I run into folks from time to time who are looking for Amazon KDP alternatives for whatever reason. Most of the time it’s because they’ve been banned from KDP or they are disenchanted with Amazon for another reason.
I get it.
Generally, we don’t like monopolies. We want to have choices and a way to control the outcome of our efforts without too much hassle.
In other situations, people just want to know what’s going on with their books on every platform and going through an aggregate just won’t do. The information presented here will also apply to this scenario.
It’s fairly obvious that Amazon owns the lion’s share of the eBook publication profits today. This is why I recommend newbie publishers to start on Kindle Direct Publishing. Make no mistake about it though, Amazon doesn’t own ALL the global eBook publication profits and it should be noted, they lose their foothold outside of the US and UK markets.
I’m going to cover the five most popular Amazon KDP alternatives first, and then I’ll talk about some of your other options.
Table of Contents
Profits for Amazon KDP Alternatives
So, who takes the remaining percentage of eBook sales and can we get access to them? The rest of the ebook sales goes to five or six sources based on the distribution region.
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll get one out of the way and that’s the miscellaneous or other category. These are the smaller publishing platforms who together add up to a decent share of eBook earnings. This percentage can be about 2-3%.
Who are the other five alternatives to Kindle Direct Publishing? How much are they pulling in eBook profits? Can we access them? Let’s answer these questions right now.
The Big Five Amazon KDP Alternatives
1. Apple Books
Except for Canada, Apple pulls most global eBook profits outside of Amazon. It’s fairly easy to get an account for publishing your books through Pages. This used to be Apple iAuthor. If you don’t have access to Apple’s Microsoft Word alternative, Pages, then you’ll have to publish to Apple Books via an aggregate like Draft2Digital. Apple makes up about 8-17% of sales in the US, UK, and Canada, while they hold over a third of sales in Australia and dominate over half of the sales in New Zealand.
With Apple Books, you’re going to reach 51 Apple stores and the royalty rate is 70% regardless of your pricing. You can distribute eBooks and audiobooks, but you’ll need Findaway Voices for the latter.
- Nice royalty
- Too many dashboards and hoops to jump through
- Clunky interface
- No direct audiobook distribution
2. Barnes & Noble Press
This retailer commonly identified for their brick and mortar stores has no real foothold outside of the US. Don’t let that dissuade you from setting up shop with Barnes & Noble Press. They make up about 4% of the $3,177,000 in US eBook sales. To get access to Barnes & Noble distribution, head over to press.barnesandnoble.com.
Barnes and Noble can distribute your eBooks, print books, and your audiobooks via Findaway Voices…same as Apple. eBook royalties are 70% and print is 55% minus print fees.
- eBook distribution to 12 regions
- Excellent print quality
- Easy user interface
- Print books distribute to U.S. only
- Limited reach
- Print formatting is a pain
- No direct audiobook distribution
3. Google Play
Don’t sleep on this one since Google is one of the largest and most accessible online search engines today. Google Play hoovers around 2% of all ebook sales in the major regions, according to Author Earnings.
Plagued by piracy for a few years, Google Play shut down access to new accounts until late 2017, when they finally started opening the doors to a few new publishers.
They seem to have things under control now for quite a few years, so you shouldn’t have any issue setting up your account at play.google.com/books/publish.
Google Play distributes everywhere Google including 70+ regions. Google’s Android is the most popular operating system in the world, with 2.5 billion users in 190 countries. Every instance of Android includes Google Play Books.
Their royalty rate is 70% regardless of price. If you allow 10% of your book as a sample, Google will index it in their search engine, aiding in discoverability like no other platform.
- I mean, it’s Google
- Set royalty system
- Book sample indexing in search engine
- User interface is a bit clunky
- Sometimes you have to apply for an account, sometimes you don’t
- No access to audiobook distribution
4. Kobo Writing Life
Where Kobo only carries a fraction of a percent to 7% in the US, UK, and Australia, they carry about a third of eBook sales in Canada and New Zealand. Head over to writinglife.kobobooks.com to set up your account today.
Kobo distributes eBooks and audiobooks: eBooks to 14 regions with 22 platforms, audiobooks to 6 major regions plus 4 distribution sites.
The royalties for eBooks is a simple 70%. That’s where the simplicity ends.
For audiobooks priced $2.99 or lower, it’s 35%. For audiobooks more than $2.99, it’s 45%. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to price my audiobook higher than $2.99!
