IngramSpark: What You Need to Know and a Quality Filter?

IngramSpark: What You Need to Know and a Quality Filter?

Industry distribution juggernaut Ingram has a service called IngramSpark.

It’s essentially an effort to streamline the publishing setup process for small to medium sized independent publishers, with a new portal to the Lightning Source print on demand distribution channel and CoreSource, Ingram’s answer to e-book distribution.

According to Digital Book World, an Ingram spokesperson has said:

“IngramSpark is for small independent publishers. It is not for self-published authors.”

I spoke to an Ingram representative and they revealed:

“The distribution network is the same as LSI, it will be printed via LSI as it currently is. The system is really getting both POD and eBooks into the same system as well as making it easier to use.”

IngramSpark’s account setup features

Here’s current pricing model for publishers using IngramSpark. Those familiar with Lightning Source will see it’s very much the same.

  • It’s free to create an account and get started.
    • IngramSpark makes its money from title setup fees and a percentage of sales. That’s fair enough, the company has to operate somehow, so authors and publishers can take advantage of the best, low cost method of printing and global distribution. An example of the amazing times we live in.
  • Title set-up fees include:
    • Loading, storing, and managing book, e-book files, and metadata per title.
    • Book and e-book — $49.00 (submitted at the same time)
    • Book — $49.00
    • E-book — $25.00
    • Automatic free title set-up for every title with an initial order of 50+ copies.
  • Like LSI, there’s just an annual fee to keep your book registered in the distribution system.
    • Global Market Access (Book & E-book Distribution)
    • Book and E-book Market Access — $12.00 per title, per year (if submitted at the same time)
    • Book Market Access — $12.00 per title, per year
    • E-book Market Access — $12.00 per title, per year
  • Publisher compensation and royalties
    • Printed (POD) Title — 45% of List Price minus the print costs (not shipping)
    • E-book Title — 40% of List and Agency Price

Unlike Lightning Source where you can select a wholesale discount of between 20% – 55%, IngramSpark enforces a locked 55%. The reason for this, is to encourage as many retailers to order books as possible and I also believe it attracts the more serious independent publishers releasing multiple books.

What, no services?

No, just like Lightning Source IngramSpark doesn’t offer book production services such as copyediting or formatting. They’re focusing solely on the printing and distribution offering, which is their greatest strength. They leave it to professional service vendors (like Book Cover Cafe) to provide independent publishers with the files they need for LSI and IGS.

There are some newbie self publishers, who just don’t understand why everything isn’t free or why LSI or IGS doesn’t offer these services. It’s because newbie, small time sole authors are not the target customer base for LSI or IGS. That means IngramSpark isn’t for everyone.

Is IngramSpark using the wholesale discount as a quality filter?

A controversial topic surrounding this news of IngramSpark is the standard wholesale discount terms required to be accepted upon creating an account.

One of the main reasons some independent authors use Lightning Source distribution is because of the ability to short discount. This is when the wholesale discount of a book (creating a price retailers buy the book at) is made for as low as 20%, in order to maximise return.

This is really only a strategy used by authors looking to sell exclusively online disregarding offline retailers or libraries, who require at least a 40% standard discount before even considering ordering a book in. It’s simply not worth their while otherwise, as a business which has its own bills to pay. This is nothing new and has been the case for the publishing retail industry for decades.

I would say this method of short discounting by some self publishing authors was not the original intent LSI had for the option of selecting a discount, and it would seem IngramSpark could be a solution to this.

Enforcing a standard discount of 55% upon creating an IngramSpark account, will turn away those authors and publishers intending to short discount, smaller authors that don’t approach publishing like a real business. This would obviously please online and offline retailers abound and in the eyes of Ingram and retailers, could well be a subtle way of acting as a quality filter for books.

This wholesale discount requirement won’t affect those pro independent publishers with multiple titles who are familiar with wholesale discounting for offline retailers and channels for selling books, particularly those in the children’s and YA markets.

How will this affect current Lightning Source publishers?

Contrary to current rumours around the interwebs, Ingram has stated that existing Lightning Source accounts will not be rolled over or consolidated into IngramSpark. This was confirmed by an Ingram representative and via IngramSpark’s Twitter feed.


Having the choice is a good decision by Ingram. If you already have an LSI account, you’ll carry on using it as you always have. From my research Lightning Source account holders will not be affected by the new IngramSpark terms and the option to select a wholesale discount will remain.

IngramSpark provides no additional distribution options, from what LSI account holders already have and both IngramSpark and Lightning Source accounts will be treated completely separately, but use the LSI printing and distribution system. IngramSpark really is a user experience improvement from a ‘front-end’ perspective.

One thing’s for sure, there has never been a better time to be an independent publisher.

If you’re looking to make your print book available to both online and offline retailers, libraries and other independent channels, Lightning Source or IngramSpark is still an excellent option, particularly for non-US independent publishers.

EXTRA TIP: When it comes to e-books, I recommend staying clear of Ingram’s CoreSource offering and go upload direct to retailers.

Be the captain of your own ship.

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