Are you planning to self-publish your books on Amazon’s Kindle Distribution KDP? If so, you have good reason. Amazon is the leading book distributor in the United States and in many countries around the world.
But why would you limit yourself to a U.S. book distributor? And why only self-publish with one book distributor when there are so many?
The other places to self-publish
While Amazon may be the number one book distributor in the U.S., it is not the first choice in many countries. In fact, while Amazon may be the leader in ebooks sold, Apple products lead Amazon for device sales. That’s right; more iPhones and iPads are sold throughout the world than Kindle devices. So, let’s add Apple iBooks Store to the list of must-have book distributors. In fact, there are 3 more reasons to publish on iBooks here.
While sales of Nook readers have plummeted over the last few years, there are still some devoted Nook users out there. Like iBooks, Nook uses an EPUB file, so as long as you’re creating an EPUB, you may as well self-publish to Nook Books.
In 2140, Kobo took over Sony’s ebook division, so the already strong Kobo reader and bookstore picked up a host of Sony readers. In some English-speaking countries, Kobo outranks Amazon as a choice for reading devices. Kobo also has a very user-friendly self-publishing platform.
While Scribd follows a different book distributor strategy than Amazon, Apple, Nook and Kobo, it is becoming an import platform to self-publish. The site offers subscriptions and read-online options, and Alexa shows the monthly traffic to the site is significant.
There are a number of platforms that will distribute your book to all of the above and add some other lesser-known distribution points. These are called aggregators. You may have heard of Smashwords, the largest and most well-known aggregator. Smashwords has forged relationships with many online distributors, including Apple iBooks, Nook and Scribd. They’re making a name for themselves as the one-stop place to self-publish. There are others, such as Gatekeeper Press, Lulu and Bookbaby.
While all of the above book distributors are solely for ebooks, Createspace, owned by Amazon, is one of the most popular print on demand options for authors who want to self-publish paperback copies of their books. Createspace is the printing platform of choice for many self-published authors. Createspace distributes the books through Amazon’s online bookstore.
If you’ve never heard of Ingram, it’s a sure sign you’re new to publishing. For print and ebooks, traditional and indie publishing, Ingram is the world’s largest distributor of books. In 2o13 Ingram opened IngramSpark to self-publishers, indie publishers and small presses, and they claim even traditional publishers are using their services. In fact, Ingram’s print on demand service prints some of the books ordered through Createspace. The IngramSpark platform allows authors who self-publish and traditional publishers to distribute print and ebooks through their worldwide, massive channels.
There are many online bookstores around the world that sell print and ebooks. Typically, the only way to get into these stores is to go through a distributor such as Smashwords, Amazon’s expanded distribution, or Ingram. These distributors have relationships with various online bookstores who take orders, but then source the books from one of these intermediary distributors.
Which Book Distributors should I Use?
The simple answer is that you can choose to use aggregators or handle all accounts individually to self-publish your books. The advantage of aggregators is that you upload your books in one place and don’t have to worry about uploading to every Nook and cranny–pun intended. You also get paid in one place.
The disadvantage is that you won’t see detailed reports of where the books you self-publish are selling. You also have less control over things such as price changes and promotions within individual stores.
Typically, you also get a lower royalty by going through an aggregator. Everyone takes their cut, including the aggregator and final distributor. For example, as of this writing, I receive a 7o percent royalty through iBooks. If I self-publish the same book through Smashwords, they distribute it to iBooks, but I only get a 6o percent royalty. Gatekeeper Press is one aggregator I have found that lets you keep 100% of your royalties when you use their other services.
You must research all of the options, read the contracts for each carefully, and decide which distributors are best suited for you, based on your publishing goals and how much time you want to spend with distribution.
Download this FREE PDF “eBook Aggregators.” The PDF includes an explanation of what aggregators do, advantages and disadvantages, as well as a table of the major distributors they work with. I also included a link to my favorite aggregator. Secret: This one lets you keep 100% of your royalties!