PublishDrive Vs. IngramSpark: Which Is Better For Self-Publishing?

For indie authors, getting your book distributed through major retailers is crucial for sales. Two popular print-on-demand distribution services are PublishDrive and IngramSpark.

But how do you decide which is better suited for your self-publishing needs? This in-depth comparison examines the key differences between PublishDrive and IngramSpark across factors like accessibility, reach, costs and more.

A Brief Comparison Table

Distribution ReachAmazon, B&N, Apple Books, librariesWidest reach including bookstores
Platform FeaturesBasic publishing toolsRobust sales and marketing features
PricingFree distribution, 30% commission$49 setup fee, 40-60% commission
AccessibilityEasy for new self-publishersExtensive approval process
Author ProtectionsFlexible rights controlLoss of print rights control
Best ForNew indie authors, ebook distributionExpanded print reach, marketing tools

Overview of PublishDrive and IngramSpark


PublishDrive is a self-publishing aggregator platform that distributes books to major retailers and libraries.

It offers tools to publish and manage books in one dashboard. PublishDrive simplifies the publishing process for indie authors.

IngramSpark is the print-on-demand service owned by book distributor giant Ingram. It prints and distributes paperback, hardcover and ebook editions globally.

IngramSpark reaches major retailers that indie authors struggle to access alone.

Also Read: Comparison Between Lillypost And Bookroo

Key Differences Between PublishDrive And IngramSpark

Both PublishDrive and IngramSpark are powerful platforms for self-published authors. While PublishDrive offers a beginner-friendly approach with more flexibility in terms of rights, IngramSpark boasts a wider distribution reach, especially in physical bookstores. The choice between the two often boils down to an author’s specific needs and preferences.

1. Distribution Reach and Retailers:

PublishDrive Distribution:
PublishDrive provides a broad spectrum of distribution channels. This includes giants like Amazon (for both Kindle ebooks and paperbacks) and Barnes & Noble (covering Nook ebooks and paperbacks).

Authors can also tap into Apple Books, get their work into public libraries via OverDrive, and even reach out to smaller regional retailers.

This expansive distribution means that your book has a chance to reach a wide variety of readers across multiple platforms.

IngramSpark Distribution:
IngramSpark, on the other hand, offers an even wider reach. In addition to covering the major platforms like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books, they also have a strong presence in global physical bookstores such as Indigo and Waterstones.

Their extensive library distribution can be a major boon for authors wanting to tap into academic and public library markets. Furthermore, the option to promote on Ingram catalogs can provide additional visibility to your titles.

2. Self-Publishing Platform Features:


PublishDrive Features:
PublishDrive streamlines the self-publishing process with tools like title setup guidance, ebook conversion, and the provision of ISBNs and barcodes.

Their dashboard offers transparent sales and royalty reporting. They also support promotions management and handle basic revisions, making it relatively hassle-free for authors to update and promote their work.

IngramSpark Features:
IngramSpark’s platform is robust, offering a suite of tools tailored to the professional self-publisher. They not only assist with title setup but also enhance metadata for better discoverability.

Their global distribution tools, detailed sales reporting, and revisions submission & tracking mechanisms ensure that authors have a comprehensive view of their publishing journey.

Moreover, with tools like Spark Advantage, marketing efforts can be optimized for better results.

3. Pricing and Costs:

PublishDrive Pricing:
PublishDrive offers a cost-effective start by allowing authors to submit and distribute their books to major retailers for free.

However, they take a 30% commission on net sales. For authors who require revisions to their paperbacks, there’s a fee of $29 per revision.

IngramSpark Fees:
IngramSpark requires an initial setup fee of $49 per title. They have a sliding commission scale based on the type of sale: 60% or 55% on print book sales and 40% for ebook sales.

Their revision fee for paperbacks is slightly lower than PublishDrive at $25.

4. Accessibility for Indie Authors:

PublishDrive Accessibility:
PublishDrive is designed to be user-friendly, especially for indie authors who are new to the world of self-publishing.

Their platform has a streamlined title setup and distribution process, making it easier to navigate. The dashboard is intuitive and meets the basic publishing needs of most authors.

Watch this review video:

IngramSpark Accessibility:
IngramSpark caters to a more professional demographic. Their platform has an extensive approval process and might require a bit of a learning curve to navigate all its features.

While this might be advantageous for established publishers and authors, newbies might find it a tad overwhelming.

5. Author Protections:

PublishDrive Protections:
PublishDrive is quite flexible when it comes to author rights. Authors retain their rights and can withdraw their books from distribution whenever they wish.

Additionally, books are distributed non-exclusively, ensuring that authors have the freedom to explore other platforms as well.

IngramSpark Protections:
IngramSpark has a more structured approach. Their contracts can be more rigid, especially concerning print rights.

Once a book is distributed through IngramSpark, it remains in their catalog indefinitely, which might be a concern for authors who like to have more control over their work’s distribution.

Also Read: Comparison Between Modalyst And Printful.

Pros and Cons Comparison

Pros:- Simple dashboard for publishing basics- Free distribution to major retailers – Low 30% retail commission- Cheap $29 revision fee- Easy access for new indie authorsPros: – Widest distribution reach including bookstores- Robust title setup and sales reporting tools – Powerful marketing options- Global print book distribution- Credibility of Ingram name
Cons: – Less extensive distribution reach- Limited sales data and marketing – Less suitable for established authors- No control of print rights once publishedCons: – High setup fees per title- 40-60% sales commissions- Extensive application process for access- Loss of print rights control – Books stay “in print” indefinitely

Best For…


  • New self-published and indie authors
  • Those focused just on ebook distribution
  • Basic publishing needs on a budget
  • Maximum flexibility maintaining rights


  • Established authors ready to grow audience
  • Print book distribution through bookstores
  • Robust sales data and marketing tools
  • Highest credibility and prestige for self-publishing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does PublishDrive work?

PublishDrive allows you to easily upload a completed book manuscript, add metadata like title information, and convert files to ebook formats. PublishDrive will generate a cover, ISBNs, and barcode then distribute the ebook and paperback to Amazon, Apple Books, B&N and other retailers. Authors earn royalties on sales.

Do you need a publishing company to use IngramSpark?

No, you do not need a formal publishing company to use IngramSpark. It is designed as a self-publishing service for independent authors. However, IngramSpark does have an extensive approval process to get setup that may deter casual self-publishers.

How long does it take for IngramSpark to approve a book?

The standard turnaround time for IngramSpark to review and approve a book for distribution is 5-7 business days. However, at busy times this can take up to 3 weeks. Their approval queue and process is more stringent than other print-on-demand platforms.

Can you publish public domain books on IngramSpark?

No, publishing public domain book content that is freely available would violate IngramSpark’s policies. To publish through their service, you need to have full rights to the book content you are distributing, unless explicitly allowed under fair use doctrine.

The Bottom Line

For easy access and simple self-publishing, PublishDrive excels at distributing ebooks on a budget. For expansive print distribution and serious author tools, IngramSpark provides industry-leading reach. Consider your current needs as an author and priorities like rights control to pick the best solution.

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