Comparing and Calculating IngramSpark and Amazon CreateSpace Author Royalty

It can be tough to choose how to distribute your books and, to make it even more complicated, you can use combinations of services to maximize your marketing and profits. Lots of self-publishers sell their book directly to Amazon using CreateSpace and distribute elsewhere with IngramSpark because they think that they make more money on Amazon by doing that. A quick test showed me that isn’t true.

How to calculate royalty

There is a formula for calculating royalty, and here it is:

List Price – Discount – Print Cost = Publisher Compensation / Royalty

I used IngramSpark’s Publisher Compensation Calculator to determine the cost of a 6×9, 280-page paperback book: $5.44 profit. When I plugged these same numbers into CreateSpace’s Book Royalty Calculator, I got $4.78, which is 66 cents less.

Let’s take a look.

IngramSpark royalty calculator

Here’s what IngramSpark’s publisher compensation calculator looks like and the results for my 6×9, 280-page paperback book. I’m applying the 30% discount (to distribute to online retailers) because I want to see how much it will cost to distribute to Amazon in particular. (But this applies to B&N, iBooks, Kobo, GooglePlay, and other online retailers.) If I was marketing to bookstores I’d have to set the discount to 53% and enable book returns.

(List Price – 30% IngramSpark Discount – Print Cost = Publisher Compensation)

$14.99 – $4.50 (30%) – $5.05 = $5.44

IngramSpark Publisher Compensation Calculator
Click to calculate your royalty.

CreateSpace royalty calculator

As you see from in the table below, Amazon takes 40% of the list price. (They may discount your book, selling it for below that price, but you will always get the 40% of list price.)

A little more about the table: Don’t use Expanded Distribution–40% discount doesn’t work for bookstores, who require 53% and a returns program, and you only need to give the online retailers 30%. The CreateSpace store might look attractive to you, since you get 80% of list price, but nobody really shops there. You’re better off selling on your own website with an ecommerce widget from a service like Gumroad.

CreateSpace Sales Channel Percentage Chart

So, based on the 40% of list price, here are the results for the same 6×9, 280-page paperback book.

(List Price – 40% CreateSpace Discount – Print Cost = Publisher Compensation)

$14.99 – $6 (40%) – $4.21 = $4.78

CreateSpace Royalty Calculator compared with IngramSpark
Click to calculate your royalty at CreateSpace. (Choose ROYALTIES tab.)

CreateSpace’s calculator does not specify the print cost, but you can do backwards math or go to their Member Order calculator to find it.

Instead of doing the backwards math to find the print cost, which is not provided in the Print Options calculator, above, you can use the Member Order Calculator.

CreateSpace Member Book Price
Click to calculate how much you’d pay at CreateSpace. (Choose BUY COPIES tab.)

CreateSpace Royalty Calculator

Of course, I want to make $5.44 per book instead of $4.78 and, if my book is a hot seller,  Amazon is unlikely to list it as out of stock. But if it languishes, it may make sense to move it to CreateSpace to keep it in stock and take advantage of their large customer base.

Final Comparison

Again, here’s the formula.

  1. List price is $14.99, which is the same on both platforms, minus
  2. Discount, which is 30% for IngramSpark and 40% for CreateSpace, minus
  3. Print cost, which is $5.05 for IngramSpark and $4.21 for CreateSpace


CreateSpace requires a higher discount (or commission) for sales to the Amazon store and a lower print cost. IngramSpark offers a lower discount and is more expensive to print, and comes out 66 cents ahead.

How to make the most money in the Amazon store

This post is about making the most money in the Amazon store and my findings point to IngramSpark (66 cents more per book!) and against using CreateSpace for maximizing profits on per-book sales.

Bookstore sales

Authors can use IngramSpark to distribute paperbacks to Amazon (which this post is all about), but also all the rest of the online retailers, including Barnes & Noble and IndieReader. But if I want bricks-and-mortar sales I would need to set the discount to 53% and enable book returns. CreateSpace’s Expanded Distribution offers 40%. No good for bookstores!

Why use CreateSpace to distribute to Amazon?

The disadvantage of using IngramSpark to distribute to Amazon is that, if your book isn’t just flying off the (virtual) shelves, Amazon might mark your book as Temporarily Out of Stock or Ships in n Days status. So, understandably, you may want to use CreateSpace to reach Amazon in order to keep your book active in the highest-volume bookstore on the planet.

