In this episode I interview Andy Bromley a marketing manager at Ingram Spark. I’ve always been intrigued with Ingram Spark, who have a reputation as a higher quality but more bespoke Print-On-Demand service than CreateSpace, the service that Amazon provides.
I asked him several questions to try and drill down into the advantages and disadvantages of their service.
Many self-publishers are happy with using CreateSpace for Print on Demand books. Why should they consider using Ingram Spark as well as or instead of CreateSpace?
Andy was honest in his answer here – for those who just want a paperback on Amazon and have no interest in hardbacks, colour books or getting into book stores then CreateSpace is the way to go. Ingram Spark has a better distribution network than CreateSpace. I comment to him that the Alliance of Independent Authors recommend using both Createspace and Ingram Spark. He agrees that this can work, as long as you don’t choose expanded distribution in CreateSpace or use their ISBN.
Ingram Spark can print books in the US, Europe, Australia and in various partners in Brazil, Poland, Germany, South Korea and Russia meaning that shipping is a lot cheaper than CreateSpace books printed mainly in the US.
It says in the Ingram Spark help that an internal PDF created from Microsoft Word can’t be used – how would someone with a Word document create a PDF that can be used with Ingram Spark?
This is something they are looking at improving but at the moment you can’t just use a PDF generated from Word because they have a wider range of formats and they have a higher-quality production process than CreateSpace. He recommends using someone with Adobe InDesign experience or using someone like Joel Friedlander’s Book Design Templates to create the print-format interior PDF file required for Ingram Spark.
He also mentions that unlike Createspace, Ingram Spark can produce hardback books as well as paperbacks.
What exactly is the difference between Lightening Source and Ingram Spark?
Andy explains that Lightening Source was Ingram’s original POD service and was used by large publishers, however it was a service designed for them, with separate paper contracts for each market and a more “big company” focus than Ingram Spark.
I am not convinced about using Ingram Spark for eBooks – why should people consider Ingram Spark for this?
Andy makes the point that Ingram Spark can provide eBooks to a huge number of eBook retailers (like Sainsburys in the UK) which most other aggregators don’t provide. However you can only opt out of sending it to Amazon at the moment, which means you couldn’t go direct to Apple and use Ingram Spark for eBooks. You also need an eBook ISBN due to the nature of the platform.
What new things are Ingram Spark working on?
According to Andy they are looking at creating a widget for an author’s website were you can sell books directly. For those with UK customers, they are introducing a UK wholesaler programme where books can be ordered directly from Ingram by booksellers so that they don’t have to pay shipping unlike if they had gone through a third-party such as Gardeners.
They are also adding an Ingram Spark “best sellers” catalogue for UK book stores to see the best-selling Ingram Spark books.
What happens to sale-and-returned books on Ingram Spark?
While these can be returned to the publisher, this is generally too expensive, so they usually get destroyed instead. However Andy was keen to state that returned books are very rare on Ingram Spark as the book sellers with modern business practises rarely order too many copies. In the past they ordered large amounts to get discounts and then returned those that didn’t sell, but now this doesn’t happen.
You can find out more about Ingram Spark at ingramspark.com.
If you liked this interview you might like my interview with Debbie Young about selling books in book shops or my show about releasing a book on CreateSpace.
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