O.K., so I had been waiting to hear back from IngramSpark in regards to a problem I had encountered upon opening the remainder of a shipment I had received back in December of 2013. The problem was that out of 100 hardback (known as Case Laminate) books in said shipment — roughly 75% were damaged. They had wrinkled, wavy pages due to what looked like a too-tight roller during production…was my guess. The order had cost me roughly $600.00 and some change, and I was not about to try to peddle books which had any type of flaw.
Being as how I had not opened the last two boxes till I had sold the contents of the first box (TIP: Always inspect full order immediately) it was sometime in late January that I discovered the rejects. As there is no immediate customer service, as mentioned previously, I left an email I knew I could only wonder as to when it might be answered. Maybe three or four days later, I received a reply, and an actual name, including a more direct email with which to correspond. I was asked to forward box info, as well as pictures of damage, so it could be forwarded to the print techs for them to substantiate damage, and perhaps figure out it’s cause. The customer service rep explained that I would most likely have to rip all of the covers off, and send just those back. I replied that that seemed like a bad jinx to subject my “babies” too…and besides that, I didn’t want to waste the time of doing all of that work to almost 70 books. Shipping labels were emailed, printed out, and the shipment sent back.
I next sent the tracking notice of when the shipment had been received at the Tennessee plant, and left an email with the customer rep. That was February 14th, 2014. Not hearing from said rep for almost another whole week, despite another reminder email, and a phone call…I again went back to the main email system and left a generic message for the company as a whole — stating of course, my displeasure with the companies attention, or lack thereof. The rep called back finally, and stated he had sent me an email the past week. I asked him to resend it, but he had some excuse as to why he could not generate that “sent” email. He said they had decided to reship me a whole new batch…really? Wow, how nice! But then went on to say that if I ever received a shipment like that again, they could not guarantee that they would reprint my order again for me, as they were so graciously doing for me now…as it may just be that the color saturation was too much for the fast presses to handle, they surmised. This sounded ridiculous to me. I asked, how can you offer a service/product, with no guarantees as to it’s quality? He suggested perhaps I needed to move up a notch to the “premium color package” which really was nothing more than going from like a 50# stock, up to a 70# stock. The cost? A mere extra $3.00 + per copy.
O.K., I said, let me ask you a few questions. I asked, how many picture-books do you print? Tons he answered. And what type of package do they order? The standard package, he admitted. (Which is what I had ordered). O.K. I said, and final question, have you ever seen this happen with any of their orders? He answered no. I asked, why was an earlier order I had received fine, and why could they not then guarantee the quality of any future orders? He explained things about end rolls (paper) and how you might get variations in stocks depending on what orders piggy-backed on other orders. But he kept returning back to the argument that any large order I may place, which suffers some type of printing disorder…would be subject to approval, and would not be guaranteed a do-over by the company. I asked why would the company offer such a service if it could not back the quality of the printing order? He mumbled something about color saturation again…and picture-books being the problem. And variations. And variables. Before he got off the phone, he promised approval for this one time at a do-over, and said he would send an email confirming shipment of my new replacements. Almost a week passed, before getting that particular email, and at this point, it is now March 08th, and I am still not in receipt of any replacement books.
So, two things to consider: 1: Picture-books, cook books, and anything laden with extra color, graphics, etc., may have extra problems. 2: If you are just printing standard paperback, I am sure you would receive a quality product, and would encounter few problems. Also, they have excellent shipping practices, and charge a very nominal fee for setting up your file, and only charge $12 per year to keep said file in their database, which is then available for printing year-round.
The only big set-back, especially for fledgling authors, is the stress and tension induced by not having any type of customer service. DO NOT EXPECT ANY HAND-HOLDING! They do not even know they are dating you! You are one of many…and you can only be grateful for what they can deliver, when they deliver, and nothing more…as they very much play on a very large field.
It is nice to get quality printing, affordably delivered right to your very own door…and they do distribute case laminate books to online retailers (such as Amazon) which CreateSpace does not do. So if you really want to see your book carried this way…IngramSpark is the only way to go. They also advertise that they have 39,000 on-line affiliates, book-buyers/retailers, librarians, schools, etc., which you may catch the attention of, by having your title listed in their catalogue. As of yet, I do not know whether this will be an advantage I will ever fully appreciate!
Many people, on finding out the particulars of creating an actual “print version” of their work, are choosing to solely go the route of eBook publishing–what my next blog will be about!
The above information was learned while producing the book ‘Spoiled Pink’, a picture-book for children 3-8. More info can be found at http://www.thespoiledpinkbook.com or on Goodreads.