Sunday, October 16, 2016

Barnes & Noble Nook Press Print vs Amazon CreateSpace

I have used CreateSpace, Amazon's print-on-demand (POD) service to publish three of my books in paperback. The way CreateSpace works is, you upload files for the interior of the book and for the cover, and Amazon then sells the books online. Unlike traditional publishing, they don't print multiple copies and wait for them to sell; they print single copies using an Espresso Book Machine only once someone has ordered a copy. However, the author/publisher can order bulk copies at a lower price directly from CreateSpace (not from and sell those copies themselves. This also makes it cheaper to get print copies for contest giveaways and to give reviewers.


Recently, Barnes & Noble decided to get into the act and announced that Nook Press would also let you create a POD book that would then be for sale on the Barnes & Noble online store.  I decided to try it. I uploaded virtually the same files for King of Trees that I had used on CreateSpace (I did have change to make the cover file a teensy bit smaller) and was able to publish using Barnes & Noble's Nook Press Print.

CreateSpace copy on left. B&N on right.
I ordered a copy from each vendor, and as you can see, the difference in appearance between the two is minimal. In real life as opposed to this not-that-great photo, the gold lettering on the B&N cover was a little brighter than it was in the CreateSpace cover. The only other concrete difference was in the back cover, which I thought was cleaner-looking on the Amazon copy. Note the bar code area on the back of the book.  CreateSpace does not print the price and Nook Press does.

Amazon left; B & N right

Some differences I observed:

  • On both platforms, the vendor sets a minimum price you can charge for the book, based on size, but interestingly, it was almost $1.50 lower on Barnes & Noble than on Amazon.  Of course, the royalty per book is lower, too, by almost the same amount. And, because of shipping costs, a customer might well pay more on B&N, as Amazon make CreateSpace books eligible for free shipping for Prime members. 
  • Both vendors let you do bulk orders at a lower price, but B&N sets a 125 copy minimum. Possibly, they use a different press for those orders, and not the Espresso. CreateSpace lets you "bulk" order as few copies as you like, but the shipping costs make it cheaper than retail only if you get at least 8 or 10. 
  • CreateSpace will distribute to Amazon in some other countries, and to other vendors, including B&N. Note that you make a teeny-tiny royalty for non-Amazon sales.  Nook Press only goes to B&N online. 
  • CreateSpace lets you order an actual print proof copy before you put the book up for sale on Amazon. If Nook Press does that, I could not find out how to do it. The only preview I could see was online. 
  • Amazon is better at tweaking the PDF files for you if there is a minor problem. Nook Press just states the problem and tells you to fix it.
  • I would give the Create-Space interface the edge over Nook Press, partly because I could not figure out a way to bulk order; there is a tab for Orders in the Nook dashboard, but all that happens when you click it is you get an empty screen that says "No orders yet." Because of that, I cannot compare the bulk order prices. Not that I would actually order 125 copies, but I would have liked to initiate the process to at least find out the per copy price. Update: I found the Order link! It was right near the Edit link. In spite of what the FAQ said (as I understood it), you can in fact oder just one copy; 125 is the maximum number, not the minimum. The bulk order price for KoT on B&N Nook is $6.92, versus $5.00 on Kindle. 
  • On the other hand, Nook Press does let you link the print book to an existing ebook during the publishing process, which CreateSpace doesn't do. Amazon does link the two copies up after a few days, but it's annoying that you have to wait and hope it happens. 
  • Nook Press was very slow to actually put my book on sale; it spent about a week in pending status. On the other hand, replacing the front cover of the Nook ebook (I got a new cover when I decided to do print) was really quick, but Amazon took several days to disseminate the new cover for the Kindle version after I had changed it in KDP.  That's not really a print book issue, but it's only fair to mention it.
  • I did not see any indication that B&N offers anything like Kindle Matchbook, which lets you give away (or sell really cheaply) the Kindle version of the book to anyone who buys the paperback.

From the help screens, it looks like if a Nook Press Print book sells enough copies, you can ask B&N to carry it in stores, but it doesn't say how many copies that is.

If you want to check King of Trees out online, here's the link for B&N, and for Amazon.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Carmen -

    thank you for a very logical, easy-to-understand, thorough comparison of these two... Precisely what I was looking for.
    You note (as I've experienced) that you don't really get a break on CS author copies, until you hit 8 or 10.. and then the break is actually just because of the shipping. You compare individual copy costs for the titles... is there a break in the copy price from NP at any point?

    1. It certainly doesn't look like it. I see the same price whether I set the counter for the "order" at 1 book or 10 books or 100 books.

      Thanks for the kind words! I should also mention my newest project TURNABOUT isn't in Nook Press print because it won't let me use the same ISBN for that book that I used for the CreateSpace version. That's really annoying because it's NOT an Amazon-assigned ISBN, it's one I bought. The rules on needing a new ISBN apply to format, and a 6x9 paperback should be able to have the same ISBN regardless of vendor!

    2. That is odd about the ISBN. From what I read here, Carmen was able to use the same ISBN for both the books with CS and Nook. Is that correct?

    3. Yeah, I did use the same ISBN for KoT CreateSpace and KoT Nook Press Print. But quite frankly, I don't know if that's because they changed the rule, or if I did something different in the order of publication.

    4. I see. Do you know if you checked the expanded distribution box for CS? Or maybe limited distribution channels to not use B&N for CS? I'm trying to figure out how to use CS and Nook with the same ISBN since it is the same book, same size and everything.

  3. I have had a few nonfiction books published in the traditional way through small presses. One gave an advance, though the royalty percentage was fairly small. Now I mostly publish ebooks through KDP, and I'm exploring options to do a print book of an ebook that has sold fairly well.

    If I go through KDP, it's pretty much distributed only through Amazon channels like the ebooks. CreateSpace gives an expanded distribution that will sell through B&N and others, as well as Amazon. Nook will only sell thru B&N, from what I understand.
    Ingramsparks is another option that sells worldwide and I have heard does a better job than CS expanded distribution. The catch is a $49 fee and $12 annual fee, which is relatively small but still different than the others with no such fees. You just have to figure out if you will sell more with Ingram than CS to make up for the fees and greater learning curve to use ingram over CS.

    Still another option is a crowdfunding platform like Indiegogo. With that you have to attract readers' pledges to purchase and when you get a certain amount, Indie handles everything like a traditional publisher.

    There are a few options to consider, and it's not always an easy decision. Some actually use a combination like CS for Amazon and Ingram for worldwide distribution - to give you even more options.

    1. I have not tried the KDP print option because it seems to me it's more limited than the CreateSpace methodology. But I find it interesting that Amazon seems to be trying to push authors to use a single unified platform for print and ebooks.

    2. That is interesting and you wonder if Amazon will one day phase out CS in favor of KDP. You're right KDP is more limited, but it does give you money for people even looking at your book sample online. In other words, you get paid something even when people don't download your book. I don't know if CS does that, does it?