Thursday, November 16, 2017

IngramSpark VS Amazon

Last month I published Unearthed After Sunset. Usually, I only publish my paperbacks through Amazon and reach out to other distributors for the e-book copy of the book. But, this time I decided to use both Amazon and IngramSpark.

First, I want to talk about my reasons for wanting to use IngramSpark. In the past, I would set up multiple accounts to get my books available as many places as possible. I had a KDP account, a CreateSpace account, a B&N account and an account at Kobo. After some time I realized that checking in with all of these accounts was time-consuming and I still didn't have my book in as many places as I wanted. What's awesome about Ingram is that you set up one account and your book is available in both paperback and e-book basically everywhere.

Benefits of using Ingram Spark:

1. Availability to 70+ Major Online Retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks
2. Ability to produce hardcovers (which I haven't done yet, but would love to!)
3. All your sales and data in one place
4.Better returns if you sell to bookstores, and you're more likely to get into bookstores (Amazon doesn't give bookstores as good of a discount to buy your book as IngramSpark does)

So, if Ingram is so awesome, then why not only use Ingram (they will make your book available on Amazon after all)? Here's the thing, Amazon is where I sell most of my books, and even with how awesome IngramSpark is, Amazon has some benefits of its own.

Benefits of using Amazon (KDP or CreateSpace):

1. KDP promotional deals like free days (You can only use these if you exclusively sell on Amazon)
2. Easier to use, publish, update books, check sales - The KDP and CreateSpace sites are waaay more user-friendly than IngramSpark
3.No set-up fees (IngramSpark has a $50 set-up fee)
4.Easier to create and upload inside files. Formatting your files for e-pub is a lot harder than formatting for Kindle (Formatting the PDF for your paperback is about the same)
5.Easier to create and upload the cover file. (Amazon's book cover creator makes everything so much simpler)
6.No worries about your book being "out of stock." If you use Amazon to print your book it will never be out of stock, but if you use IngramSpark to supply Amazon with your book, if you're not flying off the shelves, Amazon may mark you as "temporarily out of stock"

So, here's what I do. I use Amazon's KDP [which now allows for publishing paperbacks as well so I don't need to use CreateSpace] to make my book available on Amazon only. This makes it easy to upload my book to the place where I get the most sales. It also makes checking those sales easier as the KDP site is easier to navigate. This also means my print book will never be "temporarily out of stock on Amazon. Then I also have an IngramSpark account to get my book into B&N, Kobo, I-Books and more. That way I can reach a lot of retailers and have only one place to check the rest of my sales. This also means if I want to pull my book from all other retailers to take advantage of KDP select and free days, I only have one site to pull it from. So essentially, I'm trying to get the best of both worlds.

A Look At Quality:

When it comes to my e-books. They're basically the same whether you purchase them through Amazon, or say B&N where the file comes from IngramSpark. The same cannot be said for paperbacks.

Here's a side by side comparison of what my printed book looks like from each company. Both IngramSpark and Amazon offer various sizes and both gloss and matte finishes. I chose the matte finish, which had basically the same look on each book.

(Left: IngramSpark, Right: Amazon)
Looking at the books side by side it's clear there are a few differences.

1. The colors on the IngramSpark copy are brighter and more true to my design
2. The Amazon copy has a slight white line on the bottom right corner of the cover (This was my proof copy, I believe I've fixed this issue, though I'm not sure what caused it)
3. They are not the exact same size. - Both books were printed as 5x8, but it's important to know that they are NOT the exact same size. So, if you are writing a series be aware that if a reader buys book #1 from Amazon and book #2 in the series from an IngramSpark retailer, they will not match.

Ingram Spark


Top: Ingram
Bottom: Amazon

Left: Ingram, Right: Amazon
There were also some differences inside the book. In the photo below, you can see that my photo on my Author's Page is much better quality in my IngramSpark book than in the one from Amazon. The overall paper quality seemed nicer in my IngramSpark book as well. The IngramSpark book was noticeably thinner than my Amazon book.
(Left: Ingram, Right: Amazon)

(Left: Ingram, Right: Amazon)

Books printed through Ingram Spark are better quality. That said, my Amazon book certainly wasn't poor quality, and Amazon in general is a lot easier (and cheaper) to use. If you're a new-bie author looking to publish your first book, maybe start with just Amazon. If you want to try and get your books into more retailers and have a good understanding of formatting go with IngramSpark (or do both, like I did.)

Indie Book Goal 2018