Breaking News: New Ingram Spark Discounts for Indie Publishers

by | Jan 8, 2014

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?

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. James E. Kyles

    I’m still out of the publishing business because companies like IngramSpark is trying to make all the money… they have yet to become author friendly… failing to realize that authors are the people who keep them in business. Charging such an excessive price to print book and then forcing a 40% trade discount is their way of saying you need me, I don’t need you… authors are not that important to us. Just saying…

    • Joel Friedlander

      James, thanks for your comment. Trying to make a profit as a book publisher can be very challenging, but you need to realize that the people who keep Spark in business are book buyers, not authors. Their print prices are very fair, and on a par with all other print on demand vendors that I know of. Do you know someone who is a lot less expensive? I’d love to hear about it. And 40% discount is pretty standard in the US for retailers

      • James E. Kyles

        The main issue here is not the discount… it is the force behind the discount. Any company claiming to give authors FULL control over their publishing efforts but FORCE them to offer a certain discount, is lying about giving them full control over their publishing efforts. Besides, independent, self publishing authors should NOT be forced to offer any discount at all unless, of course, the company forcing the discount is benefiting from the discount. This is common sense logic.

  2. James E. Kyles

    Personally, 40% is still too much, especially since my cost per book is so darn high. IngramSpark would be much more successful by allowing short discounts of 20% or more. Heck, it’s already costing me $12.50 per book to print and they expect another 40% in trade discounts… This means that my book would have to be priced out-of-the-market to make a reasonable profit… Heck, I’ll go with CreateSpace first or just give up writing altogether. Greed is an amazing thing.

    • Joel Friedlander

      James, I know it can be frustrating, but I think you are misunderstanding the entire role of discounts in the book distribution system, which are generally unrelated to “greed” but exist due to financial realities. It sounds to me like your book may not have been strategically planned, if you’re left in the position of not being able to make a reasonable profit at a price that works for your market. You might want to check out this article, which goes into detail about discounting: Self-Publishing Basics: Understanding Book Discounts.

      • James E. Kyles

        I have not misunderstood anything. I fully understand the role of discounts in the book distribution system. I also understand that overcharging to print a book and then forcing an excessive trade discount is the essence of greed. I even understand when trolls are posting to cover up the lies and deception being put forth. Thanks but no thanks.

  3. Toni Ressaire

    I’m an indie publisher, and I’ve been following this thread since it began over a year ago. I had met Robin’s colleagues in Frankfurt just after Spark launched. I was so excited; I was sure this was an answer to indie publishing woes.

    I didn’t start using Spark immediately because I was waiting for them to work out the bugs in their system. I found this thread and kept watching and going to their site every now and then to see how things were evolving. I even contacted the company and told them my concerns and that if they addressed those concerns I would start publishing with them right away.

    Well, I’m now afraid that the Spark division is going to be a flash in the pan–another large company starts an innovative project that bites the dust. I believe they have not had the success they hoped and so they are now diverting resources. At least that’s my guess.

    What’s so sad to me is that this company really has the resources to compete with Amazon. If they would just change a few things they could blow Amazon out of the water. I think I’ve actually written that before here and listed the few things they need to change.

    When they started the promotion this year that eliminates the $12/year fee for ebook distribution, I thought they were moving in the right direction. Now I hear these woes about customer service–it indeed almost breaks my heart.

    I really, really want to see Spark succeed. Ingram is a great company, and Robin is passionate about Spark, I do believe.

    Please keep sharing your experiences here. This thread has been helpful.

    • Skye Lotus

      I’m with you Toni. It would be tragic if IS were to fail. I’ve put off saying anything here about the customer support for a while because my initial experience was so positive.

      Here’s hoping that things improve moving forward.

