Friday, May 20, 2011

CreateSpace Quality Issues, and Customer Service

If any of you actually follow me on Twitter (I'm up to over a dozen now! Haha.) you might have noticed a mention of some issues I'm having with CreateSpace. Since I won NaNoWriMo last year I got a coupon code for a free paperback copy of my novel. In February I decided to take them up on it.

I was pretty impressed with the initial print, so I did some formatting and editing in the months to come and ordered a couple more. The cover art for my book is pretty dark, and I noticed that with each successive printing the skin tone of my characters was more and more off. Sometimes it was too yellow, sometimes too red.

I sent an email to CreateSpace customer service, then found the number for their live support. The lady I talked to was very nice and offered to send me an overnight UPS envelope so I could return my most recent copy. She said that CreateSpace farms out their printing to several independent print shops, so no two copies will be exactly the same, but that they should at least be within an acceptable "tolerance" as far as colors go.

She said they would print a copy of my book in-house and compare it to the one I received to see if the variance was within their expected range. If not, (she didn't say this explicitly, but I assumed) they would replace or refund me for the off-color print.

Unfortunately all this happened on a Friday, so even though they did overnight me an envelope it was sent to my work address and I wasn't able to ship them the book until Monday. I watched the package make its way back to them, and I received an email when they got it.

I didn't hear anything from them on the day they received it, but they were nice enough to email me that evening saying they were still working on the in-house print comparison and that I hadn't been forgotten. This is a nice way to keep the customer in the loop.

Meanwhile, I just so happened to take a closer look at my original print, which since February has been passed around to a couple of people for beta reads, and I noticed something strange.

In case it's unclear what you're looking at, the laminate coating on the outside of my book's cover has started to separate and curl up on the edges. This book is only 3 months old. I'm concerned as to whether this is the kind of quality I can expect from all the physical copies of my book from CreateSpace. If so, I might have to stop printing from them.

Given, this particular copy is so many revisions behind that I'm not planning on ever selling or even giving it away, but what if one of my newer revised copies started to do this? Once the color question has been answered I may have to open up a new ticket regarding the laminate.

I have noticed over the course of the last 4 books I've had printed from CreateSpace that on occasion there are tiny bubbles in the laminate as well. I've never had to wait more than a week to receive my prints, and I have to wonder if some of the third-party printers for CreateSpace are sacrificing quality for speed.

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