An Unexpected Twist: Banned from Distribution

Hey Readers,

If you’ve been keeping up with our posts, I’m sure you’ve noticed that we started out our business distributing with IngramSpark. IngramSpark is a self-publishing service that gets you access to the Ingram Content Database which makes your books available to libraries and bookstores. It’s fairly inexpensive and is an easy way to “go wide” with distribution.

In an unexpected twist, though, our book I Pooped and It Was Amazing can no longer be distributed through IngramSpark. No refunds. No appeals.

Their decision is final.

A New Distribution Strategy

More detail will come in our regular series of posts throughout March and April, but (Spoiler Alert) the TL;DR is this: we decided to move our hardcovers away from IngramSpark due to quality concerns from their printer LightningSource. The other posts try to dance around this and play nice but since IngramSpark is very concerned with the quality of their catalog, maybe someone should tell them that their hardcover books aren’t very good. They aren’t bound well and pages often fall out. The colors are muted or inconsistent, and the paper is thin and cheap-feeling. It’s not a level of quality consistent with a premium product.

We’ve found a much better printer and, because of how this industry works, we will be selling those hardcovers direct from our shop and they will most likely not be available anywhere else.

So What’s the Problem?

Maybe you were wondering, “So it sounds like you were moving away from Ingram anyways, so why is this a problem?” One answer is – none of the reasons provided made sense to us.

We asked for clarification on the issue with our title.

This response was interesting.

Our book is considered repetitive. Mass-produced. Not worthy of the IngramSpark quality catalog.

But we couldn’t help wondering: What exactly does “repetitive/mass-produced” mean? If we were to publish a vampire novel, would that be repetitive? What about a fantasy epic about fairies and wizards? What about a serial killer horror novel?

We’re avid readers and we’ve read our fair share of genre books. John, in particular, is a big fan of a good sci-fi western. Kate loves Whodunits. But no matter what you’re reading, you’re going to find tropes, clichés, and repetition. The trick is putting your own spin on the same story.

In our particular case, we wrote an original, humorous book about a basic function, then created original art to accompany it. It could almost be classified as inspirational, if we do say so ourselves. How does any of this violate Ingram’s clause against distributing “repetitive/mass-produced” works?

We asked:

And they were kind enough to respond:

Ouch. Our book is not quality content.

Going Forward

We would prefer not to do any business with IngramSpark going forward but our existing softcovers that are already being distributed with them will unfortunately have to stay there. We can’t take a chance on losing another ISBN. Once it’s in their database it can’t be removed. This happened to us once before and it’s an expensive mistake.

Now here’s the second answer to “Why is this a problem?”: IngramSpark can take your money and then refuse to distribute the product. It costs $50 to upload your book but if they feel your book violates their policy, they’ll keep that money and refuse to provide their service. If you’re lucky you’ll get a reason why, but you definitely won’t receive a refund.

Their decision is final.

Thanks for stopping by and your continued support! Don’t forget to follow us here, on Facebook, or LinkedIn and we’ll tell you when our hardcovers are back in stock! (Tentatively scheduled for the end of March.)


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