Why use IngramSpark to distribute to Amazon?

As we’ve seen in this post, the advantages of using IngramSpark to distribute to Amazon is financial. Who doesn’t want to make more profit from selling their products? But IngramSpark also offers these benefits.

  • Enables pre-orders on Amazon (CreateSpace, strangely, does not)
  • Higher print quality
  • Option to turn on 53% discount and returns program if you want to sell to bookstores

Which will you choose?

I welcome your thoughts and questions on this topic. Want more vendor comparisons and self-publishing tips? Sign up for my email news and get my Consumer’s Guide to Self-Publishing Tools and Services and weekly updates direct to your inbox.

14 thoughts on “Comparing and Calculating IngramSpark and Amazon CreateSpace Author Royalty”

  1. Carla, thanks for this informative analysis. I’m currently making this very decision for my first novel. How does sales volume work into this? I’d be happy to earn a smaller royalty if Amazon (with their sales and promo tools) would generate higher volume. I’ve read some experienced authors use both — Amazon for US online distribution and IS for international and other retailers. As well, IS apparently prints a higher quality book, so use them for your own sales and signing copies. They will also produce a hard cover version, if you have the need. Any thoughts on how on how these other points factor into decision making?

    1. Wow, fabulous feedback, Carla. Thank you. I’ll be sure to follow up on your suggestions. I was not aware of your freebie consulting. Fifteen minutes with you must be like gold. Will I find how that works on your site?

  2. I visited the Ingram Spark website and it seemed to be oriented to large publishers. I was stumped when it asked for an ABA Routing number? What’s that? I am not a member of the American Booksellers Association. I’m going back to CreateSpace. At least they understand how to deal with one lonely author.

  3. Hi Carla

    Thank you for this brilliant blog post.

    My situation is that I have my book printing with Createspace. I have the book (same ISBN) ready on IS and would like to swap, but have a couple of doubts that prevent me doing so:
    1. I am concerned that the book may not appear on Amazon for a while.
    2. I am concerned that my existing reviews may be lost.

    Can you explain what would be the actual process to follow? What to do, order of doing…
    If there is a time when the book isn’t available how long would this be for?

    The ebook version locked into the 90 day thing with Amazon and is fine to stay as is.

    – Jono.

  4. Hi Carla, thank you for the quick and detailed reply.

    Following your advice I have just enabled distribution on IS, and on KDP confirmed that auto renew is not checked.

    I’ve also done the sums for my print book, and it definitely appears that I would also get more per Amazon sale with IS (than with CS)…

    Would you be able to expand upon why I should not now disable the CS book? My assumption is that if I were to disable it, then IS would determine that I am not currently offering the book through CS, and they (IS) in this case would then distribute to the Amazon channel, and I would get more per sale.

    I don’t understand why I wouldn’t do this if the returns are better! (other than the not showing up as available/in stock thing, perhaps you are one step ahead of me and are not confident that I would show up as in stock on Amazon? – fine if that is the reasoning, I would just like to understand the rationale!)

    The only (other) things that would stop me putting the CS print book on standby are:
    – concern about time being missing from catalogue.
    – losing existing reviews.

    Are these valid concerns? Am I missing something else here!?

    Thank for your help, apologies for lots of questions!

  5. I am facing a similar quandry and all comments are welcome. In my case, it’s a colour-photograph heavy book (about 170 pages) and the difference in cost between IS and CS is DRAMATIC (according to my calculations about $9 IS to $21 CS!!!!) While, on surface, that would seem to make the decision easy, I am very concerned about the comment that Amazon would mark the book as “out of stock” if it isn’t “flying” out the door (whatever that means). Although I could go JUST ebook, I’ve already had several people ask for a physical book when it comes out (due to subject matter).

  6. Hi Carla –
    Useful, thank you. I’m already using CS for my series (no expanded distribution), with their free ISBNs. If I wanted to set up with IS, I know I’d need new (paid-for) ISBNs; but then I’d have one book with two ISBNs. Is that a problem, do you think?

  7. I am published exclusively on the IngramSpark platform with two books and am about to put out a third… and I thought the 55% discount, which I have on all versions (ebook, paper and hc) was de rigeur. I’m sorry if you made this explanation obvious and I didn’t discern, but are you recommending a standard 30 percent discount for all versions of a book offered on the IS platform?

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