After the manuscript is edited, the pages are designed, and the cover looks beautiful, the indie author is faced with a perplexing question: what is the difference between IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)? What will they do for me? All I want to do is sell the book on Amazon; is this how I do it? OK, and maybe Barnes & Noble, and…WalMart. And I want to buy copies of my book to sell at conferences; how do I do THAT? Oh, and can I get that in hardcover? And what about my eBook?
Indeed, the act of moving a book from file to a product that is sold as widely as possible is the act of self-publishing. You, as author and indie publisher, can maintain control of your book’s sales and distribution by setting up and managing accounts with one or both of the print-on-demand platforms: IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing. These two companies are the gateways to selling your print book on popular online retailer websites. They also provide a way for bookstores and libraries to order your print book, and for you to upload your eBook as well.
“But (XYZ company) said I can self-publish through them!” you might say. True; they will deal with IngramSpark and/or KDP themselves, saving you the trouble. Alternatively (or, additionally), they may sell your book on their website. All this service comes at a cost though: reduced compensation (royalties) for the author, possible hidden costs, and lack of control over the future of your book. IngramSpark and KDP are the ONLY print-on-demand companies. (Print-on-demand means that the book is printed as customers order them.) Any company that promises print-on-demand is acting as a middle person between the author and either or both of these companies.
But I digress. What is the difference between IngramSpark and KDP? They both publish your book to retail websites and make them available to bookstores. The difference lies in book (trim) size, paper choices, availability of hardcovers, eBook distribution, availability to bookstores and libraries, and publisher compensation.
I’ll talk about each company in turn.
Trim size, covers, binding and paper choices: IngramSpark publishes hardcover (optional dust cover), paperback and eBooks. The finish on the book cover can be matte, gloss or cloth (with foil stamping available). They offer three binding options and a full array of trim sizes to fit your needs. For more information on available options, click here.
eBook distribution: Through IngramSpark, you can distribute your eBook to many eBook retailers, including Kobo, WalMart, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. This happens automatically when you upload your eBook to IngramSpark; you don’t need to upload to each individual website. Note, however, that if you choose IngramSpark to make your eBook available on Amazon, you cannot also upload it to KDP, and you cannot enroll in Kindle Select. Fortunately, you can choose KDP for Kindle and IngramSpark for everything else. For a full list of eBook retailers supported by IngramSpark, visit this page.
Print book distribution: Don’t be fooled! While both companies distribute to thousands of libraries, along with online and brick-and-mortar retailers, distribution does not happen automatically. Retailers and libraries need to know they can order your book (or indeed, that your book even exists in the first place!). Once they know about your book and have been convinced to order it, they can do so through the IngramSpark catalogue.
I said there were few exceptions. You can choose to have IngramSpark distribute your print book to Amazon, and indeed, your hardcover book on Amazon will need to come from IngramSpark. Note that it takes a bit longer for books to become active on Amazon via IngramSpark than if they were published through KDP.
In addition, your paperback will automatically be made available on the Barnes & Noble website, along with your eBook. However, your print book will not be available in their brick-and-mortar stores, or Costco, or WalMart, or even your local independent bookstore, unless you make that happen. Through IngramSpark’s “expanded distribution,” your paperback and/or hardcover book will be made available to bookstores around the world. Visit this page on the IngramSpark website for more information.
Publisher compensation (royalties): Here’s the rub: since KDP is owned by Amazon, it only makes sense that the author’s “publisher compensation” (with the author as the publisher who is being compensated) is higher on KDP for books sold on Amazon. They’ve cut out the middle person. However, the publisher’s compensation is higher on IngramSpark than KDP for print books sold anywhere else.
The wholesale discount given to retailers impacts the publisher’s compensation. If you choose a 55% wholesale discount at IngramSpark, your book will available to every outlet, including online stores, other distributors, libraries, and physical bookstores. If you wish to sell your book online only, you can choose a 40% wholesale discount at IngramSpark. For more on wholesale discounts at IngramSpark, read this article.
To find out your exact publisher compensation based on various retail book prices, visit IngramSpark’s publisher compensation calculator.
