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April 5

Comparing IngramSpark and Amazon KDP Print Royalty

29  comments

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.

Try it for your book!

IngramSpark Publisher Compensation Calculator
IngramSpark Publisher Compensation Calculator

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. 

How much will I make from my book at IngramSpark?

Use this calculator to figure out how much you'll make on your book when distributing your print book with IngramSpark.

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:

Do it for your own book!

Click to load the Amazon KDP Paperback Royalty Calculator.

Amazon KDP royalty calculator for print books

Publisher (Author) compensation (royalty). 

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.

  1. List price is $14.99, which is the same on both platforms, minus
  2. Discount, which is 40% for for both platforms
  3. Print cost, which is $4.08 for IngramSpark and $3.40 for Amazon
  4. 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 convenience of a one-stop shop
  • Print preorders on Amazon (who, strangely, does not offer preorders).
  • Option to adjust the discount from 30% to 53% and use their Returns Program if you want to sell to bookstores. 

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.

SERVICE

1 BOOK

100 BOOKS

SHIPPING/HANDLING

IngramSpark

x

X

69.74/4.99

Amazon

x

X

UPS

Draft2Digital

x

X

112.17

Lulu

x

X

x

StreetLib

x

X

Amazon

BookBaby

x

X

x

48HourBooks

x

X (+ 25 books)

x

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. 

My recommendation

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. 

Publish professionally!

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. 


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Tags

48HourBooks., Amazon, BookBaby, Compare, Draft2Digital, IngramSpark, KDP Print, lulu, Pre-orders, Royalty, streetlib


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  • Carla, thanks for this informative analysis. I’m currently making this very decision for my first novel. How does sales volume work into this? I’d be happy to earn a smaller royalty if Amazon (with their sales and promo tools) would generate higher volume. I’ve read some experienced authors use both — Amazon for US online distribution and IS for international and other retailers. As well, IS apparently prints a higher quality book, so use them for your own sales and signing copies. They will also produce a hard cover version, if you have the need. Any thoughts on how on how these other points factor into decision making?

    • Wow, fabulous feedback, Carla. Thank you. I’ll be sure to follow up on your suggestions. I was not aware of your freebie consulting. Fifteen minutes with you must be like gold. Will I find how that works on your site?

  • I visited the Ingram Spark website and it seemed to be oriented to large publishers. I was stumped when it asked for an ABA Routing number? What’s that? I am not a member of the American Booksellers Association. I’m going back to CreateSpace. At least they understand how to deal with one lonely author.

  • Hi Carla

    Thank you for this brilliant blog post.

    My situation is that I have my book printing with Createspace. I have the book (same ISBN) ready on IS and would like to swap, but have a couple of doubts that prevent me doing so:
    1. I am concerned that the book may not appear on Amazon for a while.
    2. I am concerned that my existing reviews may be lost.

    Can you explain what would be the actual process to follow? What to do, order of doing…
    If there is a time when the book isn’t available how long would this be for?

    The ebook version locked into the 90 day thing with Amazon and is fine to stay as is.

    – Jono.

  • Hi Carla, thank you for the quick and detailed reply.

    Following your advice I have just enabled distribution on IS, and on KDP confirmed that auto renew is not checked.

    I’ve also done the sums for my print book, and it definitely appears that I would also get more per Amazon sale with IS (than with CS)…

    Would you be able to expand upon why I should not now disable the CS book? My assumption is that if I were to disable it, then IS would determine that I am not currently offering the book through CS, and they (IS) in this case would then distribute to the Amazon channel, and I would get more per sale.

    I don’t understand why I wouldn’t do this if the returns are better! (other than the not showing up as available/in stock thing, perhaps you are one step ahead of me and are not confident that I would show up as in stock on Amazon? – fine if that is the reasoning, I would just like to understand the rationale!)

    The only (other) things that would stop me putting the CS print book on standby are:
    – concern about time being missing from catalogue.
    – losing existing reviews.

    Are these valid concerns? Am I missing something else here!?

    Thank for your help, apologies for lots of questions!

  • I am facing a similar quandry and all comments are welcome. In my case, it’s a colour-photograph heavy book (about 170 pages) and the difference in cost between IS and CS is DRAMATIC (according to my calculations about $9 IS to $21 CS!!!!) While, on surface, that would seem to make the decision easy, I am very concerned about the comment that Amazon would mark the book as “out of stock” if it isn’t “flying” out the door (whatever that means). Although I could go JUST ebook, I’ve already had several people ask for a physical book when it comes out (due to subject matter).

  • Hi Carla –
    Useful, thank you. I’m already using CS for my series (no expanded distribution), with their free ISBNs. If I wanted to set up with IS, I know I’d need new (paid-for) ISBNs; but then I’d have one book with two ISBNs. Is that a problem, do you think?