- Access to Overdrive without the revenue share through places like Draft2Digital
- Best user interface of all options mentioned in this article
- Kobo Plus – it’s like Kindle Unlimited without the exclusivity agreement
- Weird audiobook royalty structure has dissuaded me to try their direct audiobook access to date
This is one of my favorite Amazon KDP alternatives because of their expanded distribution. While it’s the exact same thing you get through KDP, you can command a higher royalty from IngramSpark by cutting out the Amazon middleman.
The caveat is the upload/update fees IngramSpark charges; however, if you are a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, then you know these fees are waived for you. Plus you get a ton of other benefits which make this workaround worth it!
IngramSpark handles eBook and print distribution. They have the widest reach of all the platforms available to self-publishers today. So much so, that Amazon KDP uses the expanded distribution provided by their parent company, Ingram Content Group.
They distribute to 6 regions and 36 different avenues which land your book in a whopping 40,000 retailers and libraries.
Their royalty rates halt my desire to try them for eBooks. It’s 40% of the net profits.
- Widest distribution available for print
- Great print quality
- Bring your own ISBN
- Cost of uploads/updates – $49 per upload and $25 per update
- Lack of transparency – we don’t get to know the 40,000+ avenues are
- Customer support complaints – I’ve had numerous viewers reach saying customer support doesn’t get back to them or gives them an answer that has nothing to do with the reason they reached out in the first place
More Amazon KDP Alternatives
Blurb is an aggregate publisher that distributes eBooks and print books.
Their reach includes:
- Their own bookstore
- Google Play
- API for your website
The way aggregates like Blurb work is they usually take a small portion of your royalties from each platform for the free use of their publishing tools and distribution. This is normally a fair trade and really makes publishing easy for almost anyone.
The royalty rate for eBooks from Blurb is 100% of net profits after conversion fees. I’m not really clear on their print royalties.
- Stellar print quality
- Wide distribution
- Print base cost is relatively high
- Print guidelines are different from KDP
- High conversion fee, but compensated with 100% royalty
I’ve been talking about Lulu for a long time. I have a contact there who has appeared on my channel a couple of times, shout out to Chelsea Bennett! Lulu has its issues, but I don’t believe we should count them out. They bring some unique things to the table.
Lulu distributes eBooks and print books. As an aggregate, their reach includes:
- Lulu Express
- Shopify integration
- Woocommerce integration
- Website API integration
- Barnes & Noble
- Ingram book group
With Lulu, you get a 90% of net profits royalty for eBooks, the full 90% through Lulu’s store, and 80% minus net profits minus print fees on your print books.
- Excellent print quality
- Unique options including spiral binding, comics, and magazines
- Wide distribution
- Longevity – been around for 20+ years
- Only pay out quarterly
- High cost print fee
- Rocky past though following a switch to a new platform in 2020, but they are doing well now
- Slow print fulfillment
PublishDrive handles it all: eBooks, print, and audiobooks. They have a wider reach than most aggregate publishers because they have an avenue into a market no one else has: China.
The royalty rate is 100% of net profits. PublishDrive doesn’t work on a revenue share model. They are actually subscription based, so you have to pay a monthly fee for the publications you host on their platform. They charge per number of books. As of this writing, it’s $14.19 per month for 1 book billed annually. Just to give you an idea of the range, their most expensive plan is $83.99 per month for 4 books.
It’s pretty gutsy of them to choose this model in a world of free options. They been around for several years now, so I guess it works for them.
- Super wide distribution
- One-stop shop
- The monthly subscription model
- Oddball distribution avenues
If you’re looking for Smashwords, look no further. Draft2Digital actually acquired Smashwords and rather than absorb the platform entirely, they’ve basically kept it intact for all the reasons authors love it.
Draft2Digital is my favorite aggregate publishing platform. They distribute eBook and paperbacks and reach dozens of platforms. They pay a 90% royalty on net profits. It varies per platform how much you actually end up seeing.
- Superior customer support
- Amazing free interior formatting tool
- Direct integration with Findaway Voices
- Print fresh out of beta and still has some quirks
Whew, That’s Quite a List
Who am I missing?
I know I haven’t covered some of the smaller aggregates and companies. I’m currently in the process of evaluating new platforms and getting contacts at those companies so I can bring you even more information on Amazon KDP alternatives.
I’ll update this post as I get new information.