  4. Judith Wolf Mandell

    Oh, my. The comments I’ve just read about Ingram Spark poor service are killing off my hope of using them to publish my profusely illustrated children’s book. I was going to go with CreateSpace, but, having just seen a sample of their work, I want a better quality product (the cover is lovely, but the interior pages seem dull and flimsy). I have an excellent artist and book designer who’s capable of designing to any specifications…but now I don’t know where to turn.
    To summarize: I’m looking for a POD company (or companies) that can generate a high-quality color paperback…and an ebook version(s) capable of being read on Kindle devices, Apple, and the host of others worldwide. Ideas?

    • Skye Lotus

      Judith, the quality of their printed books seems to me from everything I’ve read, and from my own experience, very high.

      My personal experience of the customer support when I started with them almost a year ago was excellent. It’s not so great of late, and if you look at their Facebook page, others are also unhappy.

      Remember that with IS, you have to upload the documents, already formatted. For POD this can for some be quite tricky, though Joel’s templates certainly make it easier. For eBook, you again have to create the ePub yourself. Personally, I think you can do better than IngramSpark for eBook distribution. Having also used Smashwords, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them for eBooks. It’s a different experience getting your book into their system, and I don’t know how they work with illustrated books, but once your title is in, their system works very very well, has terrific reporting and gives a great deal of control to you.

      With IngramSpark, once your title is in their system and being distributed, it can take 6 weeks or more for it to hit all of the stores (POD or eBook), and even then you may need to get support making it all work (I did).

      Regardless of everything I’ve said about IngramSpark that may have been negative, their printed books are excellent (I only have a paperback novel), and economical (for me the printer is in the same city). I plan to enlist CreateSpace for POD, purely because it sounds to be a better way to sell POD on Amazon. No other reason.

    • Skye Lotus

      Just an update. Since I last wrote here, IS customer support has been in contact and are in the process of correcting some of the issues I have. Assuming that all goes well, I’ll not have anything to complain about.

      As I’ve stated already, they are (for me) the best option for POD, so finally getting some support has been a relief.

  5. L.J.

    Although I’ve found the staff at IngramSpark to be very polite I think something is quite wrong with the way the company is run. I submitted a new title, got it set up in a week, which is fine. I then ordered a single proof copy on rush order (1 to 2 day turn around). It’s now 9 days since I received confirmation from IngramSpark that the order was being processed, and it has sat in ‘printing’ status ever since. I emailed and spoke to two staff earlier this week – they both told me this book had been printed and was being shipped that day. Nope, it’s now two days later and the status is still ‘printing’. I asked one to tell me honestly how long my next order of 300 copies would take to be shipped and delivered if I paid for rush service. She said at least two weeks. This is slower than any of their stated options, and also means paying for ‘rush’ is just a gullible tax (which I paid). As I said, the staff are very polite, no problem there, but there’s something wrong with a company offering a service level they clearly don’t deliver on.

    • Skye Lotus

      I’ve had the same problem just this past two weeks. I tried calling, no joy because the line is busy. I emailed multiple times; no answer. I messaged them on Facebook and got an appology and a request for me to message them again on Facebook with my concerns. No answer after a week.

      My books finally shipped last night so that’s a relief, but I have a bunch of questions and concerns that I can’t get addressed because I can’t get their customer support to respond anymore.

      The support was terrific a year ago, but at the moment, it’s next to non-existent.

      Based on comments here and on other sites, I want to change my titles configuration so that it’s POD only, and also to exclude Amazon so that I can setup CreateSpace for Amazon based POD sales, but I can’t see how to achieve this.

      I actually wrote to Robin Cutler a few days ago (Facebook made her profile visible to me, unprompted when on the IngramSpark page) expressing my concerns. I can’t imagine getting my POD books printed anywhere else; they are excellent quality and economical; but their service is suffering.

      • L.J.

        Hi again. I know lots of people have vouched for the quality of their books, which is why I opted for them to begin with. The amount of time they’re taking to print and deliver just one book is absolutely ridiculous though. I have orders I need to fill in May, so sadly it looks like all my efforts with IngramSpark have been wasted. I’m going to have to start again with another company, I’d say. Such a waste of time and money!

