I have written articles before about Draft2Digital and Smashwords. Both aggregators have advantages when it comes to open publishing for Indie authors.
Draft2Digital shines with its interface and automatic end-matter. Smashwords has a far wider distribution network and its own ebook store.
For self-publishers, it’s a matter of choosing the best platform that suits your publishing needs.
Both platforms can help you publish high-quality ebooks. They offer fast publishing to the leading ebook retailers such as Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.
How to remove and delete an ebook from sale
However, there is one aspect of their services, which you may rarely use. But it is very important when the need arises.
No matter the rights or wrongs, fair or unfair, Amazon demands that your ebook must be exclusive to Amazon if you want to enroll in KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited.
It can cause real problems for self-publishers when they want to enroll their ebook after they have published it elsewhere.
The issue came to a head some time ago for Smashwords when it had to end its association with Flipkart.
The problem was that Flipkart did not respect title delist notifications from Smashwords.
Many authors were punished at the time by Amazon when they enrolled in KDP Select.
The authors believed that they had delisted their published books correctly from Smashwords.
But unknown to them, their ebooks were still available on Flipkart in India months later.
Therefore, Amazon deemed that the ebooks were not exclusive and violated the terms of KDP Select.
I used Smashwords for many years. I know how hard Mark Coker has worked to fit Smashwords into an Amazon-dominated ebook market.
That he took such strong action against Flipkart showed how important he believes it is for self-publishing authors to be able to trust the delisting and unpublishing process.
It is not a process self-publishing authors will use a lot. But it is vital that when you delete an ebook, it works when you need to use it.
Delist and delete an ebook on Smashwords or Draft2Digital
I have used Draft2Digital for years now.
Many aspects of their service are impressive. However, one aspect I haven’t had the opportunity to test is its delisting process.
I am certainly a proponent of open-publishing for ebooks.
But the reality of the ebook market is that from time to time, it can be beneficial to enroll a title in Amazon KDP Select.
For me, this time arrived recently because I wanted to see the other side of the coin, so to speak.
I am an author, but I also write a lot about self-publishing. I have been open-publishing for a long time.
But I wanted to update my first-hand knowledge of the pros and cons of KDP Select. Especially the effect of Amazon Kindle Unlimited.
With that decision made, I had to delist some of my ebooks from Draft2Digital before I could enroll in KDP Select.
I hadn’t done this for some time. I expected that it would take a few days to a week to complete the process.
Well, I can happily report that my expectations were very much outdated. The delisting process on Draft2Digital was a lot faster than I expected.
Apple, Nook, and Kobo were confirmed as delisted within only a few hours. Page Foundry, Scribd, and Tolino took a little longer.
But they were confirmed as delisted in less than twelve hours. 24Symbols took the longest to delist. But it was just a little over 24 hours, which was fine.
I recall that a few years ago, I would have been happy if the delisting process took five days.
However, I can happily report that Draft2Digital is now extremely prompt in delisting and unpublishing ebook titles.
Note: Please read my update at the end of this article. Things have changed.
Why does it have to be like this?
The reality of today’s ebook market is that Amazon and Kindle books make the rules.
If you want to have access to KDP Select, it means following the Amazon exclusivity rules.
There are some benefits as a marketing tool. So it is sometimes worth enrolling in KDP Select for one or two 90 day terms.
To be able to do this, though, you must delete an ebook from all other retailers and ebook subscription services.
It’s all a pain for sure. It would be much easier if Amazon relaxed its demand for exclusivity.
But don’t expect Amazon to change its mind anytime soon. It’s something self-publishing authors, Smashwords and Draft2Digital have to live with and negotiate.
However, it is reassuring to know that both Smashwords and Draft2Digital have accepted the reality of today’s book market.
They are both assisting self-publishing authors to be able to enroll in KDP Select without any difficulty.
Of course, returning an ebook listing is very easy on Smashwords and Draft2Digital. Simply republish your ebooks.
I believe both aggregators work on the principle that their authors will, like me, return to open-publishing soon enough.
Update: It has been a little while since I originally wrote this post. I have to say now that my latest effort to delist my books from Draft2Digital was a bit disappointing.
The good news is that all the retailers, including Apple, B&N, Kobo, and Tolino, delisted within a few days.
But it is over two weeks, and I am still waiting for OneDrive and Bibliotheca to delist my ebooks. The process is definitely not as fast as it used to be.
When I contacted D2D support, they said that library vendors manage listings differently. I didn’t receive an explanation about what is different.
If you want to be sure to be able to delete an ebook quickly, do not list with these library vendors. Only list your ebooks with the major ebook retailers.
Then you can be sure that when it comes time to delist your ebooks, the process will be completed promptly.
Update two: Finally, after more than two weeks, OneDrive has finally delisted my ebooks.
But frustratingly, Bibliotheca has still yet to do so. One thing is for sure; I will never list my ebooks with One Drive or Bibliotheca ever again.
Update three: It is now nearly a month since I delisted my ebooks. Of 18 books, Bibliotheca has only managed to delist 8. This is totally unacceptable.
I have received polite replies to my emails to Draft2Digital support complaining about the inaction. But polite is no replacement for action. Draft2Digital has a problem with Bibliotheca, and it needs to resolve it.
Update four. Finally, after 30 days, Bibliotheca has delisted all my titles. It was an unacceptable amount of time. In fairness to Draft2Digital, all other retailers delisted my books promptly.
My advice would be to avoid listing with libraries such as Bibliotheca and only list with the major retailers.
Update to this article
Update Note. It came as a surprise to many authors, but Draft2digital is to acquire Smashwords. You can read more details in the announcement notice.