Ingram Spark is a new digital publishing solution aimed at small and boutique publishers. This new service is primarily aimed at publishers who expressed dissatisfaction with Ingram Lightning Source. Spark has a very simple user interface that can convert your word document or PDF file into a proper ebook and then distribute your work to Kobo, Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble. Not only can your book be offered digitally, but you can opt into physical distribution to bookstores. Plus, when the book is ordered from the catalog, Ingram will print and ship it for you at no cost.
The entire backbone of Ingram Spark comes from Ingram Lightning Source. This is a very well developed platform that many large publishers use to distribute content digitally or to physical bookstores. The main complaint that we have heard over the years is that it was inaccessible to small and medium sized publishing companies due to the bulky and advanced interface.
There are a few key features to Ingram Spark that are worth mentioning. It has a conversion service that will take your PDF, Word, or other documents and convert it to ePUB or another ebook format of your choice. Most of the time, ebooks and tangible books require an ISBN number and customers will be diverted to Bowker to complete the transaction. You can track your sales on a unified portal that documents all of the important metrics. Every 24 hours, the data is repopulated, so most of your data will remain current. Speaking of sales, you can establish different prices, depending on the markets you want to target. On the beta version we saw, it only supports USA, Canada, European Union, and Australia. You can establish a publication date for when you want the book to be live, which aids publishers in adding their entire catalog in advance. When it comes to getting paid, you can attach your bank account to the portal and set a threshold limit on when the direct deposit will be made.
The most compelling feature on Spark is the ability to bundle your digital and physical version at the same time. There are plenty of advanced options to set up the tangible copy of the book, before it’s ever shipped. You can set up the interior type to be black and white, standard color, or premium color. There are even options to establish the binding, such as Case Laminate, Cloth Bound, Perfect Bound, and Saddle Stitch. Finally, you can even tweak the paper type and laminate type.
Ingram is one of the largest distribution companies in the world and handles millions of book titles being shipped to bookstores all over the world. It is responsible for actually shipping the Kobo brand of e-readers all over the world. The company’s far reach makes it the best choice for any small, medium, or large publishing houses. So, obviously, Ingram Spark is not free. If you want to have your ebook and Print on Demand edition available, it will cost a $49.00 fee per title. If you want to distribute the electronic version only, it will cost $25.00. No matter how many titles you have on Spark, there is an annual $12.00 fee to be continuously listed in the catalogs.
Ingram Spark is tentatively set to launch this July, but final release date may change as the system undergoes refinement. Once this has a full launch, I would seriously recommend this to most small and boutique publishers who are looking for further distribution than what Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space can offer.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.