      • L.J.

        Hi Skye. I meant to ask you, when did you submit your latest order? Are you printing in Aus? Just wondering if I can work out when they might ship the proof. I can’t believe after doing so much research I managed to pick a printing company that gives such poor service. If you are in Aus, who would be your back up printer for a one time print run of 300?

        • Skye Lotus

          I submitted on the 23rd, and yes, I print in Aus. The shipping announcement email arrived last night, so I expect the books will arrive early next week.

          I’ve in the past used Blurb for small runs, but their quality wasn’t as high, and the setup of the book was by no means as easy.

          I’ve never done a run as large as 300 (I sell more at markets than anywhere else, including online). I don’t have a backup printer, but if this sort of thing persists, I’ll be looking for one.

          • L.J.

            Hi again. A quick update from me as well, to give IS their dues. The staff have continued to be very polite, and I think faster to communicate one they understood there was a genuine problem. From what I can gather there will continue to be issues with timing for a while in Aus as they clear what seems to be roughly a two week backlog, but as long as the quality is high I will keep working with them and let my own customers know their orders will be delayed.

            I’m also going to suggest to IS that they look at better ways to communicate with both prospective customers and customers with orders en train. Perhaps – as in my case – explaining delays would manage expectations and reduce frustration and worry!

  6. Judith Wolf Mandell

    I’m about to publish my first book, an illustrated children’s book. I’m almost certain I’ll go with IngramSpark, since I want a hard-cover version as well as paperback. That’s background. Now my question: In “The Fine Print,” an excellent book about the self-publishing business, the author (Mark Levine) emphasizes the importance of the POD company returning PRINT-READY production files, if the agreement terminates. Really, how important is this? Thanks in advance for your opinion and, possibly, experience.

    • Toni Ressaire

      Judith, I haven’t read ‘The Fine Print.’ What is the author’s reasoning? I’m sure it’s something to do with security and copyright. I’ve not heard of anyone asking for files back. I think with a company like Ingram, you don’t have to worry about compromise; but with a less reputable or credible company I can see why you may want to ask for the print-ready files. But here’s the thing: these files are electronic. Sending them back to you does not assure that they’ve deleted them.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Judith, unless Ingram Spark has started offering file creation services (like CreateSpace does) I don’t think this applied. Mark Levine was referring to subsidy publishers, who create the book files for you but who then will not usually return the files to you even though you paid for them (this is a common practice).

      Typically when you publish using Ingram’s POD services, it’s your responsibility to provide the print files, so there’s nothing for them to return. Of course this means that, as the publisher, you’ll need to take responsibility—or hire someone—to create the print files for your book. Any book designer will be able to do this for you, but make sure you get the original files from the designer at the end of the project.

  7. Simes

    The problem I have with Spark is that for ebooks they don’t provide a better royalty structure for publishers (who have a certain, even if limited number of books) – than for authors going direct with them. Given Sparks already fairly low royalty rates, compared to other aggregator channels, I can’t see how it’s possible for a small publisher to utilise Spark, in terms of ensuring their authors receive reasonable royalties – given an author could go direct. Because of this, even though I’d like to use Spark, we use other aggregator channels – as what Spark offers just isn’t a viable offering. Lightning do offer another comprehensive ebook platform (that includes ibooks, kindle, etc) but this option, literally, costs a couple of thousand just to setup up with them.

    I’ve tried speaking with Lightning about this, but they just didn’t seem to be able to understand the issue. So, like I said, though we’d have preferred to go with a viable Spark package – we went elsewhere – though would still be interested in going with Spark if something new is offered.

    Am interested if anyone else has broached this issue and got anywhere with it.

