Why I Left CreateSpace

On 2020-10-01 by Karen M. Dillon

I don’t think I ever posted about this, but a while ago I stopped publishing my books through CreateSpace and switched over to Ingram.


Here’s the story of why I decided to make that move.


So, it was around the time that I was publishing my third book and spend a few weeks having a back and forth conversation with the CreateSpace customer support guys in relation to their (at the time) new policy regarding barcode replacement.


I made a pretty big deal out of it for a few reasons:


  1. The barcode was replaced without me receiving any notification of an error or any notification of a change made to my covers
  2. The barcode that was used to replace the one uploaded contained a blank price identifier, which is basically a pointless code on the end of a barcode that states “No set Price” when it’s scanned.
  3. A blank price identifier is completely pointless and serves completely no purpose and it is NEVER used on published books given the fact that it is pointless
  4. When I asked CreateSpace for advice on what happened, they spent 5 emails skirting around the issue, providing vague non-answers and more or less not answering my questions in any way really.


So, after much back and forth I decided that I would no longer publish through CreateSpace.


In the emails I shared with various customer support member I raised my concerns and even mentioned the fact that they had violated the terms of the member agreement, copyright law and intellectual property rights laws by modifying a fully completed cover without the consent of the copyrights holder, which was me.


It took me sending an email to their copyrights infringement department to get any kind of decent response on the issue and I was basically told that they (CreateSpace) do not consider the barcode to be a part of the cover design but a part of the printing process and therefore they are within their right to modify it when they see fit.


The above is completely inaccurate. Yes the barcode provides a functionality. No it is not the responsibility of the printer (CreateSpace) to place the barcode it is the responsibility of the Publisher (me). As it was uploaded by the publisher (me) on the completed book cover design they (CreateSpace) were not within their rights to change even a pixel on my cover without my consent and to do so did indeed violate my rights as the copyrights holder.


But in the final email from them I was advised that they would never force anyone to use one of their barcodes. If I didn’t want to use it all I had to do was not approve my proof and thereby not publish my book. Because approving my proof approves the modifications they have made, which I flat out refused to do.


So in the end I told them that I would not approve any changes I did not make or consent to and that I would rather remove all of my books from their site and close my account.


CreateSpace’s new policy, no matter what they would like to believe, is in violation of users rights.


The pre-existing arrangement that CreateSpace has with its users is that if there is an empty box on the back of the book cover CreateSpace will use this blank box to place a barcode for the book. They are only supposed to do this when the box is blank and not when there is a fully functional barcode already there. If there is a blank box it is agreed that CreateSpace can place a barcode as that is the reason for which the box was placed there by the cover designer.


However, if the book cover is fully completed with a functional barcode there is no reason for CreateSpace to take it upon themselves to superimpose their own barcode over the one already provided.


To do so is the equivalent seeing a picture and just drawing your own little doodle over it. It is an infringement on intellectual property rights and copyrights as they have taken it upon themselves to modify an image without first obtaining the proper consent.


So, anyway, the funniest part of this whole ordeal actually happened when I received a copy of Josh’s third book from Amazon, which was after I removed my books from CreateSpace and moved to Ingram instead.


Some backstory; so, the excuse that CreateSpace used regarding why they now had this replace all barcodes with their own barcode policy was because they were receiving a large number of complaints from retailers of books printed through them stating that the barcodes on a large number of CreateSpace printed books didn’t scan correctly. So booksellers had to print their own barcode stickers and place them onto the books before they would scan and they were tired of having to do so and wanted CreateSpace to do better checks before allowing books through with non-functional barcodes.


A few points on this:

  1. The large majority of books published through CreateSpace actually use the CreateSpace generated barcode
  2. If a person uploads a cover that includes a barcode, the barcode is checked for functionality as part of the automatic checks and proof process run by the system and returns an error if it doesn’t scan correctly so that the upload can be corrected by the user
  3. If a person doesn’t upload a cover that includes a barcode, CreateSpace just adds one to the cover and doesn’t advise if it scans correctly as they make the assumption that it does as they were the ones who added it
  4. CreateSpace barcodes include a blank price identifier (as mentioned earlier), which is a useless addition to a barcode and can cause scanning errors when added to a barcode


All of the above would lead to the conclusion that the errors the booksellers reported were more likely to be coming from the CreateSpace generated barcodes than the user uploaded ones…at least that’s the conclusion that it led me to.


So, a few weeks after I remove my books from CreateSpace Josh decides to approve the proof for his third book with the barcode that CreateSpace added to his cover.


I ordered a copy of his book from Amazon and it was sent to me from a third party seller. The book I received had a barcode sticker over the CreateSpace barcode (the sticker added by the seller was the same barcode minus the blank price identifier). I found this hilarious as it just further proved my suspicion that the issue was being caused by the replacement barcodes.


Anyway, in conclusion, I moved my printing to IngramSpark and am having a much better experience.


That’s the end of my ranting.


Until next time,




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