When I started in the book business 33 years ago, Print-to-Order (PTO) and the independent and self-publishing market that grew with it had just passed its tenth birthday. By 2021, approximately 2.3 million new books were independently published in the US alone (tonerbuzz).
The Library of Congress states in their collection development policy that “Self-publishing is an important outlet for the stories of ordinary people and reflects the voices of these multiple cultures, struggles, and experiences. Self-published books can be excellent primary source material. Self-publishing is also a significant mode used by independent authors and scholars, organizations, clubs, societies, and other groups. Self-publishing provides a valuable and often irreplaceable window into political, social, and economic movements and into popular culture.”
IngramSpark (self-publishing platform) and Ingram Lightning Source (PTO facilities) serve an important role in independent publishing, and Ingram Library Services partners with them to provide titles that libraries need for their communities.
Large print titles help library patrons with vision struggles read more comfortably. In addition, some readers with reading disabilities read more accurately with a larger print size, especially if they have poor binocular control (National Library of Medicine). Most publishers do not make all their titles available in large print because of the price and risk of not selling through inventory—libraries are the biggest market for large print titles.
Penguin Random House is the first publisher to sign on with Ingram Lightning Source to provide the titles that they are not publishing through their large print imprint as a PTO option. This will make a new group of titles available in large print to libraries while not creating the waste of overstock—good for our communities and for the environment. The first set of titles loaded in September, including The Caretaker by Ron Rash, The Enchanters by James Ellroy, and We Should Not Be Friends by Will Schwalbe. Check out all our hand-curated large print lists on ipage.
Indie titles fill in important gaps in the collection—urban fiction, for example, relies on self-published and indie publishers working through companies like IngramSpark. The challenge remains however, to find quality titles that will be popular. Some titles are getting reviewed in professional journals, but only a small fraction of what turns out to be popular.
With BookTok and Instagram influencers getting attention in channels that didn’t exist in the past, trying to find the popular titles is difficult. IngramSpark monitors online and retail sales very closely to see which book is about to pop.
To help libraries find these titles, we have added two Standing Order Program offerings to the Awards*Notables program: *New Indie Picks Adult Fiction and *New Indie Picks Adult Nonfiction. Customers can opt for a handpicked selection of exclusive and curated content from indie authors and publishers, available only through Ingram. The first monthly program run will be November 15th and will include titles such as ‘Tis the Damn Season, Blood to Rubies, and the useful Diary of a Human Lie Detector: Facial Expressions in Love, Lust, and Lies. For help enrolling, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lightning Source also prints titles for traditional publishers. Lightning Source Sharjah, the print-to-order joint venture between Ingram’s Lightning Source and the Sharjah Book Authority, is making more books accessible in the Arabic language and changing the way books are distributed in the Middle East.
Arab Scientific Publishing, a publisher client of Lightning Source Sharjah, has acquired the translation rights to several of the world's leading bestselling titles including books by Dan Brown, John Grisham (coming soon), Suzanne Collins (coming soon), and many more. These titles, along with nearly ten thousand titles from other publishers, are now available globally through Ingram in Arabic, while also being supplied locally to booksellers in the Middle East. Titles also include Diary of a Wimpy Kid, To Kill a Mockingbird (coming soon), Green Mile, and more. “The value of what we offer presents, for the first time, global bestselling titles over the past thirty years and makes them all accessible to the Arab reading world,” says Mr. Bassam Chebaro, President of Arabic Scientific Publishing.