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Publishing Books

Print on Demand

You’ve created your PDF file, uploaded into both KDP (Amazon.com) and Ingram, your book has been approved for inclusion on the Amazon.com store and for indie bookstores to order for their shelves. Yay, you have a physical book others can buy and indie bookstores can stock. While each service uses Print On Demand (POD) printers, it’s important to know that — the physical books are not the same.

As an author, you need to be on both platforms, but it’s also important to know that your “book” will be slightly different on each even though both are Print on Demand.

Here are the visible differences on each platform.

Comparing spines and book thickness from KDP and Ingram for Print on Demand
Comparing book thickness and bindery on the same POD-produced book from KDP (left) and Ingram (right.)
KDP vs Ingram
  • Paper: The paper on KDP is heavier than Ingram, resulting in a thicker book, larger spine and slightly more opaque page. It’s important to note that neither KDP nor Ingram bleed through.
  • Binding: The binding on KDP is “looser” than Ingram and the glue appears to be less secure.
  • Ink: The black ink on KDP for the type appears to be slightly less dense than Ingram. Neither KDP nor Ingram releases the lpi (lines per inch) specs on the inside pages, so it’s hard to gauge for certain. However, in comparison using a loupe glass, the “wings” and “tails” of serif type appear to be more pronounced on Ingram whereas they “disappear” on KDP.
  • Register: The register on the KDP color cover is less accurate and the dot gain appears to be slightly larger than Ingram. Ingram also appears to have a higher saturation of magenta, so your colors will appear more reddish.
  • Trim: The “travel” or the placement of the content within the trim space on KDP appears to be looser, resulting in a header or footer line that appears higher or lower on the page than normal. This might be because the KDP press more than likely runs at a higher rate than Ingram because of the volume. I am merely speculating on this.
  • Shipping: Shipping from KDP is usually next day or better if you have Prime. Shipping from Ingram takes a few days or more.
Our advice:

Work with a hybrid publisher like Sharktooth Press who understands the technical differences and can make your output files so they work optimally on each platform. When given a choice as to which book a reader can order, guide them to a platform like Bookshop.org that sources your book from the Ingram POD. Ingram books are more shelf-ready quality because their end target market is the indie bookstores.