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Which Distribution Platform Is Right for You: IngramSpark vs. Kindle Direct Publishing

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Regardless of which stage of the writing process you may be at, it’s never too early to learn more about your publishing options.

Today, many authors self-publish their work. Self-publishing gives you creative control and the ability to change your book at any stage of the process.

If you’re new to self-publishing, or just want some guidance, I’m here to help! You also can download my FREE guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch, to help you with marketing your book. I created this guide after five years of working closely with authors, successfully launching over 100 books.

Two major distribution platforms you can use to launch your book are IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

In this post, I’ll answer the following questions:

Have you used IngramSpark or KDP before? If so, help your fellow authors out by leaving your advice in the comments section below.

What is a print-on-demand service (POD)?

Print-on-demand (POD) means that when a retailer or an online consumer purchases your book, the service provider then prints and ships the book to the buyer. So, for example, if your grandmother purchases ten copies of your book online to give to her knitting posse for Christmas, the service provider would then print and ship the 10 copies. This method ensures there’s no additional stock of books (in a warehouse or in your second bedroom), reducing unnecessary expenses.

What is IngramSpark?

IngramSpark is a print-on-demand (POD) service for self-published authors.

When you publish with IngramSpark, they make your book available online in over 40,000 retailers and libraries, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores. Brick and mortar retailers can purchase books from IngramSpark, so if they want to carry your book on their shelves, they can.

One highlight of publishing with IngramSpark is the variety of printing options. You can opt to print your book in paperback or in hardcover with case laminate or jacketed case laminate options. Peruse the possibilities here.

What is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a print-on-demand service that is owned by Amazon. Using KDP, you can upload your book, the manuscript and all the book’s details so that it’s made available for readers to purchase on Amazon.

While publishing with KDP can limit your distribution options, remember that Amazon is, well, Amazon! It’s the most popular bookseller for consumers and countless authors have found great success publishing with KDP.

Amazon is now offering the option to print in hardcover, however at the time of writing, it’s only possible to print your book in case-laminate hardcover. Case-laminate hardcover means that KDP prints the cover directly on the book cover instead of on a book jacket. You always have the option of printing in paperback or publishing an eBook.

When you publish with KDP, you gain access to the various advertising and promotion services that Amazon provides. These services include Amazon marketing services (keyword advertising) and A+ content, which you use to increase discoverability on the platform.

How much do these platforms cost to use?

Both IngramSpark and KDP are affordable distribution platforms for many authors. Compare the fees for each platform below:

IngramSpark fees

  • Publishing a print book and an eBook: $49 USD / title

  • Publishing a print book only: $49

  • Publishing an eBook only: $25

  • After publication, revisions to the manuscript or cover incur additional fees. These fees can add up, so I recommend you avoid making changes unless they’re necessary.

KDP fees

  • None, it’s totally free to use! There are no upload fees or fees for changing your manuscript or book cover.

How much does it cost to print author copies?

To start, you might be wondering what an author copy is. Author copies are copies of the book the author purchases for promotional use, including copies they send to reviewers, influencers, etc. Instead of buying the books at full price, authors can purchase them for the amount it costs to print the books. Although the price can differ based on the length and cover of your book, here is some general information about the costs for printing author copies on each platform:

IngramSpark printing price

  • Printing price for a 200-page paperback: $4 + shipping and handling fees

  • Printing price for a 200-page hardcover: $10 + shipping and handling fees

Note: shipping and handling is roughly $5-6, depending on where in the US you’re shipping.

IngramSpark has a printing calculator you can use to determine the shipping and handling fees for your specific book.

KDP printing price

  • Paperback with black ink, 24-108 pages: $2.15 USD per book

  • Paperback with black ink, 110-828 pages: $0.85 per book + $0.012 per page

Using these numbers, let’s uncover how much it will cost to print a 200-page paperback with black ink:

$0.85 + ($0.012 x 200 pages) = ?

$0.85 + $2.40 = $3.25

KDP has this calculator you can use to determine the printing cost of your paperback book.

What are the pros and cons of each platform?

Here are some pros and cons for each self-publishing option:


Some pros for publishing with IngramSpark include:

  • the ability to sell your book through online retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, and more

  • independent bookstores and libraries can order and carry your book

  • a wider variety of printing options (paperback, jacketed-hardcover, case-laminate)

  • earning higher royalties

Some cons for publishing with IngramSpark include:

  • set up fees

  • fees to make changes to your manuscript or book cover

  • less user-friendly interface

  • shipping and handling fees for author copies

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Some pros for publishing with KDP:

  • easy-to-use program

  • cheaper author copies

  • no hidden fees

  • can easily change your manuscript or book cover for free

  • can use Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ads to promote your book and help with discoverability

Some cons for publishing with KDP include:

  • higher fees for expanded distribution

  • limited amount of distribution options

  • lower royalties

  • limited options for hardcover printing

Which platform is right for me?

Now that you know more about these two distribution platforms, you can decide which is the right option for you. Note that it’s also possible to utilize both platforms, which I’ll explain in the following section.

To determine which publishing platform you may use, first consider your publishing goals. Here are some questions that you can consider to help you define your goals:

  • Are you working with a tight budget and need to keep costs low? (consider KDP)

  • Is it important that your book is in as many retailers as possible? (IngramSpark)

  • Do you want to publish your book in hardcover? (IngramSpark)

  • Is it likely that you’ll edit your book or change your cover after publication? (KDP)

  • Is having Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to help you advertise and promote your book important to you? (KDP)

Remember that neither option is a bad choice, but there may be a better choice for the type of book campaign you’re planning.

Can I use both platforms?

Of course! I actually recommend utilizing both IngramSpark and KDP to most authors that I work with to help maximize the opportunities that each platform provides. However, you can only use both platforms if you own your own ISBN number. I highly recommend purchasing your own ISBN numbers and not using free numbers provided by Amazon.

If you decide to use both platforms, avoid issues with ISBN numbers by uploading your book to KDP before uploading it to IngramSpark. Also, if using both platforms you need to opt out of expanded distribution on KDP.

Another suggestion is to publish the eBook and paperback copies through KDP and utilize IngramSpark to publish your hardcover version, as this publisher gives you more hardcover printing options.

Whether you’re in the midst of the writing process or have already finished your book, now is the perfect time to consider a marketing strategy. To help you get started, I’m offering a FREE download of my guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch. This valuable resource is packed with expert tips and strategies to empower you to craft an effective book launch and connect with a larger audience of eager readers.

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