...

CreateSpace still has not paid me for all sales I made for 2008. So much for net 30. Their report says they paid me as far back as 1/30 this year but the payment has not cleared my bank. If they continue to behave this way I am going to contact the BBB again about it. (I did in 2008, but no results). CreateSpace is a publisher of Amazon books, and I have had more sales of my books from LSI than I have with CS. LSI pays timely. BTW

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23. Eric on February 27, 2009 2:00 AM writes...

It's obvious that some people had good experiences, some had bad. Obviously the site is going to have bugs. It's also a fact that people don't know how to utilize new technologies efficiently.

Give it time, it'll catch on. Go CreateSpace and Lulu! Dominate the mainstream!

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24. Alberto on March 14, 2009 3:41 PM writes...

I've published both with Lulu and CreateSpace and both have provided excellent service. I've not experiened any problems as yet. I use them as publishers (for my work) and as printers when I publish other writers. I will write again if I experience any problems with CreateSpace.

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25. Philip Machanick on May 1, 2009 4:27 AM writes...

I've used CreateSpace for 2 books so far and would probably use them again mainly because they get you to Amazon reasonably fast, and I like POD (I don't like the waste of printing boxes of books ahead of demand).

Positives: Amazon search inside works for me, I can sell to markets way out of my personal reach, the cost to me of setup is very low (I know how to work to a spec, which helps).

Negatives: very slow web site, very expensive international shipping makes proof checking costly, no option of mixing colour and B+W in one book.

I updated a book that had a few typos, and it was back on Amazon within 2 hours of setting it as OK to sell on 21 April on CreateSpace (possibly less; I checked back after 2 hours). 10 days later, search inside still showed the typos so that is obviously still slow. (Go to and search for Danes in the book to see if they fixed that yet: there are no Danes in the story, only Swedes.)

I will probably use them again despite the imperfections. This is a no-frills service and works for what it does; don't expect hand-holding or help with marketing, design, etc.

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26. CD Noordhoek on June 12, 2009 1:51 PM writes...

I have used Lulu and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, they have the worst customer service in the world, That is if you can ever get that far, I have tried to contact them since Friday June 5th about a bad print job ( they put the pages together before ink dried, bleed over onto next page throughout the whole book ) and their Help e-mail address has been down, I have even sent them letters via snail mail and no response, before using Lulu please read comments in community under Forums category Support Escalation. I don't plan to ever go back and I still have many things pending with them but I am ready to cut my losses and move on, there not worth it.

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27. C.N. King on June 21, 2009 12:30 AM writes...

So far, my experience with CreateSpace has been relatively simple. I think the reason you guys who are saying that you didn't have a positive outcome with your titles is because you didn't advertise. Yeah, the book is on Amazon, but it's your responsibility to let people know it's there to sell. And I don't mean that harshly, please don't think that. I'm just thinking out loud.

I posted the link to my book. It'll be ready to sell soon. Check it out sometime!

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28. Sara Summer on July 28, 2009 2:34 AM writes...

I am deciding whether to go with either Createspace or Lulu.

From another web/forum where someone wrote: "Keep in mind that the ISBNs are not "true" ISBNs. They are not listed in Books in Print. As it was explained to me by a sales rep for Createspace, the company simply bought huge bulk ISBN numbers and recycles them. So if someone deactivates a product, that ISBN will be reassigned to a different project."

Recycled? Not for Books in Print? I am confused now. So does this mean it's a bad idea? Anyone have any idea, please clarify. Thanks!

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29. RCMoore on August 19, 2009 3:32 PM writes...

This has all been very interesting. In 2001 I used Iuniverse to POD my first novel ($99). Initially their customer service was C+, but over the years they've successfully upgraded their payment systems so sales records (usually 3 months back) are downloadable. Since then I've had the mixed fortune of having a small indie 'traditional' publisher publish another novel... misprints, awful promotion... nice folks but in over their heads. I'm back to considerign POD again, and obviously the industry has mushroomed since then. This debate on Createspace has been especially intriguing as they'd caught my eye... thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion.

