What Are The Best Ways To Sell Books Online?

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Where To Sell Your Books Online

Making sensible retailer choices to help you to sell books online

There is no right or wrong way when you decide which book and ebook retailers you are going to select. All of them can help you to sell your books online.

Your aim is to use the best possible routes towards potential book buyers to gain sales for your titles.

There are many online book retailer choices available. But when it comes to ebooks, there are a few decisions you will need to make before you list your book.

The first is to decide if you only want unit sales at your cover price. Or do you also want to offer your ebooks to ebook subscriptions services?

Note that ebook subscription services usually pay a much lower royalty than for ebook unit sales.

The second decision is whether you a willing to accept Amazon exclusivity. Or do you want to remain totally independent?

In other words, do you want your ebooks available on many ebook retailers as possible, or only on Amazon Kindle?

To make these decisions, you need to understand what online retailers can offer you, and more importantly, what they demand from you.

The details below of the major online book and ebook retailers will give you a brief outline before you start doing your own research.



Amazon, FBA, Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, KDP and KDP Select

Amazon sells books. Every type of book you can imagine. It is the place to sell textbooks, paperback novels, colouring books, hardcover bestsellers as well as university and college textbooks.

In my teaching job, I buy all my course books from Amazon. This is because it offers free shipping and even textbook buyback if I overorder.

If you are publishing outside of Amazon, you can still sell copies of your printed books on its store by using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). You need to get a price quote and shipping labels to use Amazon’s service to sell for you.

It goes without saying that almost all authors choose to have both their paperbacks and ebooks available on Amazon.

Amazon is by far the largest global online book retailer. So it is always the best place to sell your books. This is especially true if you are new to self-publishing and looking to publish your first book.

For paperbacks, hardcover and audiobooks, Amazon is absolutely the primary book retailer to use.

When it comes to ebooks, Amazon can play it a little tough with how you can offer your ebooks on the Kindle Store.

When you upload and publish an ebook on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), your ebook will be available for sale on the Kindle Store on all Amazon sites.

But when you publish your Kindle ebook, you will be given the option of enrolling in KDP Select. This is definitely not the same as the standard KDP.

If you enrol with a simple click into KDP Select, you will be granting Amazon total exclusivity to your ebook. You will not be able to offer your ebook for sale on any other retailer for a period of 90 days. Or longer if you also have auto-renew ticked.

If you want to be able to sell your ebooks on other retailers, do not enter your book in KDP Select.

But, if you want to offer your ebooks on Kindle Unlimited, you will have to enrol in KDP Select.

There are some advantages to KDP Select. But be very sure that you know the differences between KDP and KDP Select before making your choice.


Apple iBooks

Apple and iBooks

Apple iBooks only sells ebooks. But it is second to Amazon in market share, so it is a very good online retailer to use.

More and more people are reading on iPhones and iPads. So having your ebooks available for sale on Apple is a good option.

It is possible to publish directly with Apple. But it is much easier to use an aggregator that will do this for you. You can read about aggregators later in this article.

Apple does not have an ebook subscription service. For some authors, this is a good thing, as royalties are not going to vary from month to month.


Barnes and Noble and Nook

Barnes & Noble and Nook

B&N used to be second only to Amazon. But in the last couple of years, its bookseller market share has declined. This is especially so for its Nook ebook business.

You can publish ebooks directly with Nook. But this option is only available for US authors. For non-US authors, the only option is to use an aggregator.

If you publish in paperback on Blurb, Lulu or any other print on demand platform, you can have your books listed for sale on B&N.

It is worth noting that you can also publish a paperback on KDP. But it does not offer the facility to make your books available on any other sales channel or retailer.




Coming in after Apple in market share, Kobo is worth using. But don’t expect a huge number of sales.

Kobo has a small but loyal user base. So if your ebooks manage to gain some traction, it is possible to gain sales.

Kobo also offers an ebook subscription service called Kobo Plus.

Again, you can publish directly with Kobo, but the easier way is via an aggregator.


google play books

Google Play Books

Google is worth a try.

I have always thought that Google Play should perform much better than it does.

