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IngramSpark and Ingram Services: What Self-Publishers Need to Know

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Ingram Content Group is the largest distributor of books in the world. Their most notable brand for self-publishers is the IngramSpark self-publishing platform, but it’s helpful to know about their other relevant services. In fact, IngramSpark is a subsidiary of a larger division in the Ingram Content Group: Lightning Source International, or LSI for short.

In this guide to Ingram services, we’ll focus on just those services that are relevant to indie authors and small presses:

  • IngramSpark: distribution of eBooks and POD printed books
  • Lightning Source Intl.: distribution of POD-printed books
  • Ingram Publisher Services: traditional distribution for larger presses
  • Ingram iPage: book ordering for retailers and libraries
  • Ingram iD: advertising platform for simplifying online ad placement
Guide to IngramSpark within Ingram Content Group-Self-Publishing

IngramSpark​


IngramSpark is a self-publishing platform that allows authors and publishers to independently publish and distribute their books in both print (paperback and hardcover) and digital (ePub) formats to Amazon and many other online retailers.

Print books are printed on demand (POD) and available to a wide range of retailers—both online and brick-and-mortar—in the US and internationally. A book in the IngramSpark catalogue, if enabled for distribution, is included in the Ingram iPage online ordering catalogue.

IngramSpark is a subsidiary of Lightning Source International, often referred to as LSI. IngramSpark can be used instead of, or in conjunction with, Amazon KDP Print.

Lightning Source (LSI)​


Lightning Source is a subsidiary of Ingram Content Group, and it operates IngramSpark. It provides a range of services to traditional large publishers and multiauthor small presses.

The print quality is the same between IngramSpark and Lightning Source because the same printers are used. A key difference is that IngramSpark is aimed at self-publishers so it has a more user-friendly interface, with limited reporting and other title-management tools that self-publishers usually don’t require. IngramSpark can also be used to distribute eBooks, whereas Lightning Source only distributes print books.

Ingram Publisher Services (IPS)​


IngramSpark and Lightning Source are printers, and their systems are integrated with distribution, notably Ingram iPage. Ingram Publisher Services, on the other hand, provides a much broader range of services.

These services are geared toward large publishing operations, and if you want to be considered for inclusion, you’ll need to go through a qualification process. Candidates generally must:

  • Have a publishing program with a minimum of six title releases per year and annual gross revenue greater than $250,000.
  • Be willing to sell to Ingram at a 60% discount and on a returnable basis.
  • Have a leadership team with deep book-industry experience (for example, providing book marketing and publicity support).

Traditional distribution​


Using IPS distribution services is like using other book distributors, who often offer additional services. Besides distribution, some of IPS’s key capabilities include:

  • Warehousing and fulfillment: IPS provides warehousing and order fulfillment services, which means publishers don't have to manage large inventories of books.
  • Sales representation: IPS often includes sales representation, where dedicated sales teams work to promote and sell publishers' titles to book retailers, specialty stores, and other outlets. Promotion targets can include both physical and online retailers.
  • Marketing and publicity support: IPS may offer marketing and publicity services to help promote and create awareness around publishers' titles. This can include creation of catalogues and promotional materials, and providing assistance with marketing campaigns.

Note that self-publishers are not excluded from using IPS; they just need to have the sales volume to be accepted into the program. A good example of an author who made this leap is Barbara Freethy, who formed her own publishing imprint, Hyde Street Press, and began using IPS services.

Under IPS, Ingram Content Group has two full-service distributors that provide the above services: : Publishers Group West and Two Rivers.

For more insights about this service, check out this episode of the IBPA podcast. It’s also here on YouTube.

