As regulars to the blog know, I independently published my crime series via Triskele Books, an author collective. I wanted creative control and the best possible quality. I also wanted ebooks AND print.

I published my paperbacks with Lightning Source, the Print-On-Demand experts. As did all the Triskele authors and each of us is delighted with the results. Lightning Source Inc (LSI) is part of the Ingram Content Group, which launched its latest initiatve –  IngramSpark – at Book Expo America.

Triskele Books are always curious about the latest publishing industry developments and watched the announcement with great interest. 

So I asked Lightning Source to talk about the way they work with indie publishers like ourselves and what the future holds.  

David Taylor, President of Lightning Source UK, was more than happy to talk to us and outline the company’s plans. In a two-part interview, David explains the IngramSpark initiative and answers our questions on LSI and indie authors.

Lightning Source – From the Horse’s Mouth (Part I)

Why did Ingram develop IngramSpark?

Many of our publishers have asked us to create a service where they can easily distribute their content in all formats to our vast network of retail partners. IngramSpark is a response to those requests. Additionally, we wanted to streamline our sales, account setup, content management and customer support activities by providing publishers with a better experience through a self service, completely online portal where they manage all their activity in one place.

Does this mean Ingram is getting into the self-publishing business?

We are in the business of servicing our upstream (publishers) and downstream (retailers, library) partners. As the definition of “publisher” has evolved in the industry to “content provider”, Ingram will provide services to assist getting that content to market, as we have done from the beginning. Ingram Content Group work with all publisher segments in the industry.

What services will the IngramSpark program offer?

IngramSpark will launch with global POD service via LSI-US; LSI-UK and LSI-AU. Additionally eBook service via the CS-fulfillment channel will provide distribution to over 100 online retailers. In August, the CS+ network comes online making eBook content available for Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Nook and 13 other major e-retailers.

Plans are underway for IngramSpark to also offer file conversion services, ISBN purchase via an arrangement with Bowker, and a marketing program that includes advertising via Ingram’s Advance catalogues, press release and book review services.

Publishers using IngramSpark will pay for services and fees by credit card they have on file in their account.

What is the difference between IngramSpark and LSI print services?

LSI is a pioneer and innovator in POD technology so all that LSI has to offer in choice of format, trim size and color options will be available to the IngramSpark publisher. The cost of printing and shipping content is the same in both platforms. LSI allows more flexibility in terms of a publisher being able to set a range of channel discounts where Spark applies a standard trade discount of 55%. LSI accounts have an assigned CSR where Spark is designed as a self service platform with limited support.

As LSI print service users, we’re wondering what that means for us.

Just to be clear – we are not trying to move customers over to Spark, just provide greater choice in the market.

IngramSpark launches Monday 1 July

Part 2 of David’s interview is out now.