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CreateSpace is DEAD. Here's what you need to know.

Posted in: Understanding Publishing on May 6, 2019 2 Comments 💬

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As all writers know, the process of self-publishing a book is ever-fluctuating and evolving. Case in point: CreateSpace, one of the premier print-on-demand (POD) services for self-published authors, recently merged with Amazon’s KDP Print in late 2018. As CreateSpace was one of the go-to options for anyone aiming to print a self-published book, the switch left many in the lurch and confused.

That’s where this post comes into play. In this guide, we’ll look at the differences between CreateSpace and KDP Print, clear up any misunderstandings, and answer all of your lingering questions about the switch.

What happened to CreateSpace?

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For anyone who’s not already familiar, let’s do a quick recap. CreateSpace used to be a print-on-demand service for self-publishing authors. As far as print-on-demand services went, CreateSpace was a popular one: the company made it easy to create paperback versions of books, even providing neat bells and whistles such as expanded distribution and printed proofs to make it a well-liked choice among authors.

In 2005, Amazon acquired CreateSpace while it continued building its own POD service (KDP Print). In 2018, there were signs that CreateSpace might step aside entirely for KDP Print. And, in August 2018, that came true: it was announced that CreateSpace and KDP Print would merge completely. CreateSpace books would need to be moved onto the KDP platform, as CreateSpace would hitherto be obsolete.

In summary, KDP has completely replaced CreateSpace and taken over its core functions. Now, here’s why that matters to you.

Okay, so what does this mean for authors?

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First, you needn’t panic. KDP Print is an established platform and Amazon took many steps to make sure that the CreateSpace-KDP Print transition was smooth as possible. And the good news is, like we mentioned before, that KDP Print took on most of the features that had made CreateSpace so popular.

With this in mind, most authors have reacted to the merge in one of two ways:

  1. Transferred all CreateSpace paperbacks to KDP Print. On KDP Print, you’ll be able to publish both paperbacks and eBooks — and receive your combined royalties — on a single platform.
  2. Explored print-on-demand services outside of Amazon’s dominion.

So what can you expect to find if you decide to use KDP Print — and what are the similarites and differences between KDP Print and CreateSpace?

Similarities between CreateSpace and KDP

When merging CreateSpace and KDP Print, Amazon (for the most part) kept the best of both worlds.

Indeed, there are more similarities between CreateSpace and KDP Print than there are differences. KDP Print prints paperbacks, author copies, and proof copies for the same amount as CreateSpace. In addition to the printing facilities and delivery times remaining the same, these are other important aspects you can expect to remain unchanged:

  • ISBNs. Authors will still have the option to use their own ISBN, purchase discounted Bowker ISBNs, or obtain free ISBNs with KDP Print as the imprint.
  • Distribution and fees. Just as CreateSpace offered authors distribution to Amazon only (with a fee of 40%), and expanded distribution to stores other than Amazon (with a fee of 60%) — so will KDP Print. There is one key difference in regards to expanded distribution, which is outlined below.
  • Book cover and interior design tools. The same Word templates and Cover Creator tool that CreateSpace offered will still be available on KDP Print.

Differences between CreateSpace and KDP

Now, these are some of the key differences you will find between the two services:

  • Expanded distribution. If you want to make your KDP Print book available for expanded distribution, you cannot also opt out of Amazon. Expanded distribution with KDP Print means that you must also list your book on Amazon.
  • Royalties. On CreateSpace, royalties were paid every month, 30 days after the month in which they were earned. KDP Print, on the other hand, pays royalties 60 days after the month in which they were earned, meaning that any sales in February would be paid in April.
  • Non-standard trim sizes. KDP Print offers several nontraditional trim sizes that weren’t previously available on CreateSpace.
  • Updating books. If you upload an updated version of your book, you won’t lose the old version (which used to be frustrating if you’d already garnered many reviews and sales). The old version will continue to be available until the new version is approved.
  • Integrated sales dashboard. Publishing and accounting are combined for both Kindle and print versions of your books, so that the user experience is vastly improved!
  • Amazon advertising. While already available for ebooks, publishers will now also be able to purchase Amazon advertising for print books.
  • Local printing for Europe. Instead of printing and shipping from the US (as CreateSpace did), KDP Print will print books locally for European publishers.
  • Author copies. KDP Print lets you order author copies by adding them to your regular Amazon shopping basket, where they are treated as any other Amazon order. If your order is above Amazon’s minimum spend, or if you’re a Prime member, this should save time and money for you.
  • Expanded international distribution. Authors will now be able to distribute to Japan.