You need to publish directly. But it has an absolutely awful and confusing publishing dashboard and an even worse sales reporting system.

You might get lucky, but I have never gained a lot of sales. But sales do sometimes trickle through.


The other retailers, and libraries

There are many ebook retailers including Tolino, Scribd, 24Symbols and Playster to name a few. There are also some speciality retailers like All Romance Books and Omnilit.

While much smaller in market share, you might be lucky and find some sales traction.

The last sales avenue is libraries. The best way to get your ebooks into libraries is to use an aggregator that supplies OverDrive, which specialises in library ebook distribution.


ebook aggregators

Choosing an aggregator.

The best-known ebook aggregators are Smashwords and Draft2Digital.

Both are truly excellent services that offer very good support.

In choosing between the two, you might want to consider which one suits your needs best.

Draft2Digital is easy to use and requires very little knowledge of ebook formatting. But Smashwords offers a wider range of distribution channels including libraries.

You can read more here about Draft2Digital and Smashwords.


Use an aggregator or go direct?

The benefit of using an aggregator is that your ebooks are made available to a solid list of ebook retailers. Also, your royalty payments are managed in one place. That is, by the aggregator. This is a convenient way to get paid.

But if you publish directly with retailers, you will gain a slightly higher royalty, as you won’t be paying a cut to an aggregator.

However, your royalty payments will be split, and might also be affected by minimum earnings payments.

It always pays to check how and when you will be paid before you make a decision.



Choosing your online retailers for paperbacks is easy. Get your books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble if possible, and as many more as you can find.

With ebooks, however, there is always a difficult choice to make.

Open-publishing, which means having your ebook available on as many retailers as you can find.

Or, Amazon KDP Select exclusivity, which means your ebook will only be available on the Amazon Kindle Store.

This choice is up to each individual author. There is no right or wrong choice as there are benefits to both.

If you have a number of titles, you can always have some in and some out. Then you can see which works best for you in the long-term.

Tip! Don’t forget to ask your local bookstores if they will agree to stock your books. You never know.

You can also offer your ebooks for sale directly from your website or blog. You will need a little technical ability to link downloads with a payment service such as Paypal.

Once you have made your choices on where to sell your books and ebooks it will be time to promote your books.

That is when the hard work really starts.


More reading: What Paypal Fees Can Authors And Pro Bloggers Expect To Pay?


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

5 thoughts on “What Are The Best Ways To Sell Books Online?

  • May 16, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Gave D2D a try and discovered their converter cannot handle anything but first-level headings. It’s okay for fiction or narrative non-fiction, but not topical non-fiction with sub-headings. Another problem I encountered was with bullets to call a reader’s attention to specific points or procedural steps. Their converter does strange things if you put a space between the bullet and the text associated with it. D2D will accept uploads in the EPUB format, so authors who know how to revise the HTML in an EPUB file might be able to get around some of these problems. But D2D won’t change an EPUB file to accommodate the points of sale where they distribute your book, so that might cause some problems with NOOK, B&N, Apple and so forth.

  • October 29, 2018 at 3:39 am

    Thank you. I learned something. My books are sold only on Amazon and I was wondering if it’s worth expanding.

  • July 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    I’m almost ready to launch my novel, and I’ve also been considering Tablo, especially as you have access to global print-and-demand services. Have you used this feature, or are you only distributing ebooks?

  • May 10, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    I have published my last two books on tablo.io, located in Australia. The platform is fun, permitting the author to literally write the book chapter-by-chapter at any time of day…sharing content with other members and with Twitter and Facebook. When the book is completed, a simple click of the publish button and the book is placed under review. Within a few days, the editors notify you as to the status of publishing. If accepted there is a small charge to refine, edit and make the book technologically appropriate to be printed-on-demand and as an eBook. The book is then listed on various sellers like amazon, B&N, as well as many others around the world. I have been extremely positive about the entire process and the way my books look and read. I have even spoken with Ash Davies, the founder! LOL

  • January 19, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Google play is horrible to use. Least user-friendly publishing tool I’ve ever used.


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