Title set-up fees: As of March 2019, title set-up fees are $25 for eBooks, $49 for print books, and $49 for both print and eBooks together. Note that 1106 Design offers free title set-up for IngramSpark, meaning that this fee is waived for our customers.
Kindle Direct Publishing
Trim size, covers, binding and paper choices: Hardcover books are not available on KDP. If you want to sell a hardcover edition of your book on Amazon, you need to do that via IngramSpark.
eBook distribution: Makes sense; KDP distributes eBooks to Kindle only, albeit on Amazon websites worldwide. You cannot distribute your eBook to Kobo, Apple, Walmart or Barnes & Noble through KDP. You can distribute to those online retailers through IngramSpark. To publish your eBook to Amazon through IngramSpark, it must not be (or must never have been) published on KDP.
Print book distribution: Via KDP regular distribution, your book will be available on all Amazon sites worldwide. Through KDP Expanded Distribution, your book would be available to other online retailers, as well as bookstores, libraries and academic institutions.
The wholesale discount for expanded distribution via KDP is 60%. KDP charges the author more for expanded distribution than IngramSpark because KDP runs its expanded distribution through IngramSpark and charges an additional amount.
As KDP points out on their page dedicated to expanded distribution, being listed with a distributor does not guarantee that anyone will buy your book.
There are specific requirements for trim size, paper choice and ink color for expanded distribution. See this page on the KDP website for more details.
In addition, your ISBN must never have been distributed through another company (i.e., IngramSpark); additionally, if you have in the past used a “free” ISBN through a self-publishing company, you may not distribute that book using that ISBN through either KDP or IngramSpark.
Publisher compensation: As stated above, the publisher’s compensation for books sold on Amazon via KDP is higher than if those books were distributed through IngramSpark. However, because the wholesale discount at KDP is 60% for expanded distribution, KDP’s publisher compensation for expanded distribution is lower than IngramSpark. Click here to learn more about publisher compensation on KDP.
Title set-up: It is free to open an account on KDP and to upload your prepared print and eBook files. As an aside, you’ll notice on their website, KDP says it’s “free to self-publish”; that’s because there is no title set-up fee.
So, what’s the difference between KDP and IngramSpark? Which should you choose?
How about both!
We recommend that our authors self-publish their paperback book through KDP for standard distribution only. Your paperback will be available on Amazon and you will receive the highest possible publisher compensation for Amazon sales. Upload your eBook to Kindle on KDP as well.
Then, we recommend self-publishing through IngramSpark for expanded distribution of paperbacks and eBooks.
Note that if you use KDP for expanded distribution, IngramSpark cannot accept your book—at all (it’s complicated). So, it’s either KDP for standard distribution to Amazon and IngramSpark for everywhere else plus expanded distribution—or it’s KDP all the way!
If you choose to enroll your eBook in the Kindle Select program on KDP, you cannot upload it to IngramSpark for sales on other eBook platforms such as Walmart, Apple, etc. Some authors choose the benefits of Kindle Select over wider eBook distribution, while others choose to retain control over where their eBook can be sold (including on their own website).
As a provider of publisher services, 1106 Design prepares books for publication. We offer authors expert book design (covers and interiors), editing, typesetting, and book marketing services.
We will happily prepare your files to meet IngramSpark’s and KDP’s exacting specifications (provided we did the design work as well—let’s be fair!), and upload them for you (this is called “title set-up). We are pleased to be listed on the IngramSpark website as a Full-Service Self-Publishing Expert.
Our signature “hand-holding” means we’ll guide you through the maze of information and help you make decisions that are in your best interests.
And, with 1106 Design, you’ll receive the highest possible publisher’s compensation, because we don’t insert ourselves into your revenue stream as a middle person. We help you set up your accounts with KDP and IngramSpark under your own name with ISBNs owned by you, ensuring that every penny of publisher compensation goes directly to you from the POD companies.
If you need to prepare your book for publishing, look no further than 1106 Design. We are a publishing services company, offering professional cover design, interior page design and typesetting, editing, proofreading, marketing assistance, author website design and more. Our specialty is hand-holding our authors through the self-publishing process; you don’t have to do this alone! Let’s get started. Message us today and tell us about your book.