  8. Toni Ressaire

    I’ve been considering going with IngramSpark for over a year now, but every time I almost sign up, I stop. I really want to like what they are offering, but there are still some sticking points, many of which are listed here in the comments.
    I really think IngramSpark could blow Amazon out of the water with a few adjustments to the program. They’ve made great changes since launching, but a few more are in order.
    –The contract is too restrictive. It scares me every time I’m close to deciding to go with them.
    –I need to be able to choose distribution. For example, I distribute directly to iBooks. The Spark contract includes iBooks. On Amazon you have some options for choosing, for example, to go expanded distribution or not. Smashwords gives you a list of places and you can check or not.
    –The commission for ebooks is too low. I’m an indie publisher, I have to pay royalties. I get much better deals elsewhere.
    –Detailed reports are a must, both for me and my authors.
    These are the biggies I can think of at the moment.

    • Skye Lotus


      Some recent experience with IngramSpark is that if you are not in the US, and don’t expect (even though you may hope) to sell a lot of books, there is an added complication in that IngramSpark don’t apparently pay you until you have accrued US$25 in royalties.

      Now from experience in another field, payments to our bank accounts via an international transfer attract a $25 fee each time, so if you’ve managed to get $27 in sales for the month, then you may only see $2 of that depending on where in the world you live and what the fees are.

      Certainly, here in Australia, every payment I get from overseas as a software developer is $25 less than it should be.

      On your issues:

      Yes it would be terrific to have the same control over distribution as you do on Smashwords.
      The commission doesn’t bother me too much; our sales are way too low to notice.
      The reports are absolutely the worst. They’ve just updated the formats, but the web mechanism for getting them is archaic and very poor by todays standards.

      We’ve paid IngramSpark to promote our book via one of their lists and we’re hoping that will help sales going into the holiday season. Fingers crossed.

      • John Donnelly

        Thanks for your comments. As a fellow Australian, I have been a little concerned about US publishing, partly because of a complex tax regime. I tried Create space some years ago with poor results. Ingram looks a good option, even if I could get a little more elsewhere. It seems well organised.
        That $25 transaction fee is an unpleasant surprise. Does Paypal avoid that cost? I’ll soon find out.

        • Skye Lotus

          As it turns out, the $25 fee doesn’t occur with the IS payments which is a relief.

          I continue to have problems with their reporting, and plan to move my eBooks elsewhere. I have no confidence in what I see in my dashboard anymore as it hasn’t changed in 3 months, and the reporting mechanism is too broken for me to get anything out of it.

          Their customer support doesn’t support anymore from what I can tell.

  9. Michelle Kamhi

    Is the 55% discount absolutely essential for bookstores, or do they sometimes accept the 40% discount?

    • James E. Kyles

      It’s not a matter of the book stores getting 55% because IS take 15% of that amount. The real issue here is greed. Ingram Spark is greedy and NOT very author friendly. They force a high trade discount and then charge excessive printing fees, so there’s NOT much left for the author who did all the work writing the book and does all the work marketing the book… A 20% trade discount would be much more author friendly.

  10. chris behrens

    Hey, all-

    I just received my proof copy from Ingram, and I loved it. Very high quality! I had some conversations with Joel about this on other threads. No quick fix. I think the bright side is in having choices and doing so at reduced costs. Just a few yrs. ago, self-pubbing was very expensive. I was able to check the quality of a Createspace proof vs. an Ingram proof at very little cost. Ingram offers good pops. for very little cost, I think.

    Alos, I used Jera Publishing to format my files, as I have interior illustrations. Jera did a fine job at a reasonable cost. Jera offers lots of services at good prices.

    Enjoy the journey…it’s a great time for self-publishers although I’d love to have the backing of a trad. company. Good Luck, everyone!

    C. Behrens, Author of Savanna’s Treasure
    “…good fit for early readers…inspiring…” —Kirkus Reviews

  11. Martin

    I’m a little late to this thread but have been doing lots of research and found that both Spark and CreateSpace have serious drawbacks for authors.

