Learn About eBooks

eBook Distributors

Please see these other pages for information on eBook Retailers and Selling eBooks on Your Own Website.

There are a lot of options for eBook distribution out there. In your search for the best option, you will want to compare:

  1. the cost of the distribution (usually a percentage of each sale),
  2. the breadth of the distribution (does the company get your book up for sale on all of the stores?),
  3. the availability and quality of reporting tools,
  4. your ease and ability in changing the retail price (useful if you want to test the market some and see what price works best), and
  5. customer service.

bookbabyBookBaby provides eBook distribution to a variety of retailers. They take a fee of 15% of net profit, and their customer service is very good. Please note that:

  • they cannot currently distribute children’s eBooks to Barnes & Noble, and
  • if you want them to use your custom Kindle eBook file instead of submitting your ePub file to Amazon, you will need to let them know that and email the file to their support team.

Please see bookbaby.com/ebook-architects for more information.

ebookpartnershipThe eBook Partnership team works with authors and publishers to distribute eBook files of all types to an extensive network of retailers, and subscription services. See more information at www.ebookpartnership.com/ebookarchitects

Clients pay a set up fee, and receive 100% of royalties paid by the retailers. The client admin system shows comprehensive sales and royalty information, and payments are made monthly if there is over $30 in the client account.

Partner member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.

contentservicesFirebrand’s Content Services solution offers one-click digital distribution, whether you have direct agreements with eBook partners or are signed up for the Firebrand Digital Content Wholesale program. Best suited for those with an ongoing publishing program or at least 100 active titles, Content Services operates from within Firebrand’s flagship Title Management application, which allows you to quickly add new titles, upload digital files, and get them out into the marketplace. Content Services is also tied into Firebrand’s web fulfillment service, Direct2Reader, making it easy to further leverage your digital assets by selling direct to consumers. For more information, please visit www.firebrandtech.com/solutions or contact Steve Rutberg.

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Is it a good idea to put my Table of contents at the end of my eBook?

Some people do this to increase the size of the free samples automatically generated by the eBook retailers. However, the Kindle and other devices will re-set the “last read location” to the end of the book if you have your Table of Contents there, so we normally recommend against that practice.

What is the difference between HTML5 and XHTML5?

HTML5 is the latest version of the HTML standard used on the Web and in eBooks. XHTML5 is a stricter and cleaner version of HTML5, with rules from XML imposed on the code. For example, when a tag is opened it has to be closed, and all of the tags have to be properly nested. XHTML5 allows the code to be more easily interpreted by the display engine, and it keeps the code more consistent and easier to edit.

I have heard you can’t use color in eBooks. Is that correct?

No, that is absolutely incorrect. eBooks look great with color, and we highly recommend using color images and even colored text (within reason) in your eBook files. Some devices have grayscale eInk screens, so the color will not show up on those devices. However, the color will be in the file, and it will work on all of the color devices. We do recommend you test colored text on a device with an eInk screen and ensure that the text will not be too light to read.

Do you need to have a separate ISBN for each version of the eBook for different companies?

Technically, yes. See an extended answer on our ISBNs page.

What is KindleGen?

KindleGen is Amazon’s eBook creation/compiling program. It is used on the KDP website to auto-convert files uploaded into the Kindle store, and it is also integrated into the Kindle Previewer program to handle the conversion of non-Kindle files loaded in that program. You can download KindleGen and get access to other Kindle creation information at amazon.com/kindlepublishing.

What is a fixed layout eBook?

Fixed Layout eBooks are HTML-based eBook files that are usually designed to match the layout of a print book. The key difference between fixed layout files and reflowable files is that reflowable eBooks allow the reader to have more control over the reading experience, such as changing the font size, background color, etc. For more information, please see our Fixed Layout Children’s and Non-Fiction pages.

Does Amazon sell HTML files or only Kindle?

Amazon only sells eBooks in the Kindle format, but that format, just like ePub, is built using HTML and CSS files.

How is fixed layout different from a pdf of the book?

Fixed layout eBooks are built using HTML, so they have more functionality than PDF files. For example, the narration overlay functionality used in many children’s eBooks is not possible in PDF files. In addition, none of the eBook retailers sell PDFs, so fixed layout eBook files offer the best sales opportunities.

A university librarian told me they are not acquiring any Kindle books but only HTML5/ePub. Have you found that to be common with other libraries? I know our local public library does buy Kindle books.

Libraries acquire their eBooks from services like 3M and Overdrive. These services sometimes offer an option for Kindle checkouts, but typically they are limited to ePub files because of the more common use of the Adobe DRM.

Has the Kindle format gotten any more sophisticated in how it handles tables or floating images?

Yes, Amazon’s Kindle Format 8 has support for many great design features, including floating images, tables, color text, embedded fonts, and more.

How are page numbers handled in an eBook?

Print book page numbers are included in the HTML code of both the Kindle and ePub formats as anchors. They are also listed in the PageList section of the NCX or Navigation file. The PageList is used by some reading systems (like the Kindle and iBooks) to show the reader the print page numbers of the book as they read.

How are page headers created in eBook files?

The different reading systems control what shows up in the header of your eBook. Most will display the title of the book, and some will also display the author name. That text cannot currently be set to display the chapter name or other information about where the reader is currently reading in the text.

How do eBooks handle hyphenation of long words?

Some eBook reading systems will apply hyphenation to longer words to make the text better fit on the screen. This is typically controlled by the reading system, and will change depending on the font size and other settings the reader has set on their device.

What about protecting the file?

eBook file protection is called Digital Rights Management (DRM). Please see our DRM page for information on how it works and suggestions on how to use it.

Can I sell my eBooks on my own website?

Yes! You are certainly able to sell your eBooks on your own website. For more information, please see this page.