Ingram charges all on-demand publishers an annual storage fee for every book title they publish and distribute through Ingram. All publishers pass this cost to their authors. Many publishers, including Outskirts Press, are up-front about this fee by referencing it in their contract and stating the amount of the annual fee on their website. Other publishers choose to be more subversive by calling the fee something else, or paying substantially lower royalties to off-set the cost, or by requiring their authors to sell a certain number of books each month to avoid contract termination. If you look around at other publishers, the most common descriptions for this fee are maintenance fee, storage fee, hosting fee, or distribution fee, although keep in mind that some publishers don’t tell you about this fee until after they have published your book.
Interestingly, even though the fee all publishers pay Ingram is relatively consistent, the fees the publishers charge their authors are all over the board. For example, most POD publishers charge anywhere from $25-$99 for “maintenance fees” or “storage fees” or “distribution fees” or “hosting fees.” Some publishers don’t charge an fee directly but instead pay substantially lower royalties (usually 20% – 50%), charge substantially higher author copy prices, or require the author to sell a certain amount of books each year or risk termination. In other words, those publishers are all getting the distribution fee somewhere.
Outskirts Press is always up-front about its fees, and charges all authors the annual distribution fee equally. We prefer to pay 100% author royalties to our authors, which rewards the authors who are selling well, rather than punishing them by asking them to subsidize others. And since we want ALL our authors to sell a lot of books and be successful, this works out best.
Outskirts Press bills our authors their annual fee in January, regardless of when their book is published. In other words, we bill at the start of the first full calendar year of publication. Other publishers may do it differently. The only exception to this is for books that are published at the end of the calendar year. In those cases, since the book is published so close to the annual fee due date, we cover that cost as a courtesy for those authors.
If your annual book distribution fee is not added automatically to your Publishing Center account in January, it means your publication date earned the exception. Typically, only books published in the last 30 days of the year qualify for the exception. Otherwise, if the storage fee was added to your account, that fee is due on or before January 31. You can pay securely and conveniently online with a credit card by logging-in to your Publishing Center and visiting your Shopping Cart.
The fee is assessed for each hard copy format (paperback and hardback) of a published title. Since each format is made available worldwide separately via Ingram, each format is charged its own book distribution fee. So, for instance, if you have one paperback format for your book, the fee will be $25/year (regardless of how many actual copies you sell – yes, this fee stays the same even if you sell thousands of copies). If you have one paperback and one hardback of the same book, the fee will be $50. If you have two different paperback format of two different titles, the fee will be $50 ($25 for each format), and so forth. This fee-per-format is the same, regardless of whether you sell 100 books via wholesalers or 10,000. It is charged per title, not per copy.
WHAT DOES THIS ANNUAL BOOK DISTRIBUTION FEE PAY FOR?
This fee covers wholesale digital distribution and on-demand availability for hard copy printing, which is what allows your book to be listed on major online retail sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as being accessible via iPage (Ingram’s Ordering Database), and Ingram Book Wholesalers. It is also what allows your book to be printed on-demand when requested by you through your Publisher’s Center.