IngramSpark and KDP

by Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark

Now that I’ve retired from IngramSpark and formerly used to work for Amazon, I feel like I can now dispassionately compare IngramSpark with the services that Amazon KDP offers. But before I do that, I want to make it clear that Ingram and Amazon enjoy a very collaborative relationship where human beings on both sides work tirelessly to improve our collective publisher/author content providers’ experience. The people who work on both sides are not adversarial as is often assumed in online posts; nor is there evidence that Amazon is targeting and depressing the availability of IngramSpark books on the Amazon site.     

IngramSpark and KDP–Print

IngramSpark has continued to improve and expand its POD business by offering the widest choice of trim sizes, many in both hardcover and paperback bindings. Additionally, there are many color options that mirror traditional printing. KDP options are more limited as they’re missing hardcover, some trim sizes, no landscape option and offering only one version of color.

Print Books and Ebooks Together

In IngramSpark, not only can you set up your hardcover and paperback versions of your book but you can also set up your ebook at the same time and gain book distribution. These include Amazon, Apple, Nook and Kobo along with some 39,000 retailers who order from Ingram. With KDP for your print and ebooks, you will only get distribution to Amazon. So, if you’re looking for a one-stop solution for printing and distribution for both your print books and ebooks, IngramSpark may be the better choice for the broadest distribution that also includes Amazon.

Getting your books into bookstores

When bookstores and libraries buy your book, they purchase it at a discounted or wholesale price so they can resell and make a profit. Therefore, you need to offer a wholesale discount off the list price that you set. In IngramSpark, you can choose a discount between 30% and 55% on the print version which means you would earn 45-70% depending on the discount you choose. In KDP, you don’t get this flexibility since you would earn 60% on Amazon orders and only 40% on orders in its Expanded Distribution program (which includes Ingram). Meaning, that with IngramSpark, you have the flexibility to set terms that are more attractive to booksellers.

Using IngramSpark and KDP Together

I would also be remiss if I did not note that it is possible to use both IngramSpark and KDP at the same time if you own your ISBN.  Suppose you are making your title available in both systems. In that case, you can’t choose KDP’s Expanded Distribution because that makes the title available to Ingram and will cause a conflict with the ISBN when you upload it into IngramSpark. Once your title is available, IngramSpark will fulfill orders to partners such as Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, and libraries. And KDP will fulfill Amazon orders. Of course, if you’re looking for a one-stop for all your content, IngramSpark provides the broadest distribution, a wise choice if you only want to use one platform.

Amazon Availability

Not long ago, we reviewed Amazon availability messaging across all IngramSpark titles and found that 92% had good availability messaging on the Amazon site. The ones that didn’t were mostly newly setup titles or were in/out of revision cycles. Availability messaging tends to change over time as the book develops a sales history. One of the best things a new author can do as soon as their title goes live is to order their book through Amazon to help spur good availability messaging. The other thing is to make sure the title complete before uploading it into any system that feeds Amazon’s data to keep the title from rapidly moving in and out of revision cycles, which can negatively impact availability messaging. Ingram continues to work collaboratively and closely with Amazon to improve availability messaging on the site.

Some of the differences between IngramSpark and KDP come down to hardcovers, print options,  broad distribution, and convenience. IngramSpark also does not require exclusivity or pricing guidelines as some parts of KDP offer, so it’s something else to keep in mind as you evaluate these two programs.