In general, most authors do end up switching to KDP Print, and most reports about the KDP Print experience are positive. We particularly recommend KDP Print if you want to distribute to Amazon, as you’ll end up saving on time and fees. (Distributing to non-Amazon online stores is another story. Jump here for our discussion of this course of action).

And here’s the great news: transitioning from CreateSpace over to KDP Print is very seamless, as you'll find out for yourself shortly in the next section.

How to switch from CreateSpace to KDP Print

If you decided that you want to continue with KDP Print, Amazon’s made it pretty simple to transition existing titles on CreateSpace to KDP Print. You might even say that it’s as easy as one, two, three, (and four).

Let’s get started.

  1. Begin by verifying your CreateSpace and KDP accounts on this page.
  2. Hit “Start your move” to begin importing your entire catalog from CreateSpace to KDP Print. Amazon will do it all for you at this point — the whole process should only take a minute or two!
  3. Double-check all of your ported data — just to make sure that Amazon imported everything correctly. This includes your titles, book covers, blurbs, and metadata.
  4. Double-check your pricing and distribution fields once everything is imported.

And that’s it! From this moment on, everything you do to print your self-published book should go through KDP Print — and once you make the switch, there’s no returning to CreateSpace.

Finally, a note on your metadata: KDP will offer you seven keyword fields, in contrast to the five that CreateSpace provided. That’s a great chance for added discoverability, so be sure to use them wisely. You can discover more about Amazon algorithms and ways to use them to your advantage in this free course.

Level up your Amazon algorithms

Sign up for this free 10-part course! Enter your email below and select 'Marketing - All You Need to Know About Amazon Algorithms' in the drop-down menu.

What are alternatives to KDP Print that you can explore?

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Of course, you may also decide that this is the perfect time to branch out and learn what exists beyond Amazon. Several other companies offer reputable print-on-demand services — each with its own pros and cons. These include:

Last year, we tested the quality of the four biggest print-on-demand services in the industry by sending a book to BookBaby, IngramSpark, KDP Print, and Blurb to be printed. Our comprehensive breakdown, along with the results (and winner) of our test, are in this post. We also go in-depth into our recommended distribution setup and considerations of royalties that may prove important to your decision.

Where to print your book — and making sure that you get the maximum quality of service and product — is an important decision that you’ll need to make if you’re not planning to only publish eBooks. When you get to this stage in your self-publishing journey, it’s better to be fully informed. We hope that this post has cleared some things up for you, but if you have any more questions and concerns, please leave them in the comments and we’ll be happy to answer them to the best of our ability.

Are you a self-published author who recently had to make the switch from CreateSpace to KDP Print? What did you think about the experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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C.D. Watson

KDP Print and CreateSpace differ in one other area: Under CreateSpace, my paperbacks appeared in Barnes & Noble's online store (for example) relatively quickly, usually within a few days. I just published my first paperback under KDP Print at the end of March...and it still hasn't appeared on the B&N site. I don't know where the problem is, only that the timeline is ridiculously long.

Meanwhile, a different paperback novel published via IngramSpark appeared on B&N within a couple of days, so I'm thinking the delay is on KDP Print's end.

LeoNora M. Cohen

I have generally been pleased with the transition to KDP from CreateSpace. Between the two, I have 21 bilingual children's books. However, KDP does not have distribution to Amazon Mexico (or other Latin American markets), which presents big problems for me. The books are set in a Mexican context and need to be available to schools and children there. One can order them from Amazon USA, but must pay shipping fees and duties. With CreateSpace, the books were readily available in Mexico. I wish KDP would open that market!

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