Print-on-demand (POD) is a great resource for publishers of all sizes, but it’s only as good as its nearest localized print and distribution partner.

While a POD book can, in theory, be sent anywhere in the world once ordered and paid for, the reality is that the shipping costs and shipping time act as a deterrent to would be buyers worldwide.

For Amazon’s KDP Print operation (formerly CreateSpace), having print bases in the US and EU has helped make paperbacks a viable revenues stream for indie authors and small presses, but orders outside those countries are shipped from the US at US prices and in US currency, ratcheting up the final price. And not all vendors offer worldwide shipping.

This is where IngramSpark can increase author and publisher reach, although Ingram’s POD base still has a long way to go to be meaningfully global. More on that below.

Last week Amazon quietly announced on its KDP Support Page that it now offers printing directly in Canada.

What it means for indie authors is:

Faster shipping to readers in Canada. Manufacturing in Canada enables FREE Two-Day Shipping for Prime Members
• Amazon Canada royalty reporting in the KDP reports. Previously Canadian sales (and other overseas sales except EU) were included in US sales
• Canadian Dollar (CAD) list prices. N.B. Authors will need to go to the dashboard to set Canada list prices or they will be adjusted automatically based on currency exchange rates, which would look messy

Amazon confirm that proof copies and author orders for authors in Canada will still be printed and shipped from the US.

This is a big step forward for authors, and likely to boost indie paperback sales in Canada, but that still leaves most of the world without meaningful access to Amazon’s POD operation.

Hoping Ingram’s LightningSpark will pick up the slack is a road to disappointment. Ingram has printers in the US, UK, Australia and France.

In any case Ingram at this point isn’t that interested in indie authors. Despite a lot of promotional stuff on the IngramSpark website aimed at self-publishers, Ingram continues to demand a $49 set-up fee for each POD title, and $25 for an ebook. Amazon charges nothing.

Hardly surprising then that the most recent Bowker figures for ISBNs show a massive jump in Amazon ISBNs for its paperback publishers, following its transition from CreateSpace to KDP Print, while Ingram remains a back-up option for indies.

Globally POD operations are proliferating rapidly, but while most in theory offer single copy printing, few are structured to be able to deal with indie authors or offer meaningful global shipping.

That’s the big challenge – and the big opportunity – for self-publishers as we head into the new decade.