Knowing The Two Types Of Publishing Service Companies For Self-Published Authors

Do you know that self-published books now account for 30% to 40% of ebook sales?

This bodes well for all you self-publishing authors, and for readers whom ebooks are the preferred format. eBooks will continue to see a healthy growth in sales as more and more people adopt e-reading. Self-publishers continue to benefit as customers switch over from brick-and-mortar bookstores to online ones like Amazon, which put self-publishers on a level footing with traditional publishers.

If you are still wondering whether to self-publish or take the traditional route, carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option. Start by putting together a list of publishing service companies that are popular among independent authors and will fit your needs. The basic services to look for that these companies may provide are manuscript conversion into publishing-ready formats and access to one or more retail platforms. Some companies even offer a range of author solutions such as professional book editing and cover design, enhanced distribution, and marketing and promotional assistance.

But before you create your list, it’s important to know about the two main types of publishing service companies: retailers and aggregators.


A publishing company that sells books exclusively through its own retail store is classified as a retailer. Examples include Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and CreateSpace, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble’s Press, and Kobe. Some of these companies, however, have launched special programs and partnerships to distribute books to other retailers, e.g., CreateSpace’s Expanded Distribution program.


An aggregator not only offers a publishing and retailing platform for ebooks, but also distributes them to a number of partner online retailers and libraries. This helps authors get the widest possible reach, without having to format their book to each publisher’s guidelines and maintain multiple publisher accounts. Aggregators can also get ebooks into channels that authors cannot approach directly; e.g., Scribd, a digital library with a subscription service and more than 80 million users worldwide, does not accept ebooks directly from authors.


For their services, aggregators charge a 10% to 20% commission on sales, over and above the retailer’s own cut.

While the term “aggregator” applies to distributors of ebooks, “distributor” is used for companies that make print books available to brick-and-mortar stores, libraries, and academic institutions, e.g., IngramSpark. Some aggregators, like Lulu and Bookbaby, even distribute and retail print books. Given the degree of overlap and the essential similarity in what they do, both types can be referred to as “distributors.”

Think carefully about which self-publishing platform will work for you before jumping in.  Do your homework and watch your author credibility soar!

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