Controversy at the IngramSpark indie publishing forum

Chris Stead
 | Updated May 17, 2021

Controversy at the IngramSpark indie publishing forum

Chris Stead
 | Updated May 17, 2021

At the Indie Publishing Forum in Sydney, Australia, Robyn Cutler - the head of IngramSpark - said something quite controversial. But it provided an insight self-published indie authors shouldn't miss.

I recently attended the Indie Publishing Forum and it was quite fantastic. It was great not only being among other indie authors, but also hearing expert advice from the best in the business. The Indie Publishing Forum is a new initiative created in partnership with IngramSpark, Books+Publishing and the Australian Society of Authors. It was the first time it had been held in Sydney and I certainly hope there are many more.

Of everything I heard through the day, there was one comment that threw me. A controversial comment, but ultimately well-meaning.

Authors Should use Createspace says the Head of IngramSpark

Robyn Cutler, head of IngramSpark, gave a really interesting presentation with many nuggets of useful information. Her most controversial statement, however, came in post keynote Q&A. When asked about Createspace/KDP vs. IngramSpark, Robyn confidently stated that for the best chance of commercial success on Amazon, authors should use Createspace/KDP to distribute to Amazon. They should use IngramSpark for bookstores, author events and direct sales.

This is the path we recommend to our authors here at Old Mate Media. It's what our experience with our own books, and the many books we've made for indie authors, has told us. It is also championed by many in the industry. Still, it was both surprising and refreshing - and not a little bit controversial - to hear that point of view shared by the head of IngramSpark. Robyn Cutler was telling a room full of indie authors who want to sell their books on Amazon, not to use her company. Controversial indeed!

Here are some of the other key industry updates from Robyn’s speech:

  • Each year IngramSpark is adding more booksellers to their distribution platform. The previous trend of bookstores closing seems to be reversing.
  • Bowker (issuer of ISBNs) views indie publishing as a maturing industry. The self-publisher is now the business owner of their own content.
  • IngramSpark serves more than 50,000 authors and has more than four million titles on their platform.
  • In 2017, IngramSpark was the largest distributor of ebooks with 180 million digital distributions.
  • In the USA there is a trend of libraries and independent bookstores starting their own publishing imprints.
  • The IngramSpark website is updating and will feature:
    1. Enhanced metadata
    2. Marc record (US)
    3. Formatting templates
    4. ISBN options

Where to Next?

Of course, that was just the start. Robyn also provided her top 12 tips for indie authors hoping to make it in the self-publishing industry. I recommend reading those insights here.

Chris Stead

Chris Stead is an award-winning author and editor with over 26-years of experience in the publishing industry. After publishing over 1000 magazines and launching a dozen commercial websites, fatherhood saw him turn his attention to the world of children's picture books and self-publishing. He now makes books for himself and countless indie authors around the globe.

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