Self-Publishing through Createspace or Lightning Source

Today’s self-publishing industry has democratized the world of writing and publishing, giving authors control over their creative and financial futures.

At the heart of publishing is the printing and distribution of books. Two of the most popular print-on-demand (POD) companies are Lightning Source and Createspace. Here’s a brief comparison of features:


Createspace (CS)

Allows authors and small publishing entities to easily print, distribute and market their books at minimum cost mainly through Amazon channels.

•    12 standard black & white trim sizes; 7 color book trim sizes

•    Soft cover (perfect) binding & gloss laminate cover

•    No upfront costs; no set up fees; and proofs are the cost of the book plus shipping

•    $25 for changes to your book after approval

•    $25 for expanded distribution to libraries, academic institutions and bookstores

•    Set your own list price

•    Low cost / high royalty ratio

•    Automatic “no return” policy (bookstore disincentive)

•    Amazon sets a low wholesale discount (bookstore disincentive)

•    Free ISBN provided if you sell your book exclusively through Amazon channels, or you can provide an ISBN for expanded distribution

•    Upload predesigned PDF files or use the inexpensive a la carte options for book design & marketing

•    Automated free DIY book creation service

•    The CS community is generous with information, experience and resources; Amazon offers responsive support

•    Extensive online analytics plus dashboard to control over marketing content

•    Books are always available and customers ordering through Amazon have free Super Saver Shipping, and Amazon Prime® on eligible orders.

•    Seamless distribution to Kindle KDP and Createspace bookstores

Lightning Source (LS)

Offers authors and publishing companies more options in book sizes, printing options and distribution through, Barnes & Noble, plus Ingram and Baker & Taylor to bookstores and institutions

•   Library quality POD or offset printing

•   More trim sizes than CS, black & white, and color books

•   Binding: soft cover, hard cover, dust jackets, saddle stitch

•   Gloss or matte laminate covers

•   Set up costs: $37.50 setup plus $30 for proofs

•   $30 per file change

•  No design services

•   You must create a DBA or LLC publishing company and submit application

•   You provide an ISBN for each book

•   Amazon’s delivery time for LS books is typically longer than for CS books.

•   Distribution to, and through distribution partners, libraries, academic institutions and bookstores

•   You can choose to have a return policy

•   Adjustable wholesale discount for higher discount incentives for bookstores and distributors


Though many new authors dream of publishing their work through one of the mainstream publishers, this is an arduous and unrealistic goal for most. On the other hand, authors who enjoy writing and have an entrepreneurial mindset are rejoicing at the unprecedented opportunities self-publishing offers. Createspace and Lightning Source are just two of many POD resources that help make this possible.

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Shields Bialasik

Hi, I am Shields. I am the creator or LocalsGuide. The mission or my company is to provide a positive media platform for my community which in turn makes it stronger and more resilient. I hope you will enjoy and feel inspired to start your own LocalsGuide in your town or community.

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