Understanding IngramSpark Title Processing and Availability

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What happens when your book gets stuck in IngramSpark's title processing? And what if your title is showing up as "temporarily unavailable" or "out of stock" through online retailers? In this post, we'll review common file errors that delay your title processing and how to ensure that your title is available to booksellers worldwide.

If you're looking for help uploading a title in your account, read How to Set Up a Title with IngramSpark. 

IngramSpark Title Processing

Many factors go into making a printed product look ideal, and your files are important elements in the printing process. Ensuring that your files are print-ready is key. Knowing what IngramSpark's file specifications are and making sure your titles meet them will allow for a smooth review process and bring you one step closer to printing your book. Once you press submit on that file upload, you want to see your title approved, and so do we!

IngramSpark’s File Specifications

We offer a File Creation Guide that features our file specifications for both interior and cover files. Not all printers are the same, and we recommend even the most experienced publishers review our File Creation Guide as it contains important file recommendations and terminology you may not be familiar with but that are essential to successful IngramSpark title processing.

Common File Terms

Bleed: The area that goes beyond the edge of the page or cover before trimming. It is ultimately trimmed off. If you have an image or background that you want to print to the edge of the book, when it is bound and trimmed, you will need to extend the image or background past the trim. If you do not, the pages or cover may have white around the edges.

  • Covers require a 0.125” (3mm) bleed on all four sides (an exception is case laminate titles, and they require a 0.625” bleed on all four sides for wrapping purposes).
  • Interior files require a 0.125” (3mm) bleed on the three outer edges, but not the bind side (inside edge) of the page. If your text or artwork is not intended to bleed, you may submit your file at the trim size.

Trim: where the page is cut. The trim size is the final size of your book after trimming. Because our print-on-demand services allow for a 1/16” (0.0625 in/2 mm) variance in printing, any text or images that are too close to the trim edges could be cut in the printing and binding process. We recommend keeping images/text in the safety area.

Safety Area: where text and graphics are not at risk of being trimmed off or lost in binding.

  • For interior files, we recommend a minimum of 0.5” (13 mm) safety area on all sides of your text block.
  • For cover files, we recommend a minimum 0.25” safety area. Also, make sure that you have a 0.0625” (2mm) safety area on both sides of a spine 0.35” or larger. If the spine is smaller, we recommend a 0.03125” (1mm) safety area on both sides of the spine.

To calculate your spine width, you may use our Weight and Spine Width Calculator.

Embedded Fonts: IngramSpark requires all fonts to be embedded in your files. This ensures the look and placement of text on the page, and it is important for keeping the document fonts and layouts as intended. Keep in mind that when you are creating your files, the default Acrobat “Standard” PDF setting does not embed base 14 fonts, and we recommend that all PDF files are submitted as PDF/X-1a (2001) or PDF/x-3 (2002). This is an industry-standard PDF format that embeds fonts by default.

To see if your fonts are embedded, open the PDF in Acrobat, select the File menu, and then Properties. The Fonts tab lists the names of all fonts in the file: (Embedded) or (Embedded Subset) should appear next to all fonts listed. If one of these tags is not listed, the font is not embedded.

Common IngramSpark Title Processing Error Messages

If your title has been placed on waitspecs, you may be wondering what that means and how to move forward. IngramSpark's waitspecs simply mean “Waiting for Customer Specifications” and indicates our file technicians may have discovered something in your file that could cause a printing issue. In many cases, the file will need to be adjusted by the publisher or designer to correct the issue, and it will be submitted as a revision on the account. (Any revisions submitted due to a waitspecs notice will not incur the $25 per file revision fee.) Here are some common waitspecs notifications we see:

Crop Marks on Interior PDF File: Crop marks, printer marks, and registration marks are unnecessary for our printing process, and they could appear when the book is printed. We ask that files be submitted without crop marks, printer marks, or registration marks.  

Complex Image in Interior/Cover PDF File: Complex images can sometimes cause delays in the printing process and should be flattened/rasterized.

Cover File Uploaded for Interior Part (or Interior File Uploaded for Cover Part): In order to ensure your book prints correctly, you may resubmit the files in their respective locations on the file upload page.

Corrupt Interior/Cover File: Typically, a corrupt file occurs when there is a bad font or image, but it can also be caused by a special character (such as an ampersand “&”) in the file name. The errors will need to be fixed to ensure your book prints as intended.

