Last year’s launch of Ingram Spark—the new publishing portal from the biggest and most experienced print on demand supplier anywhere—got off to a rocky start.
Although many people anticipated that Ingram would eventually consider augmenting their publisher-oriented supplier, Lightning Source, by creating another service oriented toward authors.
(In fact, for years Lightning Source had a notice on their website advising authors to go elsewhere for their books, since it was never set up to accommodate the needs of single-book authors.)
And that’s why I was optimistic about Spark. When they launched I interviewed Robin Cutler, Manager of Content Acquisition at Ingram. Although I found a lot to like about Spark, there were some serious obstacles that would keep a lot of indie authors from using the service.
I’ve kept in touch with Robin since then, and we talked again about whether authors would be able to choose between Spark and Lightning Source, and we’ve continued to talk about some of these issues.
The most troubling to me was the fixed discount that Ingram had set for all Spark authors: 55%. This makes sense if your aim is to sell books through the bookstore distribution system, and that’s what Ingram is known for.
But now that they are also a supplier to self-publishers, it seemed to me that more flexibility was needed. After all, there are a lot of self-publishing authors who don’t sell through bookstores, since they have other ways of vending their books. These authors would never choose to go with Spark if they were forced to accept the 55% discount.
Breaking News: Change Is Here for Spark Discounts
That’s why I was very excited to hear from Robin that this situation is about to change.
Starting on Thursday, January 9, IngramSpark publishers will now have two wholesale discount choices in setting up their titles for POD distribution—55% and 40%.
This choice of discounts will accommodate many more indie publishers. Even though Spark will not offer a “short discount,” the standard retail discount of 40% is both reasonable and on a par with other suppliers to this market.
This is great news for indie authors whose sales can benefit from wide distribution. It also better positions Spark as an alternative for CreateSpace, the most popular platform for indie authors.
Combined with Ingram’s reach to 133 countries, and the possibility that it will mature into a single point for manufacture and distribution of your print books and ebooks, Spark has real upside potential.
And for those authors who see a real future for themselves in publishing their own books or even the books of others, once you can project a growing list of titles, there’s the business-oriented Lightning Source available.
Robin also addressed the problem of Spark’s low payout on ebooks:
We are also reviewing our ebook discount schedule in hopes we can make some adjustments there going forward but that is still in the works.
This is all good news. As the self-publishing industry matures, we’re going to see a variety of solutions for authors, from formatting and printing to distribution and fulfillment. This continuing innovation is going to allow more indie publishers to reach their goals.
With this change to Spark’s discount, are you more likely to try out the service?