    1) CreateSpace (Amazon) takes a HUGE cut of your royalty for print books sold outside of Amazon. The “commission” for a print book sold through Amazon is 40% of list price. The “commission” on a print book sold through other retailers (anybody non-Amazon) is 60% of list price. If you sell a 14.99 print book through Amazon your royalty is about $3.00… if you sell a print book to an independent book store your royalty is about $0.78…. yes that’s a cut from three bucks to 78 cents!! The business model of CreateSpace is geared toward pushing ALL print book sales through Amazon.

    2) Spark makes a similar ploy with indie e-books. The contract with IngramSpark specifies that you appoint them SOLE GLOBAL DISTRIBUTOR of your ebook… then Spark takes a 60% cut of EVERYTHING e-based… your flat author royalty is 40% for all e-book sales. That’s almost criminal. Amazon pays 70% royalty minus download fee (which for a standard fiction novel is about $0.15… your standard mass market or trade paperback is about 1MB). Smashwords pays 85% for ebooks sold through their platform. Yes… Smashwords, Vook, and other platforms take a cut of your ebook sales (usually 10% to 15%) when you sell through another platform: on top of the retailer cut. But your author royalty varies depending on the outlet… ranging from about 35% to 85%. For Spark to give you a flat 40% of your own work stinks. It prevents you from earning more where the book e-tailer takes a lower cut… on IngramSpark’s platform, if the e-tailer takes a lower cut, then that extra money goes to Ingram’s bottom line. Not yours. It’s basically free money for Ingram.

    Both CreateSpace and IngramSpark have very clear and distinct business priorities — clearly visible in their pricing strategies. They do not care prioritize authors. They prioritize their bottom line and supporting their business model. It’s an uphill battle with these services to get fair pay for your work.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Martin, this is why indie authors search for the best distribution deals. For instance, using CreateSpace to service Amazon orders makes a lot of sense, and using Ingram to service the rest of the book industry will also work well. As far as ebooks are concerned, there are a number of distributors like BookBaby and Smashwords who are author-centric and retain a very small (or no) percentage of your sales. But if you’re looking for 1 solution for every market, I’m afraid you won’t get a very good deal at some point.

      • Martin

        Joel. Thanks for responding (and Skye as well)… I have definitely learned that there is no one-stop shop for indie publishers. Something you pointed out.

        Where I am extremely frustrated (and maybe I am wrong on this), is that these big distributors want to bundle your distribution. For example, the IngramSPark contract you sign to set up an account appoints them EXCLUSIVE global distributor of your e-book. As far as I am aware (the way the contract reads) you cannot un-bundle POD print books from e-book distribution on Ingram Spark. You have to sign up for both or nothing. [???]

        As for CreateSpace… same question: I know you can upload direct to Kindle for e-book sales on Amazon and then use Smashwords, or Vook, or somebody else for e-book distribution… BUT can you unbundle the CreateSpace print offering and use them only for Amazon POD… and then use a different POD distributor for everybody else? The way the contract reads it does not look that way.

        THe ideal mix is to unbundle POD print books from e-books. And I have found some very affordable e-book wholesalers (like that charge a flat fee and do not take any % of your sales… and Vook which takes only 10% as opposed to Smashwords 15%… but I have yet to find a high-quality POD printer that will do all of the following… 1) will do only print without demanding your e-book too; 2) does high-quality print in a range of trim sizes; 3) makes books that actually looks like books from a bookstore; 4) has a wide reach / broad distribution network that includes the major catalogues, etc.; and 5) is non-preferential as to the end-retailer.

        The e-book distribution is not the issue for me right now. It’s the POD print vendors. Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions would be very much appreciated

        • Skye Lotus

          I can’t speak for CreateSpace because I haven’t used it, but WRT IngramSpark, as far as I know there is no exclusivity clause on the eBook. It is mine, and I can distribute anywhere that isn’t already one of IngramSparks distribution partners.

