What are the Best Platforms Beyond Amazon to Sell Ebooks?
Given Amazon’s dominant marketplace stronghold capturing over 83% of US ebook download transaction volume annually, indie authors often question whether distributing titles across smaller competitor platforms warrants added technical and promotional efforts.
However in my 15 years of aggregating sales data from thousands of author clients diversifying distribution assets simultaneously, clear patterns confirm that thoughtfully selected secondary channel pursuits substantially expand commercial reach and income sustainability long term against dangerous over-reliance purely on a single volatile retail partner controlling discoverability unilaterally.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons, technical publishing nuances and promotional best practices maximizing supplemental sales traction across priority non-Amazon outlets based on extensive multi-channel optimization experience.
Diversification Mitigates Risk
Before detailing specific secondary ebook channel opportunities, the overarching case for perpetually diversifying distribution partners centers around hedging visibility reliance risks authors face entrusting a solitary retailer fully controlling interest, algorithms and merchandising prioritizations tied to entire creative career incomes with little transparency or accountability.
In recent years, I’ve witnessed various scenarios jeopardize creators lacking multi-channel mitigation tactics, for example:
- Dramatic Organic Traffic Declines – Even best selling authors seeing royalty income suddenly plunge 50%+ overnight without clear causal changes made on their end after infamous Amazon algorithm updates completely decimated asset visibility and attributable sales against promises.
- Delisting False Accusations – Numerous indie publishers suddenly stripped of catalogs without explanation over fabricated policy violation claims later dismissed but only after lengthy appeal battles and painful months of zero income forced through single partner dependency.
- Demand Forecasting Deficiencies – During peak COVID lockdowns, essential practical ebooks matching surging remote work and homeschooling needs faced absolutely preventable stock-out scenarios and lost sales opportunities when Amazon’s print-on-demand distribution inadequately predicted consumer demand shifts and temporarily ran out print copies failing authors when other retailers thrived. While still the sales volume leader, placing full distributor dependency and income reliability across Amazon’s shoulders alone risks disastrous downside insufficiently respected until personally experienced. Their internal shifts introduce uncontrollable volatility. Mitigating commercial viability across diversified channels offers creators significant insulation by the numbers.
Evaluating Supplemental Platform Options
Beyond Amazon, hundreds of smaller consumer ebook platforms globally compete carving out niche space intermittently challenging for subscriber mindshare. Determining which opportunities justify content distribution prioritization depends on channel-specific variable analysis.
For authors参考 lacking the bandwidth simultaneously engaging every platform perpetually, I advise narrowly evaluating assets一一位 on core benchmark criteria:
Built-In Audience Size & Propensity
Channels drawing Demonstrate provable traction selling content deeply aligned niche demographics matching author’s offer positioned conversion stand highest probability near term sales success once
Favorable Income Terms
Anything under 30% royal commissions translates into meaningfully additive creator revenue once sales materialize. But sub 15% certainly incentives initial speculative content experiments further minimizing downside risk.
Technical Distribution Burden
Platforms either natively integrating major ebook formatting standards like EPUB require minimal additional production effort beyond upload alone. Whereas highly customized file requirements prove excessively labor intensive perpetually struggling adoption.
**Validation Transparency **
Sales reporting dashboard transparency including geographic customer segments insights, precise author earnings accountability, refund monitoring and other key datapoints establishes foundations tracking optimization efforts and ensures proper payments.
Referral & Affiliate Options
Supportive partner programs allowing authors enrollment access driving incremental referrals, affiliate promotions and API usage enabling creative sales funnel additions compensate for comparatively smaller built-in platform audiences currently.
While dozens of intriguing ebook platforms launch monthly all around the world, vetting options against core criteria above filters higher probability channels worth ongoing investment balancing requisite efforts against visible revenue. Now let’s examine a few.
Apple Books Distribution
Beyond Amazon, Apple Books still retains the widest standalone reach and premium brand familiarity supporting profitable indie author sales supplemented long term through global device ecosystem integration if properly optimized:
- Generous 70/30 royalty splits incentivizing engagement
- Already integrated by ~112+ million iPhone users natively
- Clean sales reporting and financial dashboards
- Wide app-based and web checkout format options
- Struggles A/B testing or dynamic promotions limiting
- Titles face immense title competition visibility challenges
- Requires iOS optimized fixed layout formatting
- Lacks Amazon’s suggestion engine sales reach perpetual
For authors already publishing natively iOS-optimized editions, enabling Apple Books distribution requires minimal effort. Ancillary income reliably accrues over time tapping into loyal device user tendencies making impulse entertainment purchases, including books.
But perseverant optimization perpetually testing promotional levers and store featuring remains vital seeing sustainable unit volumes compared against Kindle readers less distracted by multiplayer games and social apps. Prioritizing iPad book layouts certainly ideal catering to core user base behaviors.
