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How do Smashwords, Bookbaby, Lulu and Bibliocore Compare?

30 October 2011

Note this was created in July, 2011. Passive Guy hasn’t checked to see if things have changed with the aggregators since then.

From  Publish Your Own Ebooks:

In some cases instead of publishing directly to an ebook store you might choose to publish via an ebook “aggregator”.

What is an Ebook Aggregator?

An ebook aggregator deals with ebook authors directly and interfaces between them and ebook retailers such as Apple and Sony.

The ebook aggregator may offer other services besides distribution, for example ebook design and formatting services.

Link to the rest, including the footnotes, at Publish Your Own Ebooks

Self-Publishing Strategies

12 Comments to “How do Smashwords, Bookbaby, Lulu and Bibliocore Compare?”

  1. That would appear to be why so many indepent authors do their own Amazon ebook. Followed by piping the rest through smashwords. Either way they are taking a % of the book sale. Well more if you count that say apple (at random) is taking its agent cut off the top first.

    But that would also explain why so many people also only tend to track their Amazon sales directly. They can look at the revenue streams comming in and if one is 10x more than the next, they know where they are making sales. Well provided that they factor in the delay timer into the slow pipeline.


  2. I believe Smashwords does distribute on Kindle. In their formatting guide, they specify that properly formatted ebooks will be available for users of Amazon’s Kindle. Does anyone know otherwise? It is interesting to think about whether or not the flat rate would be better than paying a percentage. It’s impossible to calculate a break-even point until after the fact.

    • Raymond – They may mean that if you include a Kindle format, someone can buy the book on Smashwords and load it onto their Kindle.

      • Yes, Smashwords does offer books in the Kindle format. Idon’t think too many consumers are much aware of Smashwords yet, though. Maybe that will change.

        Thanks for this information and the link, PG.

        • Smashwords doesn’t have an agreement to supply Kindle formatted books to Amazon at this time. They have been working on an agreement for a long time. You can buy Kindle formatted books from Smashwords just as Passive Guy stated. You can take your Smashwords formatted bookblock and remove the reference in the version matter that states the book is formatted for Smashwords. The same file will work at Amazon if you upload it yourself.

    • Smashwords has a deal with Amazon, but no ebooks have been sent to Amazon yet for some reason. No ability to multiple upload? Something technical.

      Also, Smashwords has wrangled agreements that most of their partners won’t discount. Not sure if Amazon agreed to that or not.

  3. The fact that ‘Kobo’ is yes on Smashwords and no on the rest is the dealmaker. I sell so many short stories (via Smashwords) on Kobo. It outstrips every other market for short stories, but not for books & collections. (I have no idea why, but am not complaining.)

    Re: Smashwords to Amazon, as far as I know they’re in negotiation and ‘meatgrinder upgrades’ and whatnot. Who knows. In any case, I prefer to deal with Amazon KDP and B&N Pubit! myself directly for books, because I can make better formatting on my own for MOBI and EPUB. So I’d opt out even if Smashwords worked out whatever deal they need to work out.

    I made a business blog post earlier this week, which relates re: Smashwords:

    • Not to mention that if you use Smashwords as a go between for Amazon and B&N, thats one more hand taking a slice of the pie. Also, that the more places your money stops along the way, the longer it takes in getting to you.

      • The B&N/Smashwords is a little more nuanced than just “one more hand,” though. If you have something below a certain price-point, you make more money going through Smashwords! (So 99c short stories should go through B&N to make about 60c of them, even with both B&N and Smashwords taking a cut. Through B&N, you get only about 30-40c, as I recall.(

        Above the price-point cutoff, you make slightly more from B&N directly, but may wish to keep going through Smashwords to aggregate the money in one account; if you don’t sell a lot via B&N, but do better through Smashwords, those sales could sit below-threshhold for cutting a check (or transferring to PayPal) at B&N for some time.

        If you do sell a lot through B&N and not so much via Smashwords, or if you don’t go under the price-point, then going through PubIt directly may be more advantageous. (So far, I’ve only got short stories for 99c, and benefit from going through Smashwords.)

        • I agree for individual short stories at 99c. The convenience of the interface and the (slightly) better royalty, not to mention not having to track hundreds of short stories across ten sites, is worth the Smashwords 10%.

          For books and collections at $2.99 and above, I prefer going direct.

  4. I find myself wondering why on earth anyone would go for Bibliocore over Book Baby. Less distribution, more cost, and they hang onto your money far longer. Is the job they do that much better for apple products?

  5. Book Baby offers superior customer service and is very reasonably priced. Their cover design service is excellent. I will continue to use them. I also use Smashwords, as it covers a wide range of other formats, but may drop that in the future.

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