Ingram powers other self-publishing platforms​


Ingram also provides distribution to other businesses that serve self-publishers. Examples of those are:

  • Blurb
  • BookBaby
  • Draft2Digital
  • PublishDrive
Tip: Keep in mind that when using one of these, you’ll be managing your book listing at a retailer website with another layer between you and your reader. For example, here’s how that looks for selling a book on Amazon:

List with Draft2Digital > they send it to Ingram (not IngramSpark) > Ingram sends it to Amazon > Amazon displays book to shoppers

Compare this to using Amazon KDP:

List with KDP > Amazon displays book to shoppers

Learn more about Ingram Publisher Services and distribution

Ingram iPage​


Ingram iPage is an online catalogue and ordering system designed for booksellers, librarians, and other book-industry professionals to browse and order books and related products.

This list of more than 40,000 users with iPage accounts includes:

  • Independent bookstores
  • Online stores
  • Chain stores
  • eBook retailers
  • Libraries
  • Universities

Booksellers with an Ingram iPage account use it for:

  • Order Placement: Users can place orders for physical books (print-on-demand or traditional) and digital content directly through the platform.
  • Title Information: Detailed information about each title is available on iPage, including metadata, pricing, availability, and format details.
  • Account Management: Users can manage their accounts on iPage, including order history, invoices, and other account-related information.
  • Availability Information: iPage provides real-time information on the availability of titles, helping users make informed decisions when placing orders.
How do self-publishers get their books into Ingram iPage? By using POD via IngramSpark, Amazon KDP Expanded Distribution, or one of the partners noted at the end of this article. For books printed in bulk, contact AuthorImprints about our distribution services.

Ingram iD, an advertising platform​


Ingram iD is an advertising platform that provides self-publishers and traditional publishers an opportunity to reach consumers using single interface instead of going to each advertising platform individually. They connect to three third-party networks and five Ingram-owned reader-facing websites.

Third-party advertising networks​

  • Facebook Promoted Ads—displayed in Facebook news feeds
  • Google Search Ads—displayed in search results
  • Google Display Ads—displayed in articles, videos, and websites that participate in Google’s Display Network

Ingram-owned reader-facing websites​


Use your Ingram iD accounts to advertise books and send promotional emails, much like those used in promoting price-drop promotions.

The quoted information is how the website describes itself or mission.

  • Bookfinity—“The mission of Bookfinity is to bring books directly to you, the reader! This is done through a fun quiz and personalized book recommendations for all Reader Types.”
  • Shelf Savvy—“We find the best deals for hardcover, paperback, audiobooks, and eBooks, so readers don’t have to. Sign up now to save up to 90% off from your favorite retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble!”
  • Little Infinite—“Joining this list will get you the hookup for: email newsletters, updates on new poetry resources, contests, giveaways, gift guides and more!”
  • Her Promotion—“Her Promotion is the go-to resource for the modern businesswoman. We’re here to make upgrading all aspects of your life easier. Providing tools, strategic advice, and tips straight from the experts through our weekly newsletter, downloadable guides, and empowering community.”
  • Page and Pairing—“At Page and Pairing, we believe books are best enjoyed in the company of a delightful wine and simply prepared delicious food — which is why we set out to drop a book recommendation, a wine pairing, and accompanying food recipe in your inbox every other week.”
Tip: signing up for an Ingram iD account is free and you’ll have access to an excellent blog loaded with useful marketing articles

Do you need help with self-publishing?​


AuthorImprints specializes in self-publishing services for authors and small presses.

  • If you are interested in a quote for services, start here by completing this brief contact form.
  • If you’d like to schedule a consultation with founder David Wogahn, please visit our consulting page for the two options. The shorter 30-minute option is usually sufficient for specific topics.

In the meantime, here’s a summary of Ingram Content Group services organized by type of interest:

  • Self-publishers: primarily IngramSpark and Ingram iD
  • Retailers and libraries: Ingram iPage
  • Publishers: primarily Lightning Source, Ingram Publishing Services, and Ingram iD

Ingram Content Group also provides services to numerous self-publishing platforms—Amazon, Blurb, BookBaby, Draft2Digital, PublishDrive, and many more—which allow them to service their author clients.
 
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