What are the Best Platforms Beyond Amazon to Sell Ebooks?
What are the Best Platforms Beyond Amazon to Sell Ebooks?
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What are the Best Platforms Beyond Amazon to Sell Ebooks?

Given Amazon’s dominant marketplace, capturing over 83% of US ebook download transaction volume annually, indie authors often wonder whether distributing titles across smaller competitor platforms is worth the added effort. However, based on my 15 years of aggregating sales data from thousands of author clients, diversifying distribution assets has proven to expand commercial reach and income sustainability, mitigating the risks of over-reliance on a single volatile retail partner.

Diversification Mitigates Risk

Diversifying distribution partners helps hedge visibility reliance risks that arise when authors entrust a solitary retailer with their entire creative career. Amazon’s control over discoverability can lead to sudden and significant income disruptions, such as:

  • Dramatic Organic Traffic Declines: Algorithm updates can decimate asset visibility and sales overnight.
  • Delisting False Accusations: Authors can lose their catalogs without explanation over fabricated policy violation claims, leading to lengthy appeal battles and zero income for months.
  • Demand Forecasting Deficiencies: Mismanaged stock-out scenarios during peak periods can result in lost sales opportunities.

Mitigating these risks through diversified channels offers significant insulation, as evidenced by sales data.

Evaluating Supplemental Platform Options

With hundreds of smaller ebook platforms globally, determining which to prioritize involves evaluating:

  1. Built-In Audience Size & Propensity: Platforms with proven traction in niche demographics aligned with the author’s content.
  2. Favorable Income Terms: Platforms offering less than 30% royalty commissions are attractive, with sub-15% being ideal for speculative content experiments.
  3. Technical Distribution Burden: Platforms that support major ebook formatting standards like EPUB with minimal additional production effort.
  4. Validation Transparency: Sales reporting transparency with geographic customer segments insights, precise earnings accountability, and refund monitoring.
  5. Referral & Affiliate Options: Supportive partner programs that drive incremental referrals and affiliate promotions.

Recommended Platforms

Apple Books

Pros:

  • Generous 70/30 royalty splits.
  • Integrated by ~112+ million iPhone users.
  • Clean sales reporting and financial dashboards.
  • Wide app-based and web checkout format options.

Cons:

  • Limited A/B testing or dynamic promotions.
  • Intense competition for visibility.
  • Requires iOS-optimized fixed layout formatting.
  • Lacks Amazon’s suggestion engine reach.

Ideal For: Authors with iOS-optimized editions looking to tap into loyal Apple device users.

Kobo Writing Life

Pros:

  • Direct publishing portal submission ease.
  • 70% royalties on books over $2.99.
  • Transparent sales reporting.
  • 6 million registered Kobo eReaders driving organic sales.

Cons:

  • Smaller North American footprint.
  • Less sophisticated website buying experience.
  • Modest marketing analytic visibility.
  • Reduced promotional control levers.

Ideal For: Authors targeting international markets, especially in Canada, the UK, and Australia.

Google Play Books

Pros:

  • High brand trust and awareness.
  • Generous royalty rates.
  • Tight SEO and SEM integration.
  • Omnichannel checkout flexibility.

Cons:

  • Secondary sales priority below Amazon.
  • Format compatibility challenges with EPUB 3.0.
  • Early-stage audience metrics lack sophistication.
  • Susceptible to UI/UX changes and pivots.

Ideal For: Non-fiction niches and technical subjects, leveraging Google’s vast search traffic.

Scribd & Kindle Unlimited

Pros:

  • Massive built-in subscriber audience reach.
  • Strong initial featuring support.
  • Passive marketing after title approval and launch.
  • Provides royalty floor between new releases.

Cons:

  • Forfeits direct customer relationship ownership.
  • Limits title pricing and promotion control.
  • Dictates strict exclusivity terms.
  • Non-transparent payment calculations.

Ideal For: Authors focusing on maximizing audience reach over immediate income, particularly in high-engagement genres like sci-fi and romance.

Strategic Multi-Channel Commitment

Determining the best supplemental sales platforms requires balancing effort against potential revenue. Here are the priorities based on extensive multi-channel sales data:

Audience-First Business Models

  • Apple Books
  • Kobo
  • Google Play Books
  • Niche Direct Sites

Reach-First Business Models

  • Kindle Unlimited
  • Scribd
  • Public Libraries
  • Search Engine Distribution

Perpetual Multi-Channel Commitments

Identifying winning secondary platforms is just the beginning. Creators must embrace multi-channel publishing as essential business hygiene, involving:

  • Technical Workflows: Adapting to new environments and buying behaviors.
  • Nuanced Promotional Optimizations: Testing and refining promotional strategies.
  • Divided Sales Reporting Analytics Attention: Tracking performance across channels.

