Up until a few years ago, authors relied on traditional publishing for print, distribution, and book marketing. Besides writing the book and going on book tours, there wasn’t much else they needed to do. From cover design to listed price, publishing houses were the sole responsible for turning manuscripts into books for readers to enjoy. The roles between publishers and authors were very clear.
Fast forward to the age of self-publishing, ebook distribution, and ebook aggregators.
How does book distribution work? Should authors go with Amazon KDP or go wide, and if publishing internationally is better, which book aggregator to choose? In this article, I go over the aggregator meaning, walk you through the best self-publishing aggregators and explain their costs and features.
What Are Ebook Aggregators?
Book aggregators bridge the gap between authors and online retailers, ensuring that your ebooks are distributed to a wide range of ebook retailers. They simplify the publishing process by handling tasks such as ebook formatting, cover design, and marketing, making it easier for authors to focus on their craft.
Before the widespread popularity of eBooks, aggregators primarily focused on supplying select eBooks to academic libraries. They acted as intermediaries between the author, distributor, and library.
Now, an effective book aggregator streamlines the distribution process, ensuring that an author’s work reaches the appropriate platforms.
Ebook distribution services are but one of the many pros of using aggregators. In addition to facilitating distribution, book aggregators manage other essential tasks involved in eBook publishing.
Most aggregators grant you access to a user account, enabling you to monitor progress through a dashboard. This dashboard typically offers valuable information, such as the eBook stores where your book is available, monthly sales figures, live sales reports, and promotional campaign outcomes.
Main Characteristics of Book Aggregators
1. Wide and diverse reach
Book aggregators have an extensive network of national and international ebook retailers, sending your work to a broader audience. By partnering with an aggregator, your book can be distributed to major platforms like Amazon, Apple Books, and Barnes & Noble, as well as to smaller, niche retailers. This expansive reach enhances the likelihood of your book being discovered by a diverse range of readers, boosting your ebook sales.
2. Simplified distribution process
One common question authors have is, "Can you self-publish on multiple sites?" Book aggregators make this possible by streamlining the distribution process. They submit your ebook to various online retailers, saving you valuable time and effort. Ebook distribution for publishers has never been easier.
3. Live sales reports and analytics
Tracking your ebook sales across multiple platforms can be a daunting task. Most book aggregators simplify this by providing live sales reports and analytics, allowing you to monitor your book's performance in real time. These insights can help you make informed decisions regarding marketing strategies and promotional campaigns which in turn sell your book faster to your intended readers.
4. Library distribution
Working with a book aggregator increases the chances of your ebook being available in public and academic libraries. Libraries usually acquire their books through aggregators or distributors, which means partnering with one can open up an additional revenue stream for authors while increasing the visibility of their work.
5. Ebook conversion and formatting
Ebook distribution services offered by aggregators often include ebook conversion and formatting, ensuring that your work is compatible with various devices and platforms. This is particularly important since different ebook retailers have specific format requirements. Aggregators take the hassle out of this process by converting your manuscript into popular formats like EPUB, MOBI, and PDF, allowing for a seamless reading experience across platforms.
6. Print-on-demand services
Some ebook aggregators offer print-on-demand (POD) services, enabling authors to produce physical copies of their books without the need for a large upfront investment. This is an excellent option for authors who want to cater to digital and print readers while minimizing financial risks.
7. Expertise and additional services
Book aggregators can handle ebook distribution and publishing. They offer guidance on best practices and provide additional services like editing, proofreading, and cover design. This expertise can be invaluable for authors who are new to the self-publishing world or those looking for professional support to enhance their distribution and sales.
8. Simplified payment and fee processing
Aggregators make it easier to manage payments and fees associated with ebook sales. They consolidate earnings from multiple platforms and handle payment processing, allowing you to receive your royalties in a more streamlined and stress-free manner.
Top Book Aggregators
Find in the table below a brief comparison of the most significant characteristics of top aggregators. You’ll also find a more detailed presentation of each aggregator in the section that follows.
Now, let’s break them down.
PublishDrive is an aggregator that offers various ebook publishing services to assist authors throughout their self-publishing journey. Authors can publish, distribute their books globally, and use the marketing tools provided by the platform to help their books gain traction. Additionally, PublishDrive offers a royalty management system and one of the top ebook conversion services at no cost.
Authors can publish their ebooks and sell them internationally on all major platforms such as Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play Books, and many others, including hard-to-access markets like China.
- Book Formats: Ebook, audiobook, print-on-demand
- Royalties: PublishDrive operates on a flat monthly subscription fee, allowing authors to retain 100% of the net royalties earned from vendors.
- Distribution: 20+ channels, 400+ stores, and thousands of digital libraries worldwide with a single click.
