Friday, 15 February 2013


So if you read this post you know what I'm talking about. If not, read this first and then come back ...

You back?

Okay. Firstly, I'd like to add how friendly and professional Createspace are being about this. They are also responding to me in a very timely manner, which I'm pleased about.

So ... last night I receive this in response to my complaint:

Hello Jessica,
Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry to hear about your print copy concerns for the book order received from the Book Depository. 
In order to track the error and investigate this issue more thoroughly, I would like to gather further details regarding the order you received. Please send additional details regarding the title ID, Book Depository order number, number of affected copies, and pictures if possible. Please also provide the product ID of the defective book. The Product ID can be found on the last physical page of the book under the bar code, and can be sent through the following link:

I really appreciate your patience and understanding in the matter and apologize for any inconvenience this information may present.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions or need help in the future, by clicking here:

We are always happy to help.
Best regards, ... 

I sent them everything they asked for, including photos:

Hello Patricia,

Thank you for getting back to me. I'm replying here as your support link on the website won't let me attach more than one thing.

Here is all the information you requested.
Title ID: 3846484
Book Depository order number: BDG-561-58751270869
number of affected copies: 5
product ID: 317296LV00001B/56/P

Photos are attached and labelled. I've compared the Book Depository copies with the Createspace copies. I've abbreviated Book Depository as BD and Createspace as CS in the labels for you to see which copy is which. The defects shown are present on all five BD copies.

Defects are:
-paper colour and quality not the same as I proofed
-smudgy images and/or double printed (the 'appendix' image, as you will see, seems to have remnants of my name over it)
-trim cut too wide, some pages are meant to be bled but they have white all around edges

Many thanks for your assistance.

Best wishes,
Jessica Bell

Colour difference. Bottom is nice
CS copy. Top is Book BD copy.

Photo quality. Left CS. Right BD.

Image defect. Top CS. Bottom BD.
See bits of my name printed over it?

Image defect. Left BD. Right CS. What's with that smudge?

Trim is cut too wide. See the white edges?
These pages are meant to be bled.

Pretty shitty, right? Anyway ... CS replied to this with:

Hello Jessica,

Thank you for contacting us with images regarding your recent order from Book Depository.

I received your images and can see that we need to do some more research. I am connecting with our Technical Services team in order to get the best answer. You will hear from us within one to two business days. I really appreciate your patience.
Best regards,

What do you think? Do you think this is only a one-off thing? I hope so. But my gut is telling me it isn't ... 

UPDATE: Click here for results.


  1. They're being professional about it, but the original issue shows a profound lack of professionalism with a side of 'let's try to sneak this past naive self-published authors'. I'm disappointed because I had considered self-publishing my recently finished novel both in ebook format as well as in print, with print to be handled by Createspace. I'm seriously reconsidering giving them any of my business.

  2. I'm glad they're responding so quickly. This may make them think twice about cutting corners. Keep us posted.

  3. I think it's a good sign they're responding so quickly. Hopefully they'll be able to solve the problem. And then you can check on it later to be sure it's really fixed.

  4. It's good to know the CS representative appears to be working in a professional manner to resolve this problem. And I'm glad you are raising awareness for self-published authors. With no one representing the interests of the self-pubbed author, it's truly up to him or her to follow the process through, beyond the finished deal. Such a good thing for all of us to know. Good luck, Jess. Looking forward to hearing how CS makes this right.

  5. I don't know what the answer is to that. I'm not sure why the answer though is to assume they purposely do this. They'd lose business pretty fast if they did. Authors would've heard complaints and received bad reviews for print screw ups.

    It'll be interesting to see what they finally say.

    Though I've run into a lot of businessses that cut corners.

  6. I almost wonder if they subcontracted and THEY are getting screwed too. It IS good that they are responding so quickly. Also a good heads up for authors to stay vigilant.

    1. That could very well be the case, Hart. If it's not their wrong-doing, I will be SO RELIEVED. I'm hoping it's a surprise to them too. But I've had other authors coming out of the woods saying they've experienced the same thing in the past ... :-( We'll see what happens I guess. Some people are also saying that I shouldn't be making this public until I know an answer. I disagree. I'm not saying ANYTHING wrong here. I have a legitimate complaint that affects SO MANY PEOPLE. PLUS nothing gets noticed or fixed in this world anymore unless you make a fuss. And it's not like I'm putting Createspace down entirely. I make it very clear that I'm super happy with the product they produce on their own turf.