          For example, I have had other books with Amazon so I couldn’t distribute the eBook to Amazon via IngramSpark. That doesn’t mean I can’t upload my ebook to Amazon myself. There’s nothing to stop me doing that.

          And when it comes to distributing with others, it doesn’t make sense to double up, so if IngramSpark are listing your book with thebookdepository (for example), there’s no point in trying to do this myself.

          I’d like to distribute via Smashwords as well, but unless I can be sure there won’t be a conflict I’ll hold off.

          • Martin

            Skye, thanks for the reply… according to Section 2(b) of the contract… appoints IngramSpark as “exclusive” provider to resellers…

            (b) Distribution. From time to time during the term of this Agreement, LS, as Publisher’s exclusive provider to Resellers, will make Digital Media Files available to Resellers for the purposes of selling, marketing, displaying and distributing Digital Media Files to End Users. LS shall provide the following services to Publisher

            You said (1): “It is mine, and I can distribute anywhere that isn’t already one of IngramSparks distribution partners.” This means you can’t distribute directly to IngramSpark partners?? That’s what I was talking about re: exclusivity… you can’t go around them to reach their partners.

            Also… you said: “when it comes to distributing with others, it doesn’t make sense to double up, so if IngramSpark are listing your book with thebookdepository (for example), there’s no point in trying to do this myself.”

            This is exactly my problem.. My view = I don’t want IngramSpark distributing my e-book at all… Period. Because they take a 60% cut of all e-books revenue right off the top… and I don’t want to pay it.

            I want to use Ingramspark for POD print only, but I don’t know how to unbundle the e-book distribution from the print distribution in the contract.

            Thanks for your help.

          • Martin

            Here is the specific paragraph from the contract that give IngramSpark exclusive rights to your e-book for their network of re-sellers…

            (c) Exclusive Distribution. During the term of this Agreement, Publisher shall not directly distribute Digital Media Files to any Reseller for which LS is providing Publisher’s Digital Media Files pursuant to this Agreement. In the event that a Publisher has entered into a distribution agreement directly with Reseller for the distribution of its Digital Media Files and such agreement with the Reseller terminates during the term of this Agreement, LS shall make Publisher’s Digital Media Files available to Reseller hereunder.

        • Skye Lotus


          When we set up Aim for distribution via IngramSpark we had the choice to do POD only, or POD+eBook. We weren’t force to bundle both. Each year, from memory, we have to pay a fee to keep each running, and at the moment, we’re considering the possibility of only keeping the POD going after the first year and trying out Smashwords+Amazon with the eBook. There’s nothing there (at least when we setup Aim), to force us to use both. I’m pretty sure that even now I can go into the setup of the title, and discontinue eBook distribution though there will be some period of weeks or months during which the various websites hosting the book will gradually remove it from their listings. I’m not sure how that will work yet.

    • Skye Lotus

      Having previously used Smashwords for my first eBooks I think they have a great system. When I published my latest book via IngramSpark I chose to use them for both POD and eBook sales. In hindsight, I think I will. in the future use Smashwords for the eBook sales in preference; their reach is quite good, though not as wide as Ingrams (who seem to use CoreSource for the actual distribution). I prefer the control you have with Smashwords, and the reporting. The IngramSpark reporting system is sadly lacking, giving no real indication of sales dates or on which channels the sales were made.

      The rates charged by the various entities do seem high but that is the industry, and as has ben stated many times, editing, designing and producing a book is expensive work so that’s why those charges are there historically.

      I agree with Joel that there is no single distributor that will do what you want, for how much you want to pay. Like the consumers that don’t want to pay enough for our books, we don’t want to pay enough for the services that act as our shop windows.

