Ingram Spark vs Kindle Direct Publishing

Hey guys! Thank you so much for your support with The God Queen – without you, my book would remain unknown and sit all sad and lonely on the digital bookshelves!

Today I am going to talk about the differences of Ingram Spark and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. In case you are wondering, I went through KDP for the kindle version of The God Queen and Ingram Spark for the print copy as well as the other ebook versions. And since I have worked with both, I wanted to talk about the differences I noticed while going through this process as well as give my final thought about which platform you should use for your book distribution.

1. Price

Let’s be quick and honest: KDP is free – Ingram is NOT. There are different tiers depending on what you want to get done.

2. ISBN

KDP gives you free ISBN – Ingram does NOT (you have to bring your own)

As a newbie, it’s easy to want to lean towards KDP on this alone. 1 ISBN costs about $125 (you need for each format: paper, ebook, audio, hard). Therefore you should buy the ISBNs in bulks and the cost of 10 ISBN: $295 through Bowker (~258€). If you read my post on How Much Does it Cost to Self Publish, you’ll find that I had to buy a German ISBN (since….ya know….I live in Germany) and the cost of 10 ISBN: 180€ through German-ISBN (~$205).

 While it does sound great to get a free ISBN – you have to realize that you are not the publisher, Amazon is. They therefore have the publishing rights and if that thought makes you uncomfortable and you know that you want full control? I suggest you bite the bullet and buy your own.

3. Bookstores

Ingram can get you into bookstores – KDP claims to but honestly can’t. Let#s be honest, Amazon is the direct competition to bookstores – why would they buy from Amazon?

In order to physically be in bookstores: have to be able to return books that don’t sell. Besides the fact that Amazon is the competitor, this online giant also doesn’t allow for books to be returned because they don’t want to foot the bill.

You see – when a bookstore decides to stock your book, they “buy” it from the distributor. They give the book a certain amount of time in order to see if people will buy it (because they only have so much space so they have to be choosy about what they stock). If the books aren’t sold, they return the book to the distributor for a refund. As I said, Amazon doesn’t allow this. On the other hand, Ingram does

 However! Ingram doesn’t foot the bill….you, the author, has to pay for the return. There are two options:

  1. The book is shipped to you (Price: wholesale prize of the book + $2 shipping fee)

      2. Or the book is destroyed (Price: wholesale price)

Also, FYI, this $2 shipping fee only works within the US. As I have mentioned before, I live in Germany so either the books can be sent to my parents….or they get destroyed and honestly, I cannot abide a book being destroyed. But that’s my personal opinion.

DO NOT DESPAIR! Your book can still be ordered on the bookstore website or you can order in store (Barnes and Noble loved my book and had it on their newsletter)!

4. Proofs

KDP gives you up to 5 proofs – Ingram gives you as many as you order (without band)

KDP doesn’t allow for presale with print (but they do for ebook). This is a big reason why I went with Ingram – I wanted a presale. The reason for this is due to the fact that KDP is free. I heard that they used to allow presale and people would upload their ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) which may or may not be polished and riddled with errors. KDP sends you a reminder in the days leading up to release asking you to make sure that the copy you have uploaded is the final one – remember they do presale for the kindle version.

I think a lot of people just ignored those messages and kept their crappy version of the book up and customers were not happy. Ingram allows you to make corrections, but you do have to pay every time: $25 for the ebook and $25 for the printed copy and if you have to correct both? That’s $50.

KDP allows you to order up to five proofs but will have a watermark. I do recommend using KDP to check for formatting since you don’t have to pay for the corrections. Then when you have a version you are happy with – take that format to Ingram. The format will transfer without a problem.

5. Quality

Honestly, I think Ingram’s quality is better. Amazon uses a blindingly white paper which does make it look rather cheap (but that’s my opinion) while Ingram’s uses cream which looks more like you would find from a traditionally published book. I ordered matt from both and I found them to be similar.