Delegating diversification duties to capable publishers or collaborative co-author partners can help manage the added complexity, allowing creative leaders to focus on perpetuating legacy works.

Final Thoughts

Diversifying distribution platforms mitigates the risks associated with over-reliance on Amazon. By strategically engaging secondary channels, authors can achieve significant income sustainability and expand their reach. This approach requires ongoing technical adjustments and promotional efforts but ultimately justifies the effort through enhanced commercial viability.

If you have further questions or need additional notes, feel free to ask!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Why should I distribute my ebook on platforms beyond Amazon?

Diversifying your ebook distribution mitigates risks associated with relying on a single platform. Amazon’s algorithm changes, policy enforcement, and demand forecasting issues can significantly impact your sales. By distributing on multiple platforms, you increase your reach, gain access to different audiences, and create more stable income streams.

2. What are the main criteria for choosing secondary ebook platforms?

When choosing secondary ebook platforms, consider:

  • Built-In Audience Size & Propensity: Look for platforms with a proven track record of reaching audiences that align with your ebook’s niche.
  • Favorable Income Terms: Aim for platforms offering favorable royalty splits (ideally less than 30% commission).
  • Technical Distribution Burden: Opt for platforms that support major ebook formats like EPUB without requiring extensive reformatting.
  • Validation Transparency: Ensure the platform offers transparent sales reporting and detailed insights into customer segments.
  • Referral & Affiliate Options: Platforms with strong partner programs can help drive additional sales through referrals and affiliate marketing.

3. What are the pros and cons of Apple Books?

Pros:

  • Generous 70/30 royalty splits.
  • Integrated by over 112 million iPhone users.
  • Clean sales reporting and financial dashboards.
  • Multiple format options (app-based and web checkout).

Cons:

  • Limited ability for A/B testing and dynamic promotions.
  • Intense competition for visibility.
  • Requires iOS-optimized formatting.
  • Lacks Amazon’s powerful suggestion engine.

4. Is Kobo a good alternative to Amazon?

Yes, Kobo Writing Life is a strong alternative, especially for international markets like Canada, the UK, and Australia. It offers a direct publishing portal, 70% royalties on books priced over $2.99, and transparent sales reporting. However, it has a smaller footprint in North America compared to Amazon and less sophisticated marketing analytics.

5. How does Google Play Books compare to other platforms?

Google Play Books benefits from Google’s vast search engine traffic and brand trust. It offers favorable royalty rates and tight integration with SEO and SEM. However, it is considered secondary to Amazon in sales priority, has some format compatibility challenges, and its early-stage audience metrics are less sophisticated.

6. What are the benefits and drawbacks of subscription-based platforms like Scribd and Kindle Unlimited?

Benefits:

  • Massive built-in subscriber base.
  • Strong initial featuring support.
  • Passive marketing after title approval.
  • Provides a royalty floor between new releases.

Drawbacks:

  • Forfeits direct customer relationship ownership.
  • Limits on pricing and promotional control.
  • Requires strict exclusivity terms.
  • Non-transparent payment calculations.

7. Which platforms should I prioritize for supplemental distribution?

Based on audience size and business models:

  • Audience-First: Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, Niche Direct Sites.
  • Reach-First: Kindle Unlimited, Scribd, Public Libraries, Search Engine Distribution.

8. How should I manage the complexity of multi-channel distribution?

Consider delegating diversification tasks to capable publishers or collaborative partners to handle the technical workflows and promotional strategies. This approach allows you to focus on your creative work while ensuring a stable and diversified income stream.

9. What are the long-term benefits of multi-channel distribution?

Multi-channel distribution offers enhanced commercial viability, increased reach, and more stable income streams. It helps protect against sudden changes on any single platform and allows you to tap into various audience segments, ultimately leading to a more resilient publishing career.

If you have any more questions or need further clarification, feel free to ask!

By Dani Davis

A true visionary in the realms of tech writing, digital storytelling, and e-commerce, Daniel Davis (known as Dani) has carved out an exceptional career spanning over 15 years. Born and raised in San Francisco, Dani's innate affinity for technology and creative expression propelled them to explore the intricacies of computer science while honing their storytelling abilities. Their unique blend of technical expertise and narrative prowess laid the foundation for their multifaceted success. Dani's journey has been marked by groundbreaking achievements, including authoring bestselling books that demystify complex technological concepts through captivating narratives. As the founder of the influential online platform "TechTales," Dani has created a hub for educational content, podcasts, and video essays that cater to tech enthusiasts worldwide. Moreover, as the head writer of InfoProductHQ.com, a leading resource for e-commerce and digital marketing, Dani has established themselves as a preeminent authority in the field of online business and entrepreneurship. Their consulting work, speaking engagements, and advocacy efforts have inspired countless individuals, solidifying their legacy as a true pioneer in the digital age.

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