  • I am published exclusively on the IngramSpark platform with two books and am about to put out a third… and I thought the 55% discount, which I have on all versions (ebook, paper and hc) was de rigeur. I’m sorry if you made this explanation obvious and I didn’t discern, but are you recommending a standard 30 percent discount for all versions of a book offered on the IS platform?

    • That’s right. A 55% discount plus returns program opt-in is only necessary for bookstore distribution

      Online retailers only need 30%.

      You probably wish you could get all that money back!

  • I am about to figure out how to publish my book. I have many people waiting to buy a copy. Should I print the these books first then think of another mode to distribute it wider? It’s a true story of my life and loss. It contains many emotional events with an undertone of the contact I have with healing energy and the afterlife. As it is personal to me I don’t want to make a big mistake with publishing. Macaulay sent me a contract but that looked an absolute rip off and would be an insult to my daughter’s memory.

    • Hi Helen,

      First of all, congratulations on having written a book with a built-in audience. I wish you much success with it!

      Macaulay may or may not be a good solution for you. I googled “Writer Beware Macaulay” (Writer Beware is a watchdog site) and found this http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2016/12/questions-for-vanity-publisher-austin.html – they are a small press but they also provide hybrid services which require you to invest in your book to offset editing, design, packaging…

      Hybrid presses manage the project for you, hiring out or using their own interior and cover designers, not to mention editing and then, when the proof copy comes back, a professional proofreader, then distributing it to the stores.

      Better solutions for you might be Gatekeeper Press or BookBaby.

      Check with all of these companies to find out how much they would charge you for your own books.

      I hope that helps, Helen, and that you’ll get back to me and let me know what option you choose.

  • Hi, I’m getting ready to step into the self-publishing world. A question. In determining royalties I need to tell createspace and ingramspark the number of pages in my book. Createspace’s customer support tells me that 1 piece of paper equals 1 page. Ingramspark’s customer support tells me that one piece of paper with printing on two sides equals 2 pages. Just checking in to see if you have any insight into this. I’d like to configure costs properly before starting. Many thanks for your support.

  • Hi Anne,

    I can understand why you’re confused. Printers charge by the page but they calculate the print cost by asking you the number of pages in your book. So a 200-page book uses 100 sheets of paper.

    Don’t worry. The calculators I’ve linked to in the post will give you apples-to-apples comparison.

    I’d never even thought about it before you brought it up!

  • Hi Carla,
    Great post – your equations made it very clear to me on difference with royalties for CreateSpace (CS) and IngramSpark. Can you address Amazon Advantage (AA) royalties? I compared the royalty for AA to CS and something doesn’t add up. Looks like CS takes a total of 55% (discount plus printing cost). AA stipulates that they take a 55% discount. Since AA does not factor in the cost of the printing (would need to provide printed books via your own publisher), why would anyone use AA?
    Steve

  • Hello;
    We have just launched 3 self-published books (a trilogy) through FriesenPress. While we have invested a small fortune in fees and are waiting to receive our initial book order, we are considering alternate printers in consideration of costs but don’t want to antagonize FriesenPress. What’s your take?

    • Hi Elizabeth,
      Friesen is a good printer. But if your contract is non-exclusive you are free to print, publish, and distribute any way you like. I can’t imagine there would be antagonization or repercussions. It’s like any other business. If you’d care to elaborate privately please use the Contact tab to email me directly.

  • Hi Carla,

    I am new to indie publishing and your post is timely and informative. Thank you. I am targeting my book to middle grade student, 8-12 year olds. So, I will be targeting school libraries and online sales. Not interested in brick-and-mortar. However, I do not understand the distribution costs outside of Ingram. IngramSpark boasts distribution partners mostly online but also print. How is the distributor costs breakdown?

    • I’m so glad to help, Loyd. You’ll get about 10% more if you upload your book directly to the online retailers. You’re paying IngramSpark about that for the convenience of one-stop distribution.

  • I have my book for sale through createspace with my own ISBN number that I purchased from Bowker. I am wondering if self-published authors generally have more success with their book sales if they sell through IngramSpark? Do their books tend to get lost in the sea of books for sale as this seems to be the case with Amazon? Thanks!

    • Over a million books are released per year and if you have not cultivated fans who will give you five-star reviews on book launch week then your book will indeed be lost. Which is why it’s best to cultivate fans from the very beginning by beta publishing. Beta readers can also let you know if your book is good. Take their feedback to heart! This is all early marketing (market research, competitive analysis, beta publishing). If you haven’t done that, try a new platform that sells your book for $0 until it gets star ratings. For more, listen to my Author Friendly podcast episode with Colin Higbie of Scribl https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-author-friendly-podcast/id1411738274 Good luck, Kirsten!

  • The Amazon calculation is wrong. Just check the Amazon royalties page — it should be somewhere around $1 for a book $15 with global distribution and 40% royalties.

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