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A Review of Ingram Spark

by Theresa M. Moore

First of all I did not want to write something like this, but recent events have forced my hand. I have been using Ingram Spark as my printer and distributor since 2008, when I moved there after my old distributor, Lightning Source, decided that authors with less than 30 books were too small to deal with. At first, everything seemed hunky dory. Ingram Spark appeared to be both efficient and fast, when I had only 7 books to publish. I worked with them to build a decent catalog, which you see on this site. Then one day they got slower and difficult to communicate with. You see, it's the communication problems which I am speaking of.
     When I got up to my 12th book, suddenly there were missing shipments, then shipments of proof copies which showed serious register issues. I tried to work with them.
     Then, just this April, I decided to liberate some of my books from a series, which I felt would have been misleading to readers. The books could stand on their own because they were not a continuous story. I reset the files to reflect that they were free and I removed any mention of a series from their listings on Bowker for Books In Print. I thought that would solve the problem.
     Having done that, I uploaded the new files to Ingram Spark and changed their prices. They were to become stand alone novels on their own. I thought this would go smoothly. Lo and behold, in July I checked on the status of the books and saw that all but one had been posted on Amazon without the series name. I contacted Amazon through Author Central and told them that the book should not have a series name after its title anymore.
     Amazon replied using their do-not-reply form that I should contact my distributor to update their catalog feed, which I did. A day or two later, nothing happened. This is a situation where a line of code should have been removed, and it should have taken less than five minutes. Nothing had happened.
     I contacted Ingram again, and received a ticket to address the issue. Nothing. No updates, no nothing. I checked my catalog listings on Amazon and saw that nothing had changed.
     I contacted Amazon again, and a tech called me back from Author Central telling me that I could change the title myself. Of course I could not. My pages only allow me to change the description of a book, and leave notes which show up on the page, but not the title. At all. I said that I tried it and he kept telling me I could. He also wanted me to drop everything I was doing and get on my computer to do it. I was far away from my computer, so naturally I could not, and I told him so. He was not going to do it himself, so we hung up having not resolved the problem.
     Finally, I got on with the Better Business Bureau and filed a complaint about Amazon. In the back and forth discussion of the situation, I had to call Ingram Spark, only to learn that their phone system was jammed with calls, so I waited on hold for 20 minutes until a recorded voice told me to hang up and call back later. I added this experience to my existing complaint with the BBB.
     Finally, I found a chat bubble on the Ingram Spark site and the tech was more forthcoming. He said he would expedite things from there. What a lie. Not only did nothing happen, I got voicemails from Amazon which contained no information. I was expected by everyone to call back. They could have better communicated by email, which I said I would accept in the complaint in the first place. Then I got a call from Amazon telling me that the rest of the books in the series should not have had the titles changed, and that I should change them on Amazon Advantage or Creatspace, one of their own publishers. Well, I don't use Amazon Advantage or Createspace and told her so. It was a very disappointing phone call. Then I relayed all this information and emails to BBB., which sat on them until I got an email from them that the case was closed for "lack of communication".
     By now, I was extremely agitated by this. I contacted Ingram Spark again though chat and told them that they failed to do anything they were supposed to. A tech got on with me and issued me another ticket, saying that he would elevate the issue to the second tier (I presumed that they would do what I asked them to do.) I gave him the titles and ISBNs of all the books which were affected. I signed off with him thinking that everything would be fixed.
     Well, it was not. On Sunday, I received an email from another tech saying that Amazon said that the books should be part of the series I DISCONTINUED MONTHS AGO.
     That very day, I went on to send an email detailing the problem to a publishing lawyer, then filed a complaint against Ingram Spark. Then I did some research and found many other complaints, including by those who stopped using IS; detailing situations like lost shipments, failure to communicate, and slow to nonexistent service. After having read these along with pages about how good or bad they were, I contacted Ingram's Legal Department and told them what was happening.
     You may notice that I have removed any mention of Amazon apart from what is necessary to outline the problem. That is all I am going to do for the moment. I removed all the book links, since Amazon has failed to sell any of my books, and am waiting for a reply from the lawyer or Ingram Legal telling me that they will do as I say. After all, who is the publisher here, me or Amazon? I have spent thousands of dollars on Ingram Spark only to be pushed aside from lack of respect. They will comply, or there will be hell to pay. ♦

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