In some cases instead of publishing directly to an ebook store you might choose to publish via an ebook “aggregator”.
What is an Ebook Aggregator?
An ebook aggregator deals with ebook authors directly and interfaces between them and ebook retailers such as Apple and Sony.
The ebook aggregator may offer other services besides distribution, for example ebook design and formatting services.
Why Use an Ebook Aggregator?
Some of the valid reasons to use an ebook aggregator include:
- You are non-resident and haven’t yet acquired the various requirements (e.g. B&N requires you to have a U.S. bank account and U.S. Tax ID).
- You don’t have the hardware or software required to publish your ebook directly (e.g. Apple requires a Mac).
- You don’t know how to technically format the manuscript (e.g. to ensure your epub file passes validation checks).
The following quick comparison chart of ebook aggregators shows who they distribute to as well as their fees charged and royalties paid. To the best of my knowledge the information in this chart was correct in April 2013.
The chart may have “shrunk” to fit the width of your browser. If it’s small and blurry you can click on it to open it at full size in a new tab or window.
Please note the numbering here has been reorganized since earlier versions of this chart.
1. Smashwords and FastPencil also distribute to Diesel Ebooks. XinXii also distributes to Casa del Libro (Spain). BookBaby also distributes to Gardners (UK), Baker & Taylor, Copia and eBookPie, eSentral (Malaysia) and Scribd. EbookIt also distributes to Ingram.
2. ISBNs are required for distribution to Apple and Sony stores. Check terms and conditions carefully. Some ebook aggregators will offer you one of their ISBNs free and this usually identifies them as the publisher. They might also offer a paid option which identifies you as the publisher. Sometimes you can also “Bring Your Own” ISBN number.
3. Smashwords pays you a royalty of 60% of the retail price when your ebook sells at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony or Diesel stores. At Kobo the royalty is 60% of list for most sales but 38% of list for certain sales. For exceptions and further details see this page.
4. Some aggregators take a percentage of the net revenue paid by an ebook retailer. Example: at Apple the royalty paid on an ebook sale is 70%. EBookIt, an aggregator, keeps 15% of that, which is 10.5% of the retail price. This leaves a self-publishing author with 59.5% royalty on the retail price.
5. BookBaby charges $99 upfront if you supply the ePub file, or $149 if you don’t, in which case they convert your manuscript to ePub and Mobi formats. They also charge an ongoing annual fee of $19 for each book starting in the second year.
6. EBookit charges $149 including ebook conversion and distribution. As of 16 April 2013 there is no upfront charge for conversion to mobi and distribution if you provide your ebook in a valid ePub format.
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Gary McLaren is the author of “The Indie Author’s Guide to Publishing Ebooks” a 200+ page guide to publishing your ebooks at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore and more. It is available for download here.