    • Jose

      I have spoken to Ingram Spark recently especially with regard to this ebook exclusive distributor issue. Here is what I was told:
      1. Yes, when you sign up with Spark, you are required to agree not only to the terms for print books but also for ebooks, and yes they have exclusive rights to distribute to their partners
      2. However, you do not HAVE to set up your ebook title with them. Do the print book, and leave it at that. Do your own ebook distribution via other means. In my case, I do it direct with NookPRess, Ibooks, and Kindle and use someone else (e.g. Bookbaby or Smashwords) for everyone else.
      3. Even if you do set up an ebook title with Spark, you can opt out of it for Kindle and iBooks (and only those). Of course, for those that Spark does distribute to, you will only get 40% royalty, which sucks big time. I don’t know why anyone would want to do this. Spark says they take so much because they farm the distribution out and everybody takes a cut. Hmmm….Spark sounds like they jumped into this business without all their ducks in a row.

      I asked about other known issues. Their best trade discount for the author is still 40%. No, you cannot order a physical proof. You can get eproofs, and then if you want a printed copy you have to approve the book and order a print copy shipped to you. You can approve it “with distribution” or “without distribution”. Again, a bit half-baked to me, but I guess it would work. They charge $25 per file to make changes once you have approved the book. No charge for uploads prior to approving it.

      • Toni Ressaire

        This is exactly what I was talking about, Jose. I really like some things about Spark, but there are a few things that are still just sticking points. And they are big sticking points.

        I’m not happy with the “other” big option either, but at least with them I get higher royalties, and they are more of a sure thing. I also feel like I have more control, although I’m feeling less and less of that these days. I am no longer giving exclusivity at launch. It used to be worth it. Now it’s not.

        One thing I really like about the folks at Spark is that they’ve really put themselves out there in the public, not just as a company. They’re employees, such as Robin, interact and respond. I think they are really trying to work with the indie market. But they’ve also got to make it profitable for the company. I totally understand that. I just think if they would really make it easy and profitable for us–and treat us as partners–they would get our business and that would only mean more business for them. As I said in my previous comment, I think they have the possibility to blow Amazon out of the water.

        • Andras Nagy

          As an Amazon Business Partner and LSI(8 years now) client I find that statement utterly absurd!

  12. Sheila Brodhead

    I’ve published recently on createspace, and was told by the first bookstore I approached that they “wouldn’t touch anything published on amazon,” presumably due to all the bad things happening there recently and the fact that amazon is killing independent bookstores. My question to anyone willing to give me an opinion is this: should I also publish on ingrahamspark? would bookstores be more likely to stock my book if I did? what benefits might I gain from doing so? any thoughts? much appreciated!

    • Toni Ressaire

      Sheila, I’m rather late to the game, but saw your comment and wanted to respond.

      If you are wanting to get into bookstores, then you should consider publishing, at least in print, with Spark. I haven’t used them yet, but I’ve talked with them enough and read enough to believe that if you want to have a chance at getting into bookstores, that is the best way for an indie published author to go. It is the primary reason I keep looking at them so closely for the authors I represent. I have not yet, for the reasons listed in my other comment. But for you, it may be time to make that move.

  13. Skye Lotus

    Some feedback on IngramSpark:

    Having the book ‘out there’ for 2 months now one thing I’m noting is that IngramSpark really mean it when they say some distributors take 6 weeks to add your book to their site.

    I had to manually contact a number of sites and provide the cover artwork.

    When the book hit the Apple iBook store, it only showed up in the US and Canada. I had to write several emails, and make a phone call to IngramSpark in the US before they would believe me. Only then did they contact Apple and have the matter resolved, and even now there are still some countries in which Apple doesn’t list the book.

    Sales reports in the IngramSpark dashboard are atrocious. You are presented with a page of checkboxes which implies that if I select everything I’ll get a report listing everything that matches. Not true! You ONLY get a report if you get the combination of currency and Lightning source factories correct. There doesn’t seem to be a way to request a single report listing all POD, or eBook sales for a period, worldwide.

    The support people are pretty responsive, though I tend to find that if you wander outside the ‘typical’ set of questions, you’ll get a very scant reply. Most of the replies I get come across as template replies. In saying this, I would note that after speaking to them about my issue with Apple, the responses have been much better and much more informative.