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30. IndieMusician on September 12, 2009 9:36 AM writes...

Am I the only one who's noticed the exorbitant sign-up fees? The average CD sells for $10 (or less these days). They take $4.95 up front for each CD. Amazon takes 45% of the total $10, at $4.50 (which in effect becomes 90% of the remaining $5 after the initial $4.95). So, let's say an indie artist actually sells a CD for $10 on Amazon. How much does the artist get? $0.50! Ouch!

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31. David L. on October 24, 2009 10:17 AM writes...

I have Just come the create space website and had to study the Sales section on who gets what.
At this very moment Its quite a good deal.

If a CD was sold at $10,you would get $4.45
Ive only just joined so perhaps its better now.
Considering they print ,barcode, market and
sell on your behalf is quite a good deal.
For me at least now,gone are the times when you had to do all those things individually ,Like print, duplicate, market and sell CDs through not so public channels and also pay individually for those different services or( lucky enough to be signed up)Sod's law methinks.
Ideally I would like the fixed cost to be lower,
who knows maybe they will ,if the so call credit crunch thing really has had any effect on this area of industry.
Yes folks it is a better deal! from the comfort of your home ,always up to date and easy to edit,upload,and have full control of your product.
Forgive me If Ive overlooked over any thing ,I will have to get into the nitty gritty of Create Space,and write back.
Haven't looked on the book writing side of things,but hope it gets better for you author chaps out there.

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32. Sasha on October 27, 2009 9:40 AM writes...

createspace is the worst PRINTER I have ever come across. There workmanship is way below the worst quality printing and its a waste of time and money. My advise is save yourself the time money and heartbreak. I wouldnot buy a book orinted by them now that I have seen their bad ethics and horrific printing job.

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33. Mel on November 30, 2009 10:30 PM writes...

Did anyone have any problems entering their tax id number via Create Space? That makes me nervous...

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34. Jabberwocky on December 31, 2009 12:02 PM writes...

To those who have published with CreateSpace:
I was wondering about Createspace's royalties system, and after going to the website is seems pretty bad in terms of return to the author. How successful has the profit been on your books published through CreateSpace?

Permalink to Comment

35. Ingrid on January 2, 2010 9:39 PM writes...

I love CreateSpace. It has been a wonderful experience for me. It helped me accomplish a lifelong goal; to be a published author. My books are selling better than I expected. My only complaint is that you can only download 100mb. My work needs more space, but other than that, no complaints. I have shared it with my BFF and she is now publishing. We are very happy with the results.

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36. Christy on January 5, 2010 9:40 PM writes...

Help! I have done so much research on POD's that I am both confused and nervous about publishing my books through a POD. Everyone has had good and bad opinions of all the companies. some say that sales aren't as good either. EEK! Should I do this or not?

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37. Bruce R. Gilson on January 13, 2010 10:50 AM writes...

I've published three books via CreateSpace, and just about nothing of the negative comments I've seen here apply. Books show up on Amazon quickly, the printing looks good, and in general the only problem I ever had was that in the beginning, royalty payments were slow.

They recently instituted "expanded distribution" which means you can get your books sold on other sites than Amazon and CreateSpace itself. This may be good or bad, because the royalty on those sales is smaller, and I've seen some of them undercut the list price I've set on Amazon. But it's too new a feature to judge whetherit's good or bad.

All in all, I'm happy with CreateSpace.

Permalink to Comment

38. Bruce R. Gilson on January 13, 2010 10:58 AM writes...

Sorry for that triple post. Some problems here with submitting it.

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39. DrWex on January 14, 2010 10:33 AM writes...

Sorry for the site problems - the comments database can be very slow some times, which leads to timeouts and various redundancy problems. I've cleaned it up.

I'm astonished that this entry continues to get attention and feedback. I think it's great you all are trying out print on deman