Distributing Your Book

The format(s) you choose for your book will determine the distribution and marketing channels you can use for marketing your book: particularly when marketing your book to libraries; librarians tend to turn to established distributors of library books when purchasing

POD and print book distribution

POD books are usually distributed directly to the buyer by the POD company. POD companies are printers, not publishers, so most do not market the books they produce. This is why it could be important which POD formatter you choose to format your book and what distributors they use.

If you choose Amazon’s CreateSpace as your POD formatter, your library distributor will be Baker & Taylor. Baker & Taylor has been a “leading wholesale distributor of books, video and music products” to libraries and bookstores since 1828. Historically, Baker & Taylor offered an elite service only to publishers selling books books to libraries. B&Ts foray into self-publishing book distribution is relatively new.

On the other hand, if you choose Lightning Source to format your POD book, your self-published book will appear in Ingram’s catalog, a copy of which goes to almost every library in the US and elsewhere. lngram is the largest distributor of books and ebooks in the world.

Ingram is also a publisher. It’s IngramSpark division offers small publishers and self-publishers an integrated publishing and distribution service for both print and ebook versions of their books.

Ebsco is another popular library service company that has been around for years. Ebsco is well-known for its distribution of magazine and journal subscriptions to libraries. Now Ebsco distributes ebooks too.

As wholesale library vendors like Ebsco and Baker & Taylor switch from paper to digital books for libraries, these companies are tending to be more inclusive. They are distributing ebooks, audiobooks, and PDF books from both published and self-published authors.

However, if you are a self-publisher of a print book, you may find some traditional library-book vendors may not be willing to to distribute a self-published book. Before you sign up with a POD printer or a book distributor, be sure to ask them whether they have regularly distributed book titles to libraries. Get the details about their distribution channels and their shipments to libraries.

Ebook distributors

Ebook versions of books have a major advantage over print books. Because ebooks are digital files, rather than physical objects, the author can and should market their ebook through as many distributors as they believe can sell it. Amazon is the biggest ebook seller, but it is easy for your book to get lost amidst the millions of others.

A disadvantage of using multiple distributors for your ebook will lie in managing and tracking all those sales and payments through different distribution channels.

If you expect to make a lot of sales with your ebook, ebook formatters, such as eBookArchitects, have partners like eBookParnership who will sign up your ebook with different distributors, track sales, and handle payments to you form sales of your ebook through multiple distributors – for an extra cost of course.

If you have a genre fiction ebook, be sure to do your own research about distributors. You may find that there are additional distributors online who sell books in the same genre as your ebook. These distributors may serve just the market that you want to reach.

Ebook sales online are largely controlled by eReader device- and app-producers and bookstores. These include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple (iBooks), and Rakuten’s Kobo, the new distributor of ebooks for Sony’s eReader too.

Many eBook publishers, such as Google Play, eBook PartnershipBookBaby, and Vook will also handle the distribution or your ebook. ebookit offers distribution through Ingram, and it also converts audiobooks.

Plus there are many small online bookstores that sell genre fiction ebooks. This smaller market is constantly changing. You’ll need to do research on it.

When estimating costs of ebook distribution, see Vook’s page on the percentages that the biggest retail ebookstores take out from the list price (i.e. retail price) of an ebook. These bookstores take out 30% to 60%. Vook, a short-form ebook publisher, takes out another 15% beyond that from those who use its services.

OverDrive is a global distributor of ebooks to public libraries. Smashwords, the world’s biggest formatter and distributor of “indie” ebooks recently agreed to make 200,000 self-published ebook titles available to public libraries with Overdrive.

In addition, Smashwords also made a deal with Baker & Taylor to feature their self-published ebooks in Baker & T’aylor’s databases for public and academic libraries. For more about college and university library distribution, see Scholarly book and ebook distribution below.

Ebook subscription services

There is brand new way to distribute your ebook. Subscription services for ebooks are similar to the popular book clubs that distribute print books directly to readers who sign up. However, ebook subscriptions services are much more generous in how many ebooks they offer their readers.

The reader of subscription ebooks pays a single fee and can download as many ebooks as they desire. Scribd, Oyster, and Entitle Books are the major providers who are offering these ebook subscription services.

However, as the following article opines, Amazon wants readers to pony up $120 per year for the same thing an ebook lover can download from their public library for free. Will subscription ebooks merely be a fad? Or a new distribution channel here to stay? One indication of a “no” answer is that DBD just announced in September 2015 that Oyster says it will shut down in 2016,  Entitle has already wound down, and Scribd has cut back on romances and audiobooks.

