There are numerous distributors and aggregators that will deliver your book to retail outlets, which then sell your book to customers.
The term distributor often refers to companies that deliver print books, while the term aggregator indicates companies that deliver eBooks and audiobooks. However, the terms aggregator and distributor may be used interchangeably. Most distributors are also printers. Some distributors and aggregators are also retailers. Many distributors and aggregators may provide additional services such as interior design for print books, cover design, eBook formatting and conversion and/or audiobook production.
Print Book Distributors
Distributors make your print book available for purchase to online retailers and brick-and-mortar bookstores, which means those stores can purchase copies on an as-ordered-by-a-customer basis or in bulk should they believe your book will sell well to their demographic. Specialized distributors can also deliver your book to libraries and other distributors.
The benefits of using a book distributor:
- They notify a large number of outlets that your book is available for sale, and allow it to be ordered by a retailer, bookstore or library at any time.
- They allow bulk print-book orders, which can be delivered directly to you at-cost (printing, shipping and handling fees) or shipped to a bookstore or other outlet you designate.
- They can print as few as one book at a time
- They can drop ship orders directly to your customers.
- A customer can walk into a local bookstore and order your book directly from the retail outlet.
For making your print book available for purchase to retail outlets and libraries, distributors usually charge the publisher a flat fee. They collect the revenue received and pass it onto the publisher less printing and shipping costs.
Be aware: Distributors make your book available for purchase by outlets and libraries. They do not guarantee that a retailer, other distributor, or library will stock your book or make it available for purchase on their website or in their store. It is the publisher/author’s responsibility to market the book to consumers and to promote it directly to bookstores, retailers and libraries so they choose to buy it. If your book is selected by an online retailer to be made available for purchase on their site, it is ultimately the outlet’s decision to determine the status of your title. For example: Amazon encourages independent publishers to distribute print books directly through their own platform (Amazon KDP), and they reward those publishers by giving their titles preferred status. In comparison, print-on-demand titles that are listed on Amazon through a distributor are often designated as “temporarily unavailable” or “out of stock”.
eBook aggregators make your book available for purchase to online retailers, libraries and other distributors. For delivering an eBook to outlets, aggregators may charge the publisher a set-fee, or a percentage of the book’s retail price, or a percentage of the revenue received from the retailer, or a combination of fees and percentages. Top eBook aggregators include IngramSpark, BookBaby, Smashwords, Draft2Digital and in the UK, eBook Partnership.
Audiobook aggregators make your book available for purchase to online retailers, libraries and other distributors. Audiobook aggregators collect the money from sales from the retail outlet or library and remit it to the publisher/author, less their percentage of the revenue received. Most audiobook aggregators offer audiobook production services. Three of the top audiobook aggregators are Author’s Republic, Findaway Voices and ListenUp.