Amazons Expanded Distribution... Worthwhile Or Distracting?
Posted On: 2014-02-19
by: Mercedes Tabano

19, 2014
Amazon's recent decision to make Expanded Distribution available to all their publishers made the news. Prior to this decision, it cost $25 for Expanded Distribution. However, will this prove to be a boon to indie authors or just a weird distraction?

How Does Expanded Distribution Work?

Surprising, even though it's free, you still need to check a box saying you want it. Once the box is checked, it will ask you for an ISBN number. Then it will create a barcode for you and places it on your book. Now that your book has a real scannable barcode, it goes into a special catalog. This catalog is what libraries, bookstores and other retail stores use to order their books.

Though you are in this catalog with hundreds of other books, there is far less competition for attention then on Amazon itself. This ensures that eventually your book will be chosen for these off-line outlets. This helps build your name, possibly sell hundreds, if not thousands of additional books, and lend credibility to the fact that you are real author. Unfortunately, as with anything that sounds too good to be true, there are drawbacks...

Hidden Costs

Because your book is now available for libraries and bookstores, it will need a real ISBN number. You can buy these from Bowker directly. It's always best to buy ISBNs in bulk because while a single ISBN is $125, a ten-pack is only $250. This covers the next 10 books you decide to make available for Expanded Distribution. You can also republish your existing CreateSpace book with a new ISBN.

The biggest drawback of Expanded Distribution is how low your royalty becomes; for a $12 book with a $2.94 royalty on CreateSpace/Amazon Channels, the royalty is around .34 cents on Expanded Distribution. Yes, it drops that much.

Many indie authors new to the self-publishing world make the mistake of pricing their print books too low. When this happens, they end up losing money on every Expanded Distribution sale.

Questionable Quality

Another complaint often heard with Expanded Distribution is the quality of the books. Expanded Distribution books are not published by CreateSpace; they use third party publishers, i.e.: subcontractors. While many of the books are good, there have been reports made that these books are of lesser quality.

Among the top complaints are wrong trim sizes, different colors, and lesser quality paper. This might not matter if your book is a novel, but it becomes a serious issue with a novelty book.

So is Amazon Expanded Distribution worth it? The answer is it depends on what you are hoping to get out of it. To make Expanded Distribution truly pay off, you'll need name recognition that results in hundreds of sales. It takes at least six books in the same genre and by the same author to build up this kind of recognition. In some cases it might take even more books.

It's also a good idea to stick to industry standard sizes to insure that Amazon's subcontractors create a professional looking book. It's still unknown as to whether or not novelty books do well in Expanded Distribution. As time goes on and hard figures become available, we'll be able to see if Amazon Expanded Distribution benefits novelty books or not.

Now that Expanded Distribution is free, this could be a good part of your long term publishing empire strategy. Of course, if you don't' care about bookstores, you could skip it entirely.

Until Next Time,
Mercedes Tabano