POD SECRETS REVEALED: How Much Do Some POD Publishers Profit from Ingram’s “Channel Distribution” Fees? Plenty! By Angela Hoy

Previous installments of this series can be found HERE.

POD Publishers that use Ingram’s printing division to print their books incur an annual fee, which is charged by Ingram for each title/ISBN. Ingram calls this their “Catalog Fee.” It provides: “Access to our worldwide distribution channels (the largest portfolio of wholesalers, distributors and booksellers worldwide).” Basically, this means they send out an automated feed to bookstores that includes all the available titles. It typically costs publishers $12 per year to keep a book in Ingram’s system.

Publishers of 500-999 active titles receive a 20% discount off that fee. The cost for them is $9.60 per title per year.

Publishers of 1,000-4,999 active titles receive a 35% discount off that fee. The cost for them is $7.80 per title per year.

Publishers of 5,000+ active titles receive a 50% discount off that fee. The cost for them is $6.00 per title per year. Many of the larger firms listed below qualify for this 50% discount.

Most POD publishers pass this fee onto their authors under a variety of different names. While it’s common to mark up a fee a small bit for several reasons (administrative costs, their own file hosting expenses, etc.), some POD publishers take “marking up” to a whole new level.

Other publishers simply build several years’ worth of Ingram’s channel distribution fees into their up-front setup charges, which forces each author to pay that fee, whether they want to or not, at an amount that would have carried their book in Ingram’s system for years – even after they terminate their contract.

At BookLocker, we, too, have our books listed with Ingram and, thus, in the online bookstores so I can tell you how this works. We recently dropped our fee to $15 per year and we call it a “POD file hosting fee” because it covers not only Ingram’s service of hosting a book in their system but also our expenses for hosting files on our servers, making minor book page changes/author updates, administrative fees, etc. When an author has sufficient royalties in their account, we simply deduct the annual fee from those. Each BookLocker author has 24-hour-per-day online access to their author account to monitor royalties.

To be frank, these fees are a huge hassle. I wish they didn’t exist at all. Sending out monthly notices to authors, sending out follow-up notices, tracking who has paid what and when, etc. is a pain in the you-know-what. We have asked Ingram several times over the years to stop charging the fee because it’s so much trouble. However, with millions of books in their system, it’s easy to see why they won’t do so.

Here’s what firms are charging for this fee –

ABUZZ PRESS (owned by BookLocker.com)
Annual fee: ZERO
Setup fees: ZERO
(Yes, it’s free but it publishes a limited number of books per year.)

“Annual POD file hosting fee” (Print only. Does not charge any annual fees for ebooks.)
Setup fees: Only $475 (includes the first year annual fee above). Add $200 if you also need original cover design. In addition, BookLocker offers a D.I.Y. option.

IUNIVERSE – $25.00
“Title Maintenance”
Setup fees: $1,993

“Annual Storage Fee”
Setup fees: $1,926.00 – Their cheapest package that offers full distribution + other options comparable to competing publisher packages listed here. (See details at the end of this article.)

INFINITY – $249 extra to get into Ingram’s system; no annual fee. (Based on Ingram’s most expensive annual fee of $12/year, that means you’re paying what would be the equivalent of 20+ years up front.)
“Extended Distribution”
Setup fees: $1,047.00 – Their cheapest package that offers full distribution + other options comparable to competing publisher packages listed here. Price includes extended distribution above.

TRAFFORD – Included in their enormous setup fees.
“Worldwide Book Distribution” – Don’t be fooled. This does NOT mean physical bookstores are going to stock your book!
Setup fees: $1,424.00

CREATESPACE – Included in their fees, and only four book sizes on creme paper are eligible.
“Expanded Distribution”
Setup fees: $1,486.00

LULU – No annual fee but they’re sticking it to you up front by charging way too much for services similar to others featured here.
“Global Reach”
Setup fees: $1,536.00

AUTHORHOUSE – Included in their enormous setup fees.
“Channel Access Fee”
Setup fees: $1,993.00
They used to charge a $20 annual “channel access fee” but the fee is now included in their high setup fees. (Of course, those fees have gone up over the years, too.) Like Xlibris below, the AuthorHouse contract states, “PROVIDER has the right to charge an annual title maintenance fee for each.” We can’t find that amount anywhere on their website.

XLIBRIS – These guys also charge WAY too much money up front.
“Worldwide Distribution and Online Listing”
Setup fees: $2,621.00
Like AuthorHouse above, their contract also states, “Xlibris reserves the right to charge an annual fee for online distribution.” We can’t find that amount anywhere on their website, either.

See details about the fees charged by most of these firms in the POD Price Comparison HERE.

***Prices above are based on the least expensive package offered by each publisher on similar offers targeting U.S. authors. Fees include black-and-white-interior print formatting (based on a 200-page book) with up to 25 interior photos/graphics, original color cover design with up to 5 images (some above charge extra for more than one image), print proof, basic ebook formatting and distribution to the top four ebook retailers (some have distribution limitations above, and may charge more for ebooks with complex formatting), an ISBN for all editions, barcode, a listing on the publisher’s website, distribution by Ingram, and feedback on your cover if submitting your own (some above don’t offer this, or don’t give you a discount if you are submitting your own cover), all within 6 weeks.

NOTE: Many companies offer perks that others don’t and some try to upsell authors on extraneous services. Study each publisher and contract carefully before making your choice.