Picture Book Publishing – IngramSpark or Create Space: Quality Comparison

Before I launch into my next comparison between CreateSpace and IngramSpark, let me show you a short video of the day I received the first proof of my debut picture book, Tercules, in the mail (from CS). The “funny story” I refer to in the video is the one I share in my last post.

I FINALLY received the paperback version of Tercules from Ingram. Ironically, it beat the journal that I published half a month earlier, which still hasn’t arrived. Neither has the hardback format of Tercules. My previous post discusses all about that.

Interestingly, there were things I liked better about the CreateSpace printing of my book, and things I liked better about Ingram’s. After the disappointment I’ve experienced with Ingram, my expectations were low.

While pictures won’t do the images justice, let me show a few to show the differences.

The cover:

The CS print is on the left, Ingram on the right. Aside from the spine being on the front cover (which was my bad…) the differences are interesting. The CS cover is more vibrant. The colors are brighter. The Ingram cover, however, shows the leaves in the background a little better. Also, as noted by another reviewer of Ingram vs. CreateSpace, I did notice that the CS cover is more apt to collect finger prints and minor scratches. Even after being handled a bit, the fingerprints aren’t very noticeable on the Ingram version. At the end of the day, I think I’d still go with CS’s cover.

Here’s a close up of the two:

Interior:

So while Ingram had a darker, less bright cover, the interior was bright and colorful. CreateSpace had a darker image… which was fine until I saw how nice and bright Ingram’s was. I also pulled up the images sent to me directly from my illustrator, Megan Frank, to see which matched her art the closest. While neither perfectly match her work, Ingram’s is the closest.

Because I’d honestly rather not work with Ingram, I emailed CreateSpace to see what they could do about this. This is their answer (which I appreciated):

Hello Marcy,

Greetings from CreateSpace.

One of the most difficult aspects of desktop publishing is color matching–properly converting the RGB colors into CMYK colors so that what gets printed looks the same as what appears on the monitor or the same as another printed copy.

Unfortunately, we do not currently offer color management for books, and cannot guarantee that the printed book’s color will appear the same as another copy.

Each computer screen and printer has the potential to display and print differently than the printers we use for our print-on-demand process. For this reason we cannot offer an alternative other than adjusting your file accordingly.

You may want to make the images a shade lighter within your native files and resubmitting the files in order for you to check what the proof copy will look like.

If you are not satisfied with the color that is printed, you may need to adjust the colors in your file until you find the correct shade when the book is printed.

I understand that this might not be the response you were hoping for and I truly wish that I would have been able to accommodate your request, unfortunately this is a matter beyond our control.

I appreciate your understanding in this regard Marcy.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions or concerns. We’ll do our best to aid you.

Thank you for reaching out to us. Have a good day.

Aren’t they lovely people? I got this personal email one day after I asked the question. If I were an illustrator, I would know how to do what they said, and I’d go in and do it and try again. Since I’m not (and don’t want to hassle my sweet illustrator again), I’m going to leave it.

About Author Images:

It’s not as easy to tell by this image (sorry) but strangely enough, the About the Author image looks pixilated on the Ingram print, while clear and crisp on the CS print. Maybe the brightness of their print had this affect on the author image… I’m not sure. But I don’t love that it looks that way on Ingram’s print. Strange considering how well the rest of the interior looked.

Ingram: Top CS: Bottom

Really, at the end of it all, either one would do perfectly well. Because I have seen them together, I’m going with the Ingram printing. However, I’m pretty sure for my next picture book (due in February!) that I’ll go with CreateSpace and just let my illustrator know to lighten the art a bit so it’s not so dark. But actually, my next book has lots of light, bright colors so it may not matter as much.

I hope this is helpful! I have a hard time finding much information on self publishing picture books. I’m happy to share my journey!

My next post in the series will look at hiring an illustrator. See you then!