  7. I agree with HART - I am sure that CS subcontracts out their printing services. It's not uncommon for subcontractors (in any business) to cut corners, if they think they can get away with it. The professional way that CS is handling this - and that they're actually trying to find the root of the problem, not just offering you a refund/replacement - says that they're not intending to deliver inferior products.

    1. I think it's excellent that they are trying to find the root of the problem. I would be shocked if they didn't. But who knows how long this has been going on? Even if it's not their fault, which is quite likely, it needs to be sorted out.

  8. I'm surprised they did not seem horrified; in other words, they've seen this before. They're responding, which is good, but they've offered nothing to rectify the problem. They should be falling over themselves to send you a proper edition, and maybe one to every person who received an inferior copy from that source, wherever it might be. But that would set a precedent they do not want to follow in the future. Sounds to me like they're only mildly interested in this.

    1. LOL. Well ... I think it's only natural to try and "save face" :)

  9. It's funny what Hart said; I was thinking the same thing. One positive is that they are looking into it and being some what cordial. It's a pain in ur ars, though, I know. :( Good for you for standing up and pointing it out. Wonder how many other times this has happened?

    1. Thanks, Sheri. I don't think I would like to know the answer to that!

  10. They probably won't ever find out what went wrong, but at least they admitted there was a problem.

  11. I asked for replacement copies. And this is what they said:

    "Thank you for coming back to us regarding your replacement inquiry.

    I just wanted to check in and let you know that we are still investigating this issue, and you have not been forgotten.You should receive a response to your original inquiry soon, and I sincerely appreciate your continued patience."

    So, despite what they have seen, they're not even willing to send me new copies until they know what's happened? This is weird.

  12. The whole thing is still pretty shady.

  13. Listen to your gut. Though they do look like they care. That's promising.

  14. Wow, there's no denying those photos. Hope they get to the bottom of it.

  15. I'm glad they're being professional and friendly - that's a huge plus.

  16. I'm so glad you're doing this, Jessica! Tami's right about the subs thing. Common business practice, and it would've just kept on happening if we hadn't called attention to it! THANKS from all of us who use Createspace--and possible CS as well! :o) <3

  17. As others have said, this is a subcontractor issue. It's probably how BD is able to not charge shipping--by printing their files with locally sourced printers close to the shipping point. This means, of course, that there's possibility of quality variances.

    I've been considering making a special, illustrated version of my novel, but I'm having doubts now.

    I've worked directly with printers for years on everything from full-color magazines to posters and brochures (at one job I did both graphic design and editing). I know that every set of equipment has its own vagaries in terms of dot gain, bleed tolerances, trim. It's almost impossible to have quality control over images when you can't work directly with the vendors.

    I think my take-away is beware of interior graphics. I know bold line art holds up better across machines better than greyscale--which will darken or wash out with dot gain or loss.

    And maybe I should be doing some basic tutorials on print production over at my blog. Self-pubbers need some basic knowledge so they create designs that reproduce consistently well.

    1. I understand where you're coming from. But firstly, BD is owned by Amazon. Secondly, despite me ordering from BD in the UK, guess where they were printed? Yup. USA. It just doesn't make sense.

  18. CreateSpace is regarded as one of the best POD publishers out there by industry professionals. Of the agents who are now offering self publishing services, nearly all use CreateSpace. I hope this is a shoddy subcontractor who is taken to task.

  19. Hi Jess - this is interesting to follow along to .. and I sort of give them the benefit of the doubt for now - but who knows ... supply chains are a right mix of muddle ... as we've found out with our food.

    Thanks for posting about it and keeping us updated ... cheers Hilary

  20. Just just proves that with any distribution/printing source you use, you should do a quality check of the books coming from partnered sources. This can happen with any company.

  21. Thank you for this series of posts. I also have published through CreateSpace. While the majority of books are of high quality, I recently had a book signing where I noticed that about 10% of the books were not of equal quality. I suspect also that CreateSpace utilizes multiple printers to fulfill their orders. In addition, I have had complaints that some purchasers have been told that the book is "out of stock" and it took up to three weeks to receive their copies. Not acceptable for a POD publisher.


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