Here's how authors can use both Amazon KDP Print and IngramSpark for distribution when self-publishing your books and advance reader copies (ARCs).
If you're like most authors, you're confused about how to distribute your print book. I'll get straight to the point. I like a combination of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and IngramSpark to get your book into the online retailers. This post explains why.
Steps to Printing Your Book
In this post, you'll learn:
- Is your book ready to print
- What is Amazon KDP Print
- What is IngramSpark
- Why sell direct to Amazon with Amazon KDP
- What can IngramSpark do for you
- How to distribute both print books and ebooks
Are You Ready to Print?
Your book is ready to print once you've tested with early readers, had it edited, and paid for a great book cover design. Now it's time to send out Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) to reviewers or, if you've already done that, to distribute the books to readers in print and ebook formats. This post is about your print distribution (and ARC) options with a combination of Amazon KDP and IngramSpark.
You'll find a list of book review services (trade reviews and paid reviews) in my Consumer's Guide. This is my free gift to subscribers. Sign up to get it here.
What is Amazon KDP Print?
Amazon KDP is Amazon's tool for getting your print book into the Amazon store. Your book will be printed on-demand (POD) and sold in the Amazon store only. This is what you want to do: enjoy a direct relationship with Amazon in their store but do not use their Expanded Distribution Program to reach any other stores. (More on that further down the page.)
Amazon KDP will print your book in black and white or color on creme or white paper but the paper quality for color isn't really good enough for heavily illustrated books. So if you want to print a lush, full-color book, I suggest printing with IngramSpark where you can select a heavier paper stock.
THE ONLY THING AMAZON KINDLE PRINT DOES...
The only thing you should use Amazon Kindle Print for is to get your print book into the Amazon store. Nowhere else.
Yes. They have an Expanded Distribution Program (EDP).
No. Don't use it.
You cannot set the discount to 30% for online retailers or the 53% discount that bricks-and-mortar bookstores require. Strangely, Amazon's KDP sets the discount at 40%. (I don't know why.) Plus, they don't offer the Returns program bookstores require.
Simply use Amazon Kindle Print to get your print book into the Amazon store or to print test copies of your book quickly and cheaply.
What is IngramSpark?
IngramSpark is an ebook and POD printing service and distribution company.
IngramSpark is owned by Ingram, the largest book distribution company in the world. They distribute your books to online retailers and bricks-and-mortar bookstores.
IngramSpark offers variable discount rates so you can set set a 30% discount on your books to sell online. If you want to sell to bricks-and-mortar bookstores you can set a "short" discount to 40% to make it more attractive to bookstores if a customer wants to order your book, or use the 53% discount an Returns program that bookstores require to stock your book.
IngramSpark prints hardcover books as well as paperback books, and offers the widest array of standard book sizes.
You could simplify your life by using only IngramSpark, but I recommend "going direct" to Amazon KDP to sell to the Amazon store. Here's why.
Why Go Direct With Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing?
Why sell direct to Amazon with Amazon KDP?
Always in stock
Because you have a direct relationship with Amazon (via their Kindle Direct Publishing tool), your book will always show that it's in stock in the Amazon store. But, if you distribute to Amazon using IngramSpark or another vendor, your book may occasionally show an out-of-stock message on Amazon. This can happen for many reasons (which Amazon keeps to itself), but it most commonly occurs when your book lags in sales. This result alone is a good reason to go direct with Amazon KDP.
Easy to use
The Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing interface is easier to use than IngramSpark and their customer service is very good. They also have looser tolerances and do a lot of hand-correcting to files that aren't quite right. So if you're a beginner, it's just easier to go with Amazon KDP first.
Printing ARCs and testing your design
As long as you do NOT fill in a Publication Date in KDP, your book will remain private and you can print one to five copies for your own use. This is a very good step to take. Order advance copies and make sure your book looks great.
Again, you can print up to five copies of your book with Amazon while it's marked private. But if you need more books to send out as Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) for reviewers, you'll probably want to print ARCs at IngramSpark, which offers unlimited ARCs.
Leave the Rest to Ingramspark
Publish and distribute your book using both Amazon KDP and IngramSpark because you'll enjoy a direct relationship with Amazon, which is always good, and you'll get very wide distribution to online retailers and bookstores with IngramSpark.
In addition, I always suggest that authors create a hardcover version of their book, at least for launch, because friends and family will want them. IngramSpark can do that, so you can offer these to bookstores at a 53% discount with returns program while enjoying a larger percentage of royalties with the 30% discount for distribution to the online retailers for your paperback. Libraries also like hardcovers because they're more durable.
Make sure you own your ISBNs so you can change your mind about where to print and distribute any time you like. (See my post on why you should Own Your ISBNs.)
How to Distribute Both Print Books and Ebooks
So that's an introduction to using a combination of Amazon KDP and IngramSpark to distribute your print book. But what about ebooks?
See my post on Distribution: How Your Book Gets to Your Readers for complete information and a recommended path with a list of ebook distributors I trust.
That post will show you how your book gets into the mailbox (virtual or physical) of your readers.
I Have a Free Self-Publishing Toolkit for You
Need more self-publishing advice? I've put together a free toolkit with a Consumer's Guide for Authors, Editors and Publishers that includes reviews of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, B&N Nook, Apple, Google Play, Kobo, and all the other brand names you've heard of and many that you haven't!
I want to help you self-publish well, doing it right the first time and preventing false starts and mistakes that could set you back months. Let's get your book into the hands of your readers as soon as possible!
So grab the Consumer's Guide along with a metadata cheat sheet and book launch checklist, plus a mini-email course on self-publishing.
I look forward to seeing you in the inbox.
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