Last July Ingram launched IngramSpark. Although touted by many as Ingram’s answer to print and publishing services like CreateSpace, Lulu and Smashwords, IngramSpark was actually intended to be an easy-to-use platform for publishers lacking the resources of many larger publishers. The launch created a greal deal of news and debate, but also quickly exposed a reluctance by small publishers, and particularly self-published authors, to switch across from rival competitors due to IngramSpark’s locked retail discount of 55%. Even authors looking to open new accounts at Lightning Source, Ingram’s global POD print and fulfillment operation, baulked at the suggestion that they should give IngramSpark a try for its sofistication and ease of use.
In November, TIPM featured a full review of IngramSpark, and I noted the following:
IngramSpark is still a work in progress and I am only too aware, in the few months since its July launch, that many authors haven’t—and won’t—switch because of the locked 55% retail discount. I know only too well that Robin Cutler and Ingram executives are very much open to feedback from IngramSpark’s newest account holders on this issue, and while they won’t commit to saying anything publicly, I am convinced that it is simply a question of when they relent on the locked retailer discount, not if they will. I’d be happy with a two-tier discount system—say 55% and a lower 40%. I share the opinion that if self-publishers are serious about selling books into physical bookstores, that few buyers beyond a handful of local independent stores prepared to support and host local authors, are going to accept much below 40% as a discount on the retail price of a book. I know some authors who negotiate with independent sellers and can achieve even lower discounts, but believe me, it remains a vast exception to the rules of the industry.~ IngramSpark Reviewed, TIPM, November, 2013
Late yesterday, Ingram’s Robin Cutler (Manager of Content Acquisition) and Andy Bromley (Marketing Manager) confirmed to TIPM that IngramSpark would indeed introduce a two-tier retail discount for publishers—the original 55% and a new lower discount of 40%. The good news is that the new lower discount will be available to IngramSpark account holders from today, January 9th.
Those viewing the news with a note of cynicism might argue that the decision is more a reaction to a lower amount of new IngramSpark accounts than initially expected, but I would counter this with the view that Ingram always made it clear from the beginning it would listen and adapt the platform to the needs of publishers. I also received feedback from authors who signed up with Spark and (perhaps foolishly) assumed that this new Ingram platform would offer the same discount flexibility available at Lightning Source. A company tends to listen to the voices of its clients quicker than it will to outside opinion and criticism. That said, Ingram has developed a highly open and engaging commentary through social media over the past few months; TIPM can certainly confirm this. Indeed, Amazon, with its CreateSpace and KDP platforms, could learn a great deal from the proactive stance of Ingram recently.
Ingram has also confirmed that the new discount of 40% will be the standard rate for publishers setting up titles, however the company has no plans to introduce shorter discounts available from Lightning Source.
With further developments planned for IngramSpark this year, Robin Cutler also confirmed via email to TIPM that she was also aware of concerns small publishers had with its lower discounts on e-books.
We are also reviewing our ebook discount schedule in hopes we can make some adjustments there going forward but that is still in the works.~ Robin Cutler, Ingram
While I don’t expect a tidal wave of new IngramSpark accounts, I definitely think self-published authors will give Spark a serious second look this time around.
Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant
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