Updated September 26, 2023
In this post you'll learn how to calculate your profits or royalty rate from IngramSpark and Amazon.com.
It can be tough to choose how to distribute your print books and, to make it even more complicated, you can use combinations of services to maximize your marketing and profits. Lots of authors sell their print book directly to readers who shop in the Amazon store using Amazon KDP Print. They distribute everywhere else with IngramSpark because they think that they make more money on Amazon by doing that. But IngramSpark allows you to set a 30% discount whereas Amazon's discount is set at 40%. You earn 70% royalty with IngramSpark but only 60% royalty with Amazon. There are other reasons to go direct to Amazon (such as your book always being in stock), but royalty rate isn't it. Here's the math, and also a rundown on printing-only (author copies) for all the POD companies. (IngramSpark, Amazon, Draft2Digital, Lulu, StreetLib, plus 48HourBooks, a short run printing company.)
- How To Calculate Royalty
- IngramSpark Royalty Calculator
- Amazon's Royalty Calculator
- Final Compensation Comparison
- Why Use Amazon KDP Print?
- Why Use IngramSpark to get to Amazon
- Print-only costs for author copies at the various POD companies.
HOW TO CALCULATE ROYALTY
There is a formula for calculating royalty, and here it is:
List Price - Discount - Print Cost = Publisher Compensation / Royalty
Use IngramSpark's Publisher Compensation Calculator to determine the cost of your book. I compared a 6x9, 280-page paperback priced at $14.99 on both platforms.
It's important to note a difference in discounting. IngramSpark offers 30%-55% discounting, but Amazon offers only a 40% discount. Amazon is not a distributor—they offer an Expanded Distribution option, but don't use it—only use Amazon to get your book into the Amazon store.
Here's how you can do the math for your book.
INGRAMSPARK ROYALTY CALCULATOR
Here's what IngramSpark's publisher compensation calculator looks like and the results for a 6x9, 200-page paperback book.
Apply the 40% discount required to distribute to the online retailers. If you want to market to bookstores you'll need to set the discount to 53% and enable book returns, but remember that 99% of your print book sales will happen online.
IngramSpark's Publisher Compensation Calculator: Insert book details to figure how much you'll make from each book you sell that's distributed through Ingram. Here's the results for our sample black-and-white paperback book at 6x9 and 200 pages.
AMAZON'S ROYALTY CALCULATOR
Like IngramSpark, Amazon takes 40% of the list price. They may discount your book, selling it for below that price, but you will always be paid 60% of list price. Again, note that with IngramSpark you can discount your book as you like, from 30%-55%, and offer bookstores a RETURNS option, which you cannot do with Amazon. Use Amazon only to sell in the Amazon store. Do not use Amazon's Expanded Distribution service to distribute to other stores.
Here are the results for the same 6x9, 200-page paperback book:
Don't forget to file a resale certificate so when you purchase your own books you don't pay sales tax twice - once when you purchase your books and once when you resell them. Find out how to do this in my post on BookWorks. This is just one of the tasks you need to do when setting up an author-publisher business. Learn how to set up in my online course, Set Up Your Publishing Business.
Final Compensation Comparison
Here's the final price comparison.
- List price is $14.99, which is the same on both platforms, minus
- Discount, which is 40% for for both platforms
- Print cost, which is $4.08 for IngramSpark and $3.40 for Amazon
- Compensation, which is $4.76 for IngramSpark and $5.59 for Amazon
Pros and Cons
You make 83 cents more when you use Amazon KDP to sell your print book in the Amazon store. But if your book isn't just flying off the (virtual) shelves Amazon might mark your book as Temporarily Out of Stock or Ships in n Days status if you don't use Amazon KDP. So, understandably, you may want to use them so you don't lose customers (who want instant gratification) in the highest-volume bookstore on the planet.
Going direct with Amazon also gives you control. You can experiment with metadata, keywords, categories, and pricing, without going through IngramSpark, and you can take advantage of Amazon's marketing features with your Kindle ebooks.
Distributing using IngramSpark offers other perks, too:
The other services
Stay tuned while I finish researching this chart comparing the POD services. Note that 48HourBooks is a short-run printing company so doesn't directly compare but I wanted you throw it in there so you could see the difference. Shipping example prices are to San Francisco, California.
X (+ 25 books)
Note that the cost to purchase one book at BookBaby is $99. They are a full-service company and not set up to strictly print books. (I can't explain their astronomical shipping fee, which is over double the cost of most POD companies.) Likewise, 48HourBooks as a short run printer is set up for volume, so 10 is the minimum number of books you can order from them. The extra 25 books when you order 100 is a nice bonus. If you need books really fast, and need to talk to someone on the phone about it, a short-run printer is the only way to go. IngramSpark has rush shipping but if anything goes wrong with the files that will delay it you might not find out in time and they don't have a customer service line. Short-run printers will rush jobs but the fee is astronomical and also the rush shipping costs.
There are many other distribution options but for print I think the Amazon + IngramSpark combination is the best combination for most authors. What about you? I welcome your thoughts and questions on this topic.
Learn how in my Book Publishing Master Course.
Module 1 – Prepare for success: The critical stages of book publishing and the essential competitive analysis step.
Module 2 – Your book business: LLCs, ISBNs, PCNs, LCCNs, CIP Blocks, imprints, taxes, and legal matters.
Module 3 – Book cover and interior design and formatting (for print and both reflowable and fixed-layout ebooks).
Module 4 – Book distribution with IngramSpark, Amazon, and the other distribution companies and online stores.
Module 5 – Book launch and beyond – Pre-launch production tasks, launch day, and post-launch activities.
Module 6 – Products, tools, services, and your team: How to streamline your processes and hire talented professionals.
Check out my book publishing master course before you publish your book so you know you're doing it right. Publishing professionals can join the certification program so your clients know you are qualified to help them with their publishing tasks.
Get your free self-pub toolkit and don't miss another blog post
You'll get my Consumer's Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, a metadata cheatsheet, and a book launch checklist to make your own in your writing, marketing, and publishing journey.