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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > July 2016 > Ebooks: Beyond Amazon

Ebooks: Beyond Amazon

E-publishing is a constantly changing landscape. Understand the marketplace and distribution options available with advice from Matador ebook manager Rachel Gregory

Often, I’m contacted by prospective and existing clients who are convinced that the only way they will be successful as an ebook author is to publish exclusively through Kindle. There are inarguable benefits to doing this for some authors but from my experience of the market, it isn’t the best option for everyone – and it’s certainly not the only route worth considering. It’s fair to say that it’s becoming harder to make sales in an increasingly competitive market. It’s also true that Amazon remains the dominant ebook retailer and the distribution options that are available to indie authors are diminishing… but there are still plenty of choices to make.

The digital publishing landscape is changing…

It’s impossible to ignore the influence that Amazon is having in the evolving digital publishing landscape. There is no disputing that it holds the lion’s share of the ebook market; the figures are too significant to be overlooked (it is home to almost 75% of all ebooks, including indie titles, and around 85% of all self-published ebooks). Apple and Nook hold joint second place for distributors in America in terms of the number of new ebooks made available for sale through them each month, with Google Play and Kobo following closely behind. So, what does this keen competition between Amazon and other retailers mean for authors? The answer is not clear-cut. While earning information indicates that over 80% of paid indie ebook authors were publishing through Amazon in 2015, the oft-publicised opinion that this means there is no real contest in terms of distributors is shortsighted. When considering the return that an author receives per sale, Amazon is far from generous. Kindle’s pay per-page system, brandished as a new, fairer remuneration method for authors, can result in a fluctuating, minimal royalty rate. Retailers take varying percentages from each sale and Amazon’s cut is among the lowest, provided an ebook is priced within a certain threshold, but it is the only retailer to take a delivery charge in addition to their cut in many cases. According to analysts of the Author Earnings Survey (www.authorearnings.com), when considering indie ebooks as well as those published by the trade, the smaller ebook retailers were found to be giving a larger return to indie authors; over a third of the royalties that Kobo currently pays go to selfpublished authors.

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