In mid-February 2016, IBPA member Lynn Fred Clark of SOS Programs & Parents Press in Bowling Green, KY emailed a question to Angela Bole, IBPA’s CEO, about Ingram’s required 60% discount for publishers. The exchange includes a helpful Q&A that Lynn suggested other IBPA members might appreciate. Our thanks to Lynn for allowing us to reprint his emails below. As always, we invite your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.
From: Lynn Fred Clark
To: Angela Bole
Subject: Ingram’s Required 60% Discounts for Publishers
Hello Ms. Bole,
Thank you for your work for IBPA. I am a member of IBPA and have a question for you. As you work with the publishing industry, have you learned that 60% discount is the minimum accepted by Ingram? Do you know of any publishers who insisted on a lower discount, such as a 55% discount.
We get orders from Ingram for about 150 to 200 books each month. Ingram receives a 60% discount and we pay shipping. Also, we pay shipping on returned books. Our returned books are approaching 20% of ordered books. Often, the very day we receive returned books, we receive quantity orders for the same title that was just returned to us. Often, the returned books are carelessly packed and are returned damaged.
IBPA had a great article on Amazon entitled, “Because I Said So!” I would like to suggest more articles on Ingram and Amazon. They are major outlets for us and for most publishers. Most publishers would appreciate learning more from IBPA about these two companies and what might be happening in the future. Maybe a series of articles entitled “Ingram and Amazon.”
Again, thank you for your work for IBPA. I look forward to hearing from you.
Lynn Fred Clark, PhD
SOS Programs and Parents Press
From: Angela Bole [firstname.lastname@example.org]
To: Lynn Fred Clark
Subject: Re: Ingram’s Required 60% Discounts for Publishers
Thanks for your message. I’m glad you reached out.
Yes, a 60% discount isn’t unheard of. Although, some would say 55% is a standard wholesale discount for publishers with an established track record of sales. Are you part of Ingram’s distribution arm, Ingram Publisher Services? If so, you might be able to negotiate a lower discount with time, but nothing is guaranteed.
On the returns side, 25-30% is industry average so at 20% you’re at the low end here. Curt Matthews, the previous CEO of Independent Publishers Group (a small press distributor), used to say that if his returns weren’t high enough, he was concerned he didn’t have enough product in the marketplace. His returns at the time were in the high teens. That said, IPG is an established distributor with great books backed by some amount of marketing. Publishers not able to back up their books are sure to experience higher return rates.
That’s the state of the industry at this time, I’m afraid. Returns are a big frustration, of course, and many publishers experience what you say – returned books on the same day more books are ordered. Ugly, yes.
I like the idea of more articles on Ingram and Amazon and will let the IBPA Independent editors, know. Thank you for the suggestion.
Please let me know if you have further questions or if there’s anything else you think IBPA can do. We’re happy to help.
Chief Executive Officer
Independent Book Publishers Association
1020 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite 204
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
From: Lynn Fred Clark
To: Angela Bole
Subject: RE: Ingram’s Required 60% Discounts for Publishers
Thank you for your reply with the valuable information. I am sure that members of IBPA and readers of the Independent are interested in more practical articles on Amazon and Ingram in the Independent. I think that your readers would be interested in reading our two emails. You have my permission to print my email.
Best wishes and thanks again. Lynn