Barcode is Not Formatted Correctly: Barcodes are mandatory on all titles, and barcodes that will not scan will cause delays in the printing process. Barcodes should be black only (0 Cyan / 0 Magenta / 0 Yellow / 100 Black) and placed over a white box or background. Barcodes should also be large enough to scan (we recommend 1.75” x 1”) and should be a vector graphic or high-quality rasterized. A barcode is provided for you when you use our Cover Template Generator.

Cover Layout Submitted is Not Built to the Correct Specifications: If the cover artwork is submitted at the wrong trim size or if it does not correspond to your title’s metadata (trim size, bind type, interior type, page count), you will need to submit a new file. If you are having difficulty formatting your cover to meet our specifications, we recommend using our Cover Template Generator.

Take IngramSpark's Free Online Course, Metadata for Books

Revised Interior/Cover Submission Did Not Fix All Issues: Although new files were uploaded, there are still issues that could occur in printing, and corrected files will need to be submitted.

PDF Document Size is Incorrect: The PDF document size refers to the entire document, including crop marks, measurement notes, and white space of our cover template. The PDF document size is noted in the white area of our cover template.  

Once your title has been fully processed, it's time to make sure it's available to retailers.

IngramSpark Title Availability

Using Ingram’s book distribution service makes your title available for order to over 39,000 bookstores, online retailers, libraries, and schools. Through our relationship, we send title data feeds and the availability status of available titles to them. Each channel partner decides whether to make a title available and how to display the availability of a title. We are pleased that most retailers, like Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Books-A-Million, and hundreds of others, reflect an “In Stock / Available” status for your print-on-demand titles, which is an accurate representation of the immediate availability of your title.

Because your book is printed on-demand, your book is always virtually “in stock” and available to order from us.

We strive to provide retail channels with timely updates with current information, so they have the potential to show IngramSpark titles as “in stock” to their customers. We do recommend that you refer your readers to the channels mentioned if they need immediate availability.

Occasionally, however, channels may list a title as “temporarily unavailable”, available within a certain time frame, or “out of stock.” Every retailer has their own method for determining what the availability status of a title is on their website and, as a retailer, they are free to do so. It is important to remember that although a website may list your title as unavailable, stores can still order your book.

If your title is listed as unavailable for ordering on a retailer’s website, we can rebroadcast the metadata feed we send through the distribution channels. Occasionally this resolves the issue, but we are unable to provide any guarantees, as most availability messages are determined by a retailer's systems, ordering strategies, alternate vendors, etc.

As a best practice, we encourage you to establish your title with a full trade discount and with a returnable status to maximize your availability.


Amazon.com is one of our most popular retail channels, and we can submit a request to Amazon directly concerning your title’s availability, should the need arise. If the title is listed as completely unavailable or “temporarily out of stock,” we request they update your title's availability status. How Amazon lists a title and the availability status on their website is ultimately up to them. Amazon's purchasing decisions are supported by an algorithm that is proprietary to Amazon. In choosing to stock titles or even show products as available on their sites, Amazon considers many pieces of information about your book. Factors in a decision to stock a book may include discount (with a maximum trade discount being most favorable), whether a book is returnable, product page views, and sales history. Even print-on-demand books may not show an "in stock" message on Amazon.

We are only able to submit a request to Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Amazon.co.uk once a title has been in distribution for at least 30 days. We then allow Amazon’s website enough time to update once a title’s metadata is sent before submitting requests.

Retailers in Foreign Markets

If market pricing for countries outside of the United States is listed for your title, it is common to see your title available for sale in those markets. Bookstores can order your title, and online retailers can feature your title on their websites for customers to order.

Set your title up with global pricing in your IngramSpark account today.

Why Isn’t My Book Online?

When you use our book distribution service, a metadata feed is sent to Ingram’s channel partners and retailers immediately for fast efficient stocking. Stores have access to ordering your book if they want to, but it is possible that not every retailer will list your book on their website. Ultimately, this is each retailer’s decision. 

Certainly, keep us informed about any availability issues you experience or data issues you uncover not addressed here. The immediate availability of titles across all our global retailer partners is as important to us as it is to you.


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IngramSpark Staff

IngramSpark® is an award-winning independent publishing platform, offering indie authors and publishers the ability to create, manage, and globally distribute print and ebooks.