    Don’t be afraid to talk to them. Don’t expect that, even though the system says it will do all the distribution to partners for you, that you won’t have to chase things up and check things. Don’t forget it’s up to you to market the book; that isn’t their job.

  14. Bill Palmer


    I published a color book with Lightning Source.
    Resigned that that no bookstore would buy a self-published book, and that if they did Amazon would attempt to undercut them. I set the LS commision rate at 20%. Amazon picks up the book anyway if people order it. Initially it was print on demand (“available withing x days), but they I started to see (“only 18 left…”), so I could see that they started order more than one at a time.
    Amazon seems to price it somewhere below the retail but at a cut above their cost price. The lower the cost price you set, the less they’ll charge, and the less you’ll make.
    For the few bookstores that I work with personally, I work with them directly and either have the shipment sent directly to them or ship from my own inventory.

    • Frederic

      Thank you Bill, that’s helpful. Good to see that Amazon stocked in when there was demand, despite the 20% discount.

      When you say “resigned that no bookstore would buy a self-published book”, you mean resigned that they wouldn’t stock it, right? They do buy it when a customer orders it, I imagine? (I wonder if that is a usual practice in the US, where Amazon is so dominant. In Europe, readers are used to go to their bookstore, and order a book from the bookstore if the book isn’t in stock)

      • Bill Palmer

        Yes, I mean that they would not stock it. I can’t tell where the print orders that come through Lightning Source are coming from. I assume they are almost all from Amazon, which outsells every other outlet by 10:1.
        My feeling is that if a local bookstore doesn’t have something, most US residents will order it from Amazon and have it before the bookstore would – often with free shipping.
        I’ve set my discount rate to take advantage of the fact that Amazon doesn’t require a 55% discount off retail like the brick and mortar places. I have a full color book with a narrow market (Aviation) that’s relatively expensive to print. I’m not happy making $1 each. So, I see no point in setting a discount rate so that they can buy it, when they won’t anyway.
        For the few specialty retailers that do carry it, I work with them directly and don’t go by the Ingram discount rate. But Amazon sells more in a day, then they do in a year, so that’s where my focus is.

    • James E. Kyles

      Just wondering how you were able to set up a title with LS, as they only deal with publishers that have more than 30 titles… I tried setting up my title with LS and was referred to Ingram Sparks because I do NOT have more than 30 titles. Are you a publishing company or an Indie? Just wondering because I’ve also tried offering a 20% trade discount with IngramSparks and have been unable to do so. However, I was able to offer a 20% trade discount through my former publisher… and I find it very interesting that I cannot offer a 20% trade discount as an Indie publisher. Please explain how you were able to publish one title via LS and offer a 20% trade discount as an Indie publisher. Thanks.

  15. Frederic

    I have self-published a quite successful book both on CreateSpace (for Amazon distribution) and IngramSpark (for orders in book stores and international distribution, and for a hardcover version, simply because I wanted to have a hardcover version :-)). I’m very happy with this dual strategy, it has worked great for me so far.

    I’m now thinking about creating an illustrated version of the book, and the project would really come to life it the book was in color rather than just black & white. CS is prohibitive for color, IS is alright if you go with 40% discount.

    I have two questions: does anyone know
    – how this book (IS with 40% discount) would appear on Amazon? Assuming it sells well, would Amazon take it ‘in stock’ or punish me for using IS and claim 1-3 weeks order time? (I’ve read in the past that Amazon was doing this).
    – if a reader goes to a bookstore and asks to order the book, would the bookstore still order it, with “only” 40% discount?

    Thanks if you can help out! I need to decide now with the illustrator if we go for color and b&w, so I’m really curious about your answers!

  16. Cindy

    Thanks for posting this info. I just submitted the initial required info with LS, and received an auto-response that referred me to Ingram Spark. Is there no longer a choice if I’m a new publisher with my first title?


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