Matte or Gloss varnish for book printing: Createspace now allows both, but which is better?

Createspace just announced that Matte cover finish is now available for print books, on new and existing titles.

For the past decade or so, that option was only available on Lightning Source.

So let’s talk about which one you should choose:

Matte is smoother and has less glare, but the colors are slightly muted. For non-fiction or more subtle literary fiction, or for simple book covers without a bunch going on, I think Matte seems more professional.

But a Glossy finish (what Createspace books have always been) bring out deeper colors and inks, so they may be better for detailed artwork or covers with a lot of photographic elements on them. In my experience, Glossy covers tend to curl with time in a way that Matte covers don’t, which can make them seem cheaper or less professional (but this will mostly depend on the printer and the paper being used I suppose).

The only way to really know for sure is to print out one of each, luckily an easy thing to do with Createspace:
Self-service Selection – It’s easy to select your cover finish preference. You also have the option to buy a standard sample book to help you determine which finish option you’d like for your book cover.

Continuous Availability – Change your cover finish selection at any time. Your book will be available in that finish within four hours and will remain available for sale during this time.

If you’d like to update your preference to Matte cover finish, visit your Member Dashboard –
and select your title. Then on your Project Homepage, under “Distribute”, click “Cover Finish” to make your finish selection.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter…

Because the big publishers will keep using even cooler printing effects such as spot varnish (glossing just the text) or embossed text (a slight 3D stamping) or special metallic inks like silver and gold, so your POD book still won’t have that WOW factor…

Unless you have a lot of money and invest in a short print run.

If you do – search on for a book printer – you probably have to order several hundred, but they can print and ship them to you, and it will probably cost less than $5/book.

If anybody knows of a better book printing service that lets you do special effects like these, please let me know in the comments.


  • Léonard Belmont Posted

    Hey Derek do you know how to create a real hard cover on createspace or they don’t give us the choice?

    • Derek Murphy Posted

      It’s not an option, you can use for just a few but it’s not cheap… still you could set up your hardcover there and it will make it to Amazon.

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