Using IngramSpark for Amazon distribution
You might already be familiar with an argument that KDP Print (formerly CreateSpace) is best for Amazon distribution and how IngramSpark can help with the other retailers.
What is far less known is that you can use IngramSpark to sell your paperback or hardback on Amazon without ever using KDP Print. Or, smarter still, by understanding how wholesale discounts work you can use KDP Print and IngramSpark together in a way that will provide the best income from each book sale and good availability across Amazon sites.
August 31, 2023 change to IngramSpark minimum wholesale discount
Starting August 31, 2023, you are no longer able to set up new books on IngramSpark with 30% wholesale discount for the US. We covered this change in a separate article, which you should read before proceeding with this one.
This change, unfortunately, effectively cancels much of the benefit from using IngramSpark for Amazon.com distribution described in this article, especially considering IngramSpark print charges increased since the article was written (which are not reflected below).
If you are still interested in maximizing your profit from print sales on Amazon.com, use IngramSpark and KDP compensation/royalty calculators to see how they compare for your book when you use 40% discount for both.
With 285-page B&W paperback listed at $10.99 price on Amazon.com, you earn $2.33 on each Amazon.com sale if you use KDP to print that copy. But if Amazon can’t source copy from their own printing facilities (accessed by authors through their KDP Print service), they will order it from IngramSpark.
When you use 30% wholesale discount on IngramSpark, you earn $2.96 for each copy sold in ALL retail channels in the US, including Amazon. That’s $0.63 more per copy, or, put another way, 27% more than what KDP pays. Earning $63 more for every 100 copies sold doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up and besides, you actually don’t need to do anything to earn that difference, other than to simply disable "United States" distribution in your book's settings on KDP and distribute the print edition through IngramSpark, which you might want to do anyway, as it's the easiest way to set up a print edition pre-order on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and others. And if your book is longer, the difference is even more pronounced: for a paperback with 385 pages (100 pages longer), IngramSpark-printed copy sold at the same $10.99 price and 30% wholesale discount, gives you 50% higher compensation for Amazon.com sales than what you would receive from KDP (the higher the page count, the lower your compensation at the same list price, and the higher difference between the two printers).
Now, you might have noticed that earlier, we only mentioned Amazon.com. The reason is that lowest possible wholesale discount for the US (30%), and relatively low printing fees there, provide royalty benefits when using IngramSpark for Amazon.com, as compared to KDP (previously, this was also the case with CreateSpace). With Amazon European stores, the difference is not as favorable.
If we use £9.99 and €9.99 list prices for the UK and the rest of the European Union respectively and apply the lowest possible wholesale discount for these markets, which is 35%, this is how IngramSpark compensation for Amazon sales compare with KDP royalty:
- Amazon.co.uk: £2.45 on KDP; £2.69 on IngramSpark (£0.24 difference; about 10% more with Ingram)
- Other European Amazon stores (.de, .fr, .es, .it): €1.98 on KDP; €2.03 on IngramSpark (€0.05 difference; 2.5% more with Ingram)
As you can see, the difference when it comes to the UK and rest of Europe isn’t that significant. And, as of November 11th, 2019, distribution to Amazon in Europe through IngramSpark just isn’t a viable option due to an unfavourable availability status for IngramSpark books on Amazon.
If you want to learn more about famous myth that many authors believe: Amazon promotes its own solutions (KDP Print and formerly CreateSpace) by unfairly manipulating independently published books’ availability status on its own websites when the books are distributed through IngramSpark, read our article on the topic.
For the purpose of using IngramSpark for Amazon.com paperback (and hardback) sales, all you need to know is that currently (last checked: November 11th, 2019) availability status for IngramSpark books on Amazon.com is "Available to ship in 1-2 days". And if your book is selling well and Amazon anticipates high demand to continue, they will order more copies from Ingram prior to customers actually placing orders and the status will be "In Stock" as it is the case for this book published by our client (status checked for November 11th, 2019) or it will indicate a specific number of copies which are in Amazon's stock (as it was the case for the same book on Amazon.co.uk on the same date).
If you want to focus your marketing efforts solely on Amazon, you can still do so with IngramSpark printing copies for Amazon.com as described in this section. Be aware, however, that unlike with KDP Print without "Expanded Distribution" selected (which was called “Standard Distribution” on CreateSpace), your Ingram-distributed paperback will NOT be available exclusively on Amazon.
If you only care about Amazon.com sales and you think you could give up on KDP for your paperback, think twice. While we think that having Amazon.com copies printed by IngramSpark is a great idea, having KDP copy at hand to enable "United States" teritory whenever needed is an excellent backup strategy if Amazon makes any changes to their product pages for 3rd-party Print-on-Demand books. And besides, giving up on sales on Amazon in UK and other European countries isn't a good idea, unless your book is US-centric.
Ingram's channel selection works differently than how it used to work with CreateSpace. Ingram won't allow you to choose specific retailers you want to distribute to, one by one. Distribution through their network happens based on the market you enabled (similarly to how it works with KDP currently), not based on individual bookseller selection.
Available markets, where Ingram does printing and distribution using their own facilities are United States, Canada, United Kingdom, European Union and Australia. You can enable each market by simply entering a price and a chosen wholesale discount option for each market. Once that’s done, all retailers in that market will be able to see that your book is published, list it on their websites and buy it from Ingram when a customer orders it.
In marketplaces where Ingram has limited facilities or none, they partner with other printing companies to fulfill orders in these markets. They call this arrangement the “Global Connect Program” and it is presented on your account as another market. Once enabled, your book will also become available for printing by Ingram's partners in following countries: Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain.
With that said, nothing stops you from using IngramSpark and focusing your marketing efforts solely on Amazon. Simply having a book listed with different online retailers and marketplace sellers does not do any harm to your Amazon sales. Unlike with digital exclusivity (KDP Select), Amazon does not provide any additional* promotional tools for authors who opt for a limited print distribution, so by having the paperback on multiple retailers, you have nothing to lose and lots to gain, even if you don't promote these other retailers actively.
This article is work-in-progress. It is published in hopes of being useful, but it is not as comprehensive as our finalized articles, may be slightly outdated and contain small errors. Subscribe for updates.
Read our other article to understand what wholesale discounts are and how they can make IngramSpark a profitable distribution option not only for Amazon, but also for Barnes&Noble and other retailers.
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