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Figuring It Out: POD Book Cost & Net Profit Comparisons

Are you curious about POD book cost versus how much you can expect to make on each you sell? Are you with CreateSpace or IngramSpark and wonder what the profit is on each book? Do you see sales happening and yet your bank account is not growing? Let’s look at the dollars and cents of self-publishing. We… [Read More]

POD book cost & net profit comparisons by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

Are you curious about POD book cost versus how much you can expect to make on each you sell? Are you with CreateSpace or IngramSpark and wonder what the profit is on each book? Do you see sales happening and yet your bank account is not growing? Let’s look at the dollars and cents of self-publishing.

We will start by using a 204-page paperback book with a $16.99 retail price point as an example.

POD Book Cost for IngramSpark & CreateSpacePOD book cost & net profit comparisons by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

At IngramSpark, a 204 page POD paperback book costs $4.98 to print. (.02 a page plus .90 for the cover)

At CreateSpace, that same POD book cost is $4.45 to print.

What happens next is...

IngramSpark sells books to the bookstore and library market through their sister company, Ingram Wholesale.

Ingram will purchase the book from Ingram Spark at 55% discount off of the retail price. That will leave you $7.65

IngramSpark will take the $4.98 out of that total due for the printing and send you $2.67.

Ingram will then take the book that they bought from you (through IngramSpark) and sell it to Amazon, bookstores, and libraries at a discount of anywhere from 20% – 42%

So, to recap:

Ingram Spark makes $4.98 for printing

Ingram Wholesalers make $2.21 – 5.95 but they have to pay for shipping and handling out of that as well as all of their business costs. You don’t have to pay for shipping the books to Ingram Wholesaler OR to the retailers who buy the books.

The bookstores and libraries make between $3.40 – $7.13 but they have to pay for employees, rent, lights and the rest out of that.

You make $2.67 profit on any book sold to libraries or bookstores that order from Ingram Wholesaler.

POD Book Cost for Amazon & CreateSpacePOD book cost & net profit comparisons by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

CreateSpace sells books to THEIR sister company, Amazon.com.

Amazon will purchase the book from CreateSpace at 40% discount off of the retail price. That will leave you $10.19.

CreateSpace will take the $4.45 out of that total due for the printing and send you $5.74.

Amazon will send the book to their customer and you don’t have to pay for shipping the book TO Amazon or FROM Amazon.

So, to recap:

CreateSpace makes $4.45 for printing.

Amazon makes $6.80, but they have to pay for shipping and handling out of that as well as all of their business costs.

You make $5.74 profit for any book sold to Amazon through CreateSpace.

What About "Net" Profits?POD book cost & net profit comparisons by Amy Collins for BookWorks.com

A number of authors have questioned why they only get to “net” $2 or less in some cases per POD book. I would argue that once the stores and wholesalers pay THEIR expenses, they make a LOT LESS than that. The net of profits after expenses is one that plagues businesses all over. The key is to keep your costs down and use the time and energy you do have, when you can, in place of direct expenses.

If you are looking for a good rule of thumb on profits this is what I use: If you are making 11% of the retail price as a net before taxes, you are in good shape! (Most established publishers would be thrilled with that.)


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7 thoughts on “Figuring It Out: POD Book Cost & Net Profit Comparisons”

  1. Many, many thanks for generating the numbers. I’d stress that most authors should distribute through both CreateSpace and Ingram. Quite a few bookstores won’t do business with CreateSpace because it is Amazon. Also, from what I can see, Ingram has arrangements with wholesalers in other countries and in some cases POD services, so your global distribution via Ingram will be better. Do both. The interior PDF can be the same and a cover design can easily be adapted for both. Go with the same book size and only difference is likely to be a slightly different spine width.
    —-
    One added suggestion. If for some reason (such as book reviews) you want to send copies of your book to distant countries, check out doing so by ordering it like a regular customer from The Book Depository (yes, owned by Amazon).

    You may say, “But I can get my books cheaper wholesale and direct from CreateSpace or IngramSpark. You can, but you’ll pay shipping twice: to you from them and then from you to overseas. The Book Depository can ship via the Royal Mail to a host of different countries at no added charge. The Book Depository will also handle all the details, including the customs declaration. Here is a list of the countries.

    https://www.bookdepository.com/help/topic/HelpId/3/Which-countries-do-you-deliver-to#helpContent

    Indeed, I have ordered from other bookstores in the UK and paid only $3.99 shipping. Compare that to the USPS, for which the cheapest cost to ship a book (up to four pounds, so that might be 2-3)) is First-Class Package International service, which is at least $21.63. Terrible!

    http://bookmooch.com/thread/discussion/649
    https://www.stamps.com/whitepapers/complete-guide-usps-international-shipping.pdf

    1. Amy Collins says:

      This advice is FANTASTIC!! I LOVE THIS IDEA!

  2. Hey there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to check it out.
    I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Outstanding blog and amazing style and design.

  3. So…I have all my 26 books with Create Space. But does this mean I could also be doing paperbacks at Ingram Spark as well?? Could I use the SAME cover for both paperbacks at both places? Thank you. Please respond to: Kathryn Meyer Griffith rdgriff@htc.net

    1. Amy Collins says:

      hi Kathryn, Yes, you can use your cover and interior design files for BOTH companies. Same ISBN and same files. I strongly suggest you use both. And I hope you used your OWN ISBNs.

      Amy

  4. Here’s the catch to those numbers.

    Ingram Sparks makes your book available to stores and libraries. Amazon/Create Space do not. Create Space used to claim library distribution, but they meant: “You convince the library to buy, we ship the book.”

    Many libraries won’t buy unless it’s from Ingram Spark.You still do the marketing, but you won’t have a librarian say, “What’s the Ingram Spark listing? No thanks.”

    So you make more per book from Create Space but sell to a much smaller audience.

    If you use a Create Space ISBN, they own it. Should you choose to move to Ingram Spark, you’re SOL.

    1. Amy Collins says:

      Exactly right! Great insight.

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