Draft2Digital has an intuitive interface and an array of free tools and resources. There are two features authors appreciate:
- The automated back matter, which is very useful for book series. Every time an author publishes a new ebook, the title is automatically listed on all back covers at Also by this author section in all Draft2Digital partner stores.
- The universal book links that authors can create for each of their books can redirect the readers to their preferred retailer and country store.
- Fees are approximately 10% of the retail price.
- Royalties range between 60% for ebooks and 45% for print minus the base printing cost, paid monthly based on the threshold reached [Paypal ($0 minimum), direct deposit ($0 minimum), International Direct Deposit ($10 minimum), Payoneer ($20 minimum), Check ($100 minimum)]
- Sales reports are daily.
- Distribution: Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (including Kobo Plus), Smashwords Store, Tolino, OverDrive, Bibliotheca, Scribd, Baker & Taylor, Hoopla, Vivlio, BorrowBox. They do not distribute to Google Play.
With a strong presence in Europe and Latin America, Streetlib distributes to most major retailers and is currently strengthening its position in less crowded markets, like the MENA area.
One of the features authors appreciate is their fixed format for illustrated children's books and comic books.
- Fees are 10% for each ebook’s cover price, 20% for each audiobook’s net price, and €49 installation fee + 10% for each printed book’s cover price.
- Royalties range between 40-60%, depending on the distribution model chosen, and are paid monthly.
- Sales reports are monthly. Authors can review temporary sales and a daily estimate of the day’s sales.
- Distribution: 24Symbols, Amazon, Apple Books, Bajalibros, Baker &Taylor, Barnes &Noble, Bibliotheca, Bidi, BookBeat, BookRepublic, Casa del LIbro, Decalibro, Good Book, Google Play Books, Hoepli, IBS, Il Giardino dei Libri, Il Narratore Audiolibri, Izneo, Kobo Plus, La Feltrinellil, Leamos, Libreka, Libreria Universitaria, Librerias Gangdhi, Libri, Librisalus.it, MLOL, Mondadori, Odilo, Overdrive, Perlego, Peru Bookstore, ReteIndaco, San Paolo, Scribd, Stary, Storytel, StreetLib Sore, Tocalivros, Tolino, Ubook, Unilibro, Webster.it, YouScribe.
XinXii is a German distributor able to open new foreign distribution channels even for experienced authors.
- Fees: XinXii offers two options: sell through their platform for a 30% commission rate on prices over €2.94 (or its equivalent in USD) and a 60% commission rate on prices between €0.99 - €1.98. If authors also want to have their titles distributed by the platform to other resellers, they pay a commission fee of 15%.
- Royalties range between 70% for €2.94 and up to 40% for listings between €0.99 - €1.98 to 85%. Royalties are paid once the minimum threshold of €20 ($27) is reached. Once the request is made, the money is transferred at the end of the following month.
- Sales reports are daily on the platform and monthly for the e-shops they deliver to.
- Distribution: Amazon Kindle, Angus & Robertson, buecher.de, Casa del Libro, Family Christian, Fnac, Google Play, Hugendubel, Apple Books, Indigo, Kobo, Libris, Livraria Cultura, Mondadori, Nook, Scribd, Thalia, Weltbild, Whitcoulls, WHSmith.
Lulu provides authors with assistance, publishing and promotional services, printing, worldwide distribution, and eCommerce tools to increase authors' sales.
- Fees are 10% for ebooks and 20% on others of Gross Profit, following the payment of manufacturing, distributions, and hosting fees. Distribution fees can go up to 50% of Retail Price for channels outside of Lulu Books for printed items. The ebook distribution fee is $4.99/title.
- Royalties are 90% for ebooks and 80% for others of Gross Profit.
- Sales reports are reported monthly.
- Distribution: Lulu Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Nielsen & Bowker, Gardner, Ingram, Kobo, Libri, Scribd, Google Play, Apple Books.
6. Book Baby
BookBaby provides a variety of book-related services, encompassing self-publishing, expert editing, book cover creation, marketing, printing, and distribution. You have to pay a flat fee to be able to upload your ebook to their platform and use their services. Following this initial payment, you'll be able to retain 100% of your net ebook sales from online retailers once this payment is made.
- Fees are based on the online quote: tailored to your publishing needs. Price is paid per published title.
- Royalties are 100% for the author and are paid weekly once the threshold is set by the author.
- Sales reports are live.
- Distribution: Book Baby, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Powell’s Books, Books-a-Million, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, NacsCorp, Christian Book Distributors, Bookazine, Diamond Comics, BPDI Corp.
IngramSpark serves as a dual-purpose platform for self-publishing and distribution, enabling authors to publish their work in both ebook and print formats while handling the distribution of both forms. IngramSpark allows authors to market their books across a broad array of regions.