Scholarly textbook and ebook distribution

If you’re intending to market your book to college or university libraries, your book might be distributed through academic Overdrive or Ingram. Ingram is now a partner with Ebsco, a library book vendor. Ingram distributed Ebsco’s ebooks via Ingram’s OASIS® (Online Acquisitions and Selection Information System) database for libraries.

eFollett is a wholesale distributor of ebook textbooks for college students and K-12 school students in the US and Canada. The Follett Corporation has distributed college textbooks for sale or rent by college and University bookstores for well over a century. Follett School Solutions is an award-winning distributor of books to K-12 public schools. Follett works with customers around the world.

Other distributors of scholarly ebooks and PDF books include JSTORWiley Online LibrarySpringerLinkSafari BooksProject Muse, Elsevior’s Science Direct, and McGraw Hill’s Access Medicine.

ebrary is a ProQuest business that serves more than 4,500 library customers around the world. ProQuest is a high-powered library database provider. It works with more than 9,000 publishers around the world. Like Ebsco, ProQuest recently partnered with Ingram’s OASIS® to to make library ordering of ProQuest ebooks easier.

PDF book distribution

PDF books are usually distributed by their authors. You can use a host, such as DPD (Digital Product Delivery)ejunkie, or 2checkout along with an online payment service such as PayPal or Stripe.

Your hosting site will enable you to connect to payment portals, along with keeping track of orders so you can manage your orders. This is helpful when you need to re-send a file or wish to distribute a PDF for no cost and be able to track how many people “bought” your free PDF.

DPD also provides PDF encryption and copyright protection through PDF stamping/ buyer tracking. This latter feature enables you to stamp every page of your PDF with the buyer’s personally identifiable information. This discourages sharing of the file and enables you to discover who posted any of it online without your permission.

Libraries usually offer PDF books as part of a digital database that they purchase from a library vendor and link to their library catalog.

Examples of library subscription-service companies are Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360; EBSCO’s eBooks & Audiobooks; Cengage Learning’s Gale Virtual Reference Library; Ingram’s MyiLibrary; OverDrive; ProQuest’s ebrary; EBSCOhost (formerly NetLibrary); and 3M™ Cloud Library. PDF books, like their digital counterparts, will usually be listed in local library catalogs and on the WorldCat website.

Audiobook distribution

Audiobooks for libraries and schools that come in CD packages are distributed by companies like Ebsco, Amazon’s Audible, Random Houses’ two collections: Books on Tape, and Listening Library.  40,000 e-audiobooks are now being distributed to libraries via  3M™ Cloud Library’s patron app.

In addition, my new page on Authormaps, “Audiobooks at The Library” covers audiobook apps for library patrons, what formats of audiobooks libraries are buying, and ways to get your audiobook into the library.

Also, if you wish to distribute audiobooks directly to  readers,  you might like to speak with an independent audiobook producer, such as John Mahoney of Raven Audiobooks. He interviewed for Authormaps on November 11, 2011.

You might also consider audiobook rental sites such as simply audiobooks. Audible (Amazon) and iTunes (Apple) also offer audiobook rentals. books free, the sponsor of Audiobooks Now (available with a Google or Apple App). For current ratings of several other audiobook rentals as well, see the 2015 Best Audiobook Service Review.

If you are producing an audiobook for an audience that has difficulty seeing the font in typical books, particularly those who are older, consider creating a large-type print book. Large-type books are popular with many public library librarians and patrons.

Specialty and rare book distribution

If you have a book you wish to sell to special libraries or to a librarian in charge of special collections or a rare book room in the library, you might want to consider distributing your book through one of these specialty vendors. Also, know that some librarians do buy books directly from Amazon or from local chain and independent bookstores or even from dealers in hard-to find books.

The impact of your formatting and distribution choices on selling your book is why Slider One on the Authormaps Home page, “Branding Your Book” advises you to carefully consider the audience(s) for your book when you first begin writing. If your audience includes libraries, it’s helpful to know which kind(s) of libraries and librarians you intend to market your book to and what kinds of books they will buy.


Marketing Your Book to Libraries, An Insider's Guide for Authors


   Word-of-mouth advertising is the best way to sell your book

Libraries keep books on the shelf for far longer than bookstores do

Library catalogs & databases offer superior discoverability of books & ebooks


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