Book Distribution as an Afterthought – You Still Have Options

Thursday, June 02, 2016

by Robin Cutler, Director of IngramSpark
I’ve written and presented many times on the value of using print on demand (POD) as a means to get broad book distribution in bringing your book to the global marketplace while reducing your overall financial risk. This is especially a good path as a new author with a first book where the demand is unknown.

While I’ll stick to my guns by saying that it’s not the best idea to invest in inventory at the beginning of your publishing venture, if you’ve already done it and want Ingram distribution, don’t worry.

I often suggest that authors use their inventory for their own direct sales from their own author website, promotions, and events but also get broader distribution by setting up the book through a POD/distribution program like IngramSpark. This will ensure you gain global wholesale distribution which is important to the success of your book without having to invest anything more than a nominal setup fee. With this approach, your book is listed in the Ingram catalog where a retailer or library can find and order it. The book is manufactured via POD and then you are paid for that sale. Many traditional publishers that are supplying inventory to Ingram also set their book up for POD distribution so that if there is a time when inventory isn’t available, POD can be used to fill the gap. So this is more common than you might have thought.

With IngramSpark, print on demand (POD) is tied directly to Ingram’s global network to make for a seamless and inexpensive way to distribute your print books. With no inventory on hand, books are manufactured (POD) or distributed (e-book) as retailers place orders. The publisher is paid for the sale minus the cost of printing (POD only) so there’s no up-front inventory costs other than a nominal fee to setup your title in the IngramSpark platform.

Things to Consider Before Creating Your Book

What I often hear when I talk to first-time authors who have printed their book is that they had an image of their finished book without fully considering the reader. They will sometimes opt for non-standard trim sizes, landscape orientation and premium color printing and will pay thousands of dollars to realize this vision. More often than not, these beautiful books languish in stacked-up boxes in their garage.

My advice is to tell your story but be sensible about the formatting of your book—keep it standard. This will save you money and also ensure that your options remain open through the lifetime of your book. If you are investing in illustrations for a children’s book, consider a smaller trim size and go vertical (portrait) rather than horizontal (landscape) orientation. Trust me when I say that a child doesn’t care how your book is oriented if they love your story and pictures. In fact, a smaller book is easier for them to manage.


Robin Cutler

As the Director of IngramSpark at Ingram Content Group, Robin is committed to helping independent publishers easily get their content into the hands of readers around the globe. To help make this happen, she leads the development of IngramSpark and continues to support and refine the platform to better serve independent publishers around the world. She is a leader in the independent publishing space, and when not developing new programs and services for IngramSpark, she can often be found sharing her expertise at industry events around the world.