- Fees: Free setup; as of July 1, 2023, they added a market access fee for every print book sold through Ingram's Global Distribution network. The fee consists of 1% of the list price of the title sold.
- Royalties may go up to a maximum of 70%, but in order for your book to be available for bookstores, your royalty rate needs to be set at 47%.
- Sales reports are monthly.
- Distribution: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, Indigo, Adlibris, Agapea, Aphrohead, Blackwell, Book Depository Ltd, Books Express, Coutts Information Services Ltd, Designarta Books, Eden Interactive Ltd, Foyles, Gardners, Trust Media Distribution (formerly STL), Mallory International, Paperback Shop Ltd, Superbookdeals, The Book Community Ltd, Waterstones, Wrap Distribution, Booktopia, Fishpond, The Nile, James Bennett, ALS, Peter Pal.
- IngramSpark does not handle Audiobook distribution.
Flat Fee vs. Royalty Share Model
Most ebook aggregators use a royalty share model, which doesn’t require upfront fees and allows authors to pay as they earn. At first glance, royalty share pricing seems like a great option.
But it turns out that subscription-based ebook distribution is a much more profitable option. In fact, authors can boost their take-home royalties by about 14% with subscription pricing. Here is why:
- Aggregators calculate royalties based on the sale price. This means the price of its distribution service depends on the money paid by the final customer, not the royalties you receive.
- Most authors don’t realize how much they've paid because of the consolidated payments they receive. The amount you receive from an aggregator is already decreased by the amount you paid for their service.
With fixed monthly prices, you keep all your royalties from all stores. You are earning the same royalties as you would by going directly to these stores.
Additionally, you are
- Saving time, as you are distributing in a click, not by enlisting your books manually in each store.
- Collecting royalties by accessing retailers that would not have otherwise allowed direct sign-ups from indie authors.
How to Switch from Publishing Directly to Using PublishDrive
If you’ve made your decision and you’re ready to switch to PublishDrive, here’s your step-by-step guide:
Step one: Withdraw your books directly from retailers
First, you’ll need to remove your books from all retailers where you’re currently distributing directly. Keep in mind that each retailer has different timeframes for withdrawing titles. This is what you can expect from the major retailers:
- Amazon: up to 48 hours
- Apple Books: up to 48 hours
- Google Play Books: up to 48 hours
- Kobo: 3-5 business days
Contact the store’s support team if your books haven’t been removed from sale after the above timeframes.
Step two: Unpublish any books distributed through other aggregators
You’ll need to unpublish any titles that are currently distributed through other aggregators before uploading them to PublishDrive. To do so, log in to your account and remove the books from your dashboard.
If the books are still live after about a week, contact the aggregator’s support team.
Step three: Sign up for PublishDrive and distribute your books
Once you’ve confirmed that your books are no longer listed through other retailers or aggregators, you’re good to go.
Sign up for an account at PublishDrive and upload your book. If you have a large backlist, we have a bulk upload option that allows you to upload many titles at once.
After you hit Publish, our team will get to work so your books will be live as soon as possible.
- What if I currently use PD for some stores and publish directly to major retailers at the same time? How can I distribute everything through PD?
Just follow steps 1 and 2 mentioned above. Once you’ve confirmed that your books are no longer listed through other retailers or aggregators, you can turn on distribution for all channels through PublishDrive.
To do so, navigate to Stores and Imprints in your PublishDrive dashboard, and activate all stores.
- Can I keep my reviews when switching to an aggregator?
You worked hard to earn your reviews, and we believe you shouldn’t have to give them up. Our partnerships with certain retailers allow you to keep your reviews when you switch to PublishDrive. Here’s how it works:
You can keep your reviews for Amazon*, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. Before you withdraw your books from these platforms, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know you’re in the process of moving your titles to PublishDrive, and that you’d like to keep your reviews and we’ll take care of it.
*NOTE: Be sure to save your original ASIN to keep Amazon reviews. Also, keep in mind that the links for your books will change when you switch to PD.
The Book Aggregator for You
In the self-publishing industry book aggregators play a crucial role in simplifying the process of distributing and managing an author's work across multiple platforms. By leveraging their services, authors can save time, effort, and resources while increasing their reach and potential revenue.
To choose the right aggregator, authors must evaluate their individual needs and objectives, considering factors such as distribution network, royalties, fees, and additional services offered. By conducting thorough research and comparing various options, authors can make an informed decision that best aligns with their goals and aspirations.
Ultimately, the right aggregator will not only streamline the distribution process but also provide valuable support, guidance, and resources, empowering authors to focus on their craft and maximize their success in the competitive world of self-publishing.
Our team is ready to welcome you. And we look forward to accompanying you on this journey as a self-published author.