6. Hardback

   You can get a hardback version of your book through Ingram. KDP doesn’t have this option.

I do have plans on making a hardback of The God Queen. I want to do something special with it but it will be dependant on funds (ie the money I make off The God Queen). So if you want to help? Order the book!

7. Customer Service

 I did have a few problems that required contacting customer services at both Amazon and Ingram, and was pleased to discover that both had pretty good customer service

But I live in Europe so my expectations on customer service are set VERY VERY low

Amazon: Author site had taken too long to verify (should take max a week and mine took longer). I sent them a quick email and everything was quickly fixed. Also, I had to contact them to make sure that my printed version and kindle version were linked so people wouldn’t have to search two different entries to order one book. It’s common for indie authors to have to take this step and they worked with me every step of the way.

Ingram: I don’t have a publishing house. It was a decision I made before I announced presale but before then, I put down a name as a place holder. I will talk about why I made this decision later, but when it came time to change the publisher to my name….Ingram wouldn’t change it. Technically it should be as simple as changing the information as saving but so some reason it would change the name back to the old one. This was really frustrating and Ingram wouldn’t return my emails at first until I told them I wouldn’t accept the last upload of my manuscript as the publishing name was still wrong. Once I got the conversation started, they got to work on fixing the problem. Apparently it was an IT problem with the site and it took them almost two weeks to fix it. What I did appreciate was that I kept getting messages from them every few days informing me of where they were in the process and that I wasn’t forgotten. I really like that.

My final thoughts

I am very happy I went with Ingram. But if you are a newbie and really limited on funds, KDP is great if you are starting out. Honestly, I would rather you spend your money on a good cover, a good editor, as well as your own ISBNs – you can then always expand through Ingram later.

Personally, I want my writing to grow into a career, which meant having expanded distribution was the big point for me. I want The God Queen to each every possible reader and Ingram gives me that.

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4 thoughts on “Ingram Spark vs Kindle Direct Publishing

  1. I think we have pretty similar philosophies regarding indie publishing! I’m very happy that I went with Ingram for the print version, and I agree that their quality is better. Ponying up the money to publish a title through Ingram and get an ISBN was a tough decision at first, but I’m glad I took the plunge.

    Did you explore using aggregators for your ebook, like D2D or PublishDrive? Just curious.

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    1. Buying an ISBN seems like a hefty price tag, but it really is worth it! I didn’t look into D2D or Publish Drive. I did my own formatting, Ingram does a great job with distribution, I use Book Funnel for promotion and I have my own site, so I don’t really know what more can something D2D do for me. What are your thoughts?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I also did my own formatting and still went with D2D and Publish Drive, but I honestly didn’t have rock solid reasons for doing it that way. I was happy with Publish Drive at first because they are able to get you into a lot of hard markets and they had promotions you could take advantage of with different platforms, but now I believe the promotions functionality is only available if you are part of their $100/month plan, which isn’t worth it for me at the moment. As far as D2D, they don’t have promotions functionality, and I’m hoping that is in the cards for their future plans. I guess Publish Drive and D2D felt very forward-thinking to me as distributors, so I wanted to get experienced with using them. (Especially since my sales are quite low since I only have the one book on the market; it didn’t feel like I would be missing out on tons of cash one way or the other.)

        I honestly don’t know enough about how Ingram distributes their ebooks, so would love to know more about that.

        I also go direct with Kobo, and I know a lot of indie authors do that, since Kobo is so supportive of indies. You’re able to get into NetGalley cheaply through Kobo ($35/month) and they have awesome promotions for indies. I’d 100% recommend going direct with them. And I use KDP for Amazon, of course.

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      2. I need to check out Kobo (especially for the netgalley thing!) Ingram automatically uploads to Kobo so I didn’t think about it before. Ingram is really good with distribution, they even get some of the book sellers out here in Germany! It’s pretty cool and I have still very happy to have gone with them 😀

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