Kobo Writing Life Distribution
Emerging as a viable secondary sales channel rivaling Amazon reach in countries like Canada, the UK and Australia, Toronto-based Kobo offers indie authors compelling distribution terms reaching tens of millions of international customers:
- Direct publishing portal submission ease
- 70% royalties on books over $2.99
- Sales reporting transparency on par with Amazon
- 6 Million registered Kobo eReaders drive organic sales
- Smaller North American consumer footprint
- Website buying experience lags Amazon sophistication
- Modest marketing analytic visibility impedes A/B promotions
- Reduced promotional merchandising control levers
For sellers catering significant overseas region demand already or literary fiction themes resonating better internationally anyway, Kobo distribution represents smart commercial expansion netting incremental royalty income from secondary audiences.
And strategic bundling stocking retailers like Walmart, Indigo and lesser chains certainly evidentiary pursuing if depicting respectable prior Kobo sales traction indicating probable sell through rates justifying upfront promoter partnerships.
Google Play Books Publishing
As world’s largest search engine now dedicating resources growing fledgling ebook verticals, Google Play Books storefronts warrant consideration matching 2 billion active monthly user search portal traffic against owned native Android mobile reading apps.
- Brand name trust and awareness lifts conversions
- Generous ebook royalty rate terms
- Tight platform SEO, SEM integration
- Omnichannel checkout format flexibility
- Secondary sales priority below Amazon
- Format compatibility challenges some EPUB 3.0 assets
- Early stage audience metrics lack sophistication
- Susceptible to perpetual UI/UX changes and pivot risks
For non-fiction niches leaning more technical, leveraging seamless Google account integration and likelihood capturing adjacent embedded user searches across devices may reward patient authors giving fledgling channels years reaching maturity finding engaged readership niches.
Scribd & Kindle Unlimited Distribution
For authors focused solely on maximizing audience reach over income, participating in “Netflix for Books” unlimited reading subscription programs like Scribd and Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited channels forfeit sales royalties for borrowed circulation visibility at undisclosed payout rates.
- Massive Build-In Subscriber Audience Reach
- Strong Channel Initial Featuring Support
- Passive Marketing After Title Approval & Launch
- Provides Royalty Floor Between New Releases
- Forfeits Direct Customer Relationship Ownership
- Limits Title Pricing & Promotions Control
- Dictates Strict Exclusivity Terms
- Non-Transparent Payment Calculations
If willing participating playing opaque visibility games long term lockstepping business models fully to retail benefactors, passive distribution options make perpetuated sense, especially categories like sci-fi and romance seeing high engagement.
Just ensure upfront contracts allow flexibility pulling distribution rights returning to sales models directly if visibility platform manipulation squeezes income sustainability unethically over time. Content exclusivity always deserves room reevaluation as market positions shift.
Recommended Secondary Channel Priorities
Determining which supplemental sales platforms beyond Amazon best match given ebook catalog audience targeting parameters and perpetual content production bandwidth certainly contains far too many variable dynamics covering completely here.
But at high level based on years gathering multi-channel sales data for clients, below channel priorities hold merit testing initially:
Audience-First Business Models
- Apple Books
- Google Play Books
- Niche Direct Sites
Reach-First Business Models
- Kindle Unlimited
- Public Libraries
- Search Engine Distribution
Measure sales reporting transparency and actual observable unit volumes quarter over quarter dictate channel expansion/contraction decisions rather than wasted upfront guesswork. Where niches clearly convert, press distribution aggressiveness.
Perpetual Multi-Channel Commitments
Once identifying winning secondary platforms demonstrating commercial viability, creators must reframe mindsets embracing multi-channel publishing commitments as essential business hygiene rather than distraction activity with lower income potential than obsession with Amazon alone.
Channel diversification means accepting added technical workflows, nuanced promotional optimizations and divided sales reporting analytics attention perpetually hedging visibility reliance against sudden platform shifts instantly de-prioritizing assets overnight without income recourse.
But rather than spreading teams thin diluting focus, consider delegating diversification duties to capable publishers or collaborative co-author partners with infrastructure appreciating back-end heavy lifting modern book selling requires. This frees up creative leaders perpetuating legacy works themselves more reliably over long horizons.
The enduring multi-channel sales results ultimately justify hassles adapting to new environments and buying behaviors when audiences freely shift loyalties anytime competitor technology disruption introduces paradigm changes across digital reading and buying formats.
Hopefully this framework gives authors ample food for thought discovering their own optimal secondary sales channel diversification strategies balancing perpetuated technology capability, risk tolerance and marketing bandwidth pursuing income sustainability over dangerous solitary dependency. Please let me know any other questions!
- 1 What are the Best Platforms Beyond Amazon to Sell Ebooks?
- 1.1 Diversification Mitigates Risk
- 1.2 Evaluating Supplemental Platform Options
- 1.3 Apple Books Distribution
- 1.4 Kobo Writing Life Distribution
- 1.5 Google Play Books Publishing
- 1.6 Scribd & Kindle Unlimited Distribution
- 1.7 Recommended Secondary Channel Priorities
- 1.8 Perpetual Multi-Channel Commitments