Ingram Spark

Move over Random House. The publishing world is changing. No longer do large publishing houses have the same hold on the book industry. Now, small publishers and authors are producing books and selling them, sometimes in large quantities. In fact, small publishers now make up 20% of the publishing industry.


The publishing world is beginning to embrace this seismic shift. Ingram, the largest book wholesale company once only deigned to work with publishers with 10 or more titles. When print-on-demand appeared, they opened Lightning Source and allowed small publishers to use this service to gain distribution. Then, about 2 years ago, they allowed the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) to form an agreement with them in regards to IBPA member publishers. This agreement allows member publishers of IBPA to obtain distribution for a print book with Ingram (with a setup fee of $300) if they agree to participate in at least one of Ingram’s marketing programs.

Now, Ingram is going one step further to engage more small and self-publishers—all in an effort to stay in the game and to make more money. Next month, they are launching a new publishing platform called Ingram Spark.

Ingram Spark will be a “Publish on Demand” platform which will incorporate both print and ebook distribution. By combining print and digital platforms, the program is supposed to simply the entire distribution process while offering Ingram’s worldwide reach.

With Ingram Spark, it will be free to open an account. However, there will be setup fees. Spark will charge a $49 fee to publish both an ebook and a print book ($25 for just an ebook). In addition, there will be a $12 fee per year to be listed in Ingram’s catalog (as with Lightning Source). Publishers will be paid a royalty when books are sold—40% for ebooks and 45% for print books (not sure if that is after printing costs or not). Publishers will have the ability to set that retail price, but Ingram will set a fixed discount for retail sales (unlike Lightning Source where the publisher can choose the discount).

This leaves me with the question of what the advantage of Ingram Spark will be over Ingram’s existing Lightning Source program. The only thing I can think of is that it will make the process of setting up both print-on-demand and ebook distribution easier for a publisher since both will be under the same account. Currently, print and ebook distribution are two separate agreements and processes with Lightning Source. Other than that, I don’t see any other advantages. Maybe you do. If so, let me know.

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4 thoughts on “Ingram Spark

  1. Thanks Sarah for writing about IngramSpark – we appreciate it! We thought we would provide a bit more info straight from IngramSpark to your readers…

    IngramSpark is indeed intended to be an easy way for independent publishers to begin working with Lightning Source and Ingram for distribution for “P” and “E”. Our online publishing tool gives independent publishers a simple, cost-effective way to access Ingram’s global distribution network for print and e-book content.

    From feedback received from customers and the industry, one of the things we wanted to do was make it easy to get books into distribution, and part of the ease was establishing a single platform, with a common price structure, that reflected ease, convenience, and global reach. For many publishers, using IngramSpark to make their titles available for sale through the world’s largest book distributor, with the broadest reach in the marketplace, will provide great value and will be a good choice for many.

    We do want to point out that while Spark is an easy way to start doing business with Ingram, it does not replace the relationships that many publishers have established with Lightning Source and Ingram over the years. That’s right, no changes to terms, discounts or other criteria we have established for doing business together. In fact, we hope that new publishers will use IngramSpark as an entry point for their long term relationship with Ingram and Lightning Source, and as the relationship grows, establish a more in depth business relationship which has the potential for custom options in discounts.

    If you or your readers have any questions about where we are heading with this program, they should be in touch with their client services or sales representative directly. If they are not a current customer of Ingram/Lightning Source, questions can be answered at

    The new platform will launch July 1st for publishers. In the lead up to launch – stay up to date on IngramSpark through Facebook and on Twitter at @IngramSpark.

    Thanks again for writing about our program!


  2. Sarah, I don’t see the benefit of IS vs. LSI. LSI already gave you access to global retailers via Ingram. You are always shown as in stock in the Ingram catalogue.
    Since you have to supply your own PDF/JPG/ePub files, it’s not really any easier than LSI. For eBooks, BookBaby and others take your PDF files, convert, and distribute them. They don’t take any cut, but charge up front fees.
    If using IS at 55% discount gave you guaranteed Amazon in-stock status, it might make sense. But, their response to me on that issue was, in effect, “We’re working on it.” So, I have had to use CreateSpace to guarantee in stock status. That said, I would prefer to stick with LSI if they could solve the problem.
    I love working with LSI, but, at the Ingram level, I worry that this may be a major #fail.


  3. Newt,
    I was not suggesting that their was a benefit of IS over LSI. I was simply reporting on the new service. That said, I suppose that the benefit in Ingram Spark is the ease for new authors publishing independently. I don’t see people jumping from Lightning Source to Ingram Spark. Rather, I think it is Ingram’s attempt to reach a new batch of authors.


  4. Sarah,
    According to Mick Rooney at the blog article linked below, Ingram is actually aiming at publishers with 10+ titles. He emphasizes that it is not aimed at self-publishing authors. He writes about this stuff all the time and I think his belief comes from exchanges with Ingram folks.
    Of course, he may be completely wrong, but his opinion vs. yours illustrates the confusion out there about Ingram Spark.
    To your point about ‘ease of publishing,’ it may be a bit easier at set up time, but I can’t see a business person trading one-time ease of publishing for each book in place of future book profits.
    I think the big difference between LSI and IS would be LSI’s status as just a printer. They make money from printing books. Ingram, however, makes money by selling books. So, when IS imposes a 55% discount(the traditional publishing distribution model), they make a lot more money than with the 20% short discount that so many of us have been using for years with LSI.
    Thanks for letting me vent. I’m just mystified from a customer perspective.
    Here’s Mick Rooney’s article link:


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