What is KDP Expanded Distribution? 

Denis Caron
July 9, 2021

Although online publishing is as popular as ever for indie authors and first time writers, many authors still wish to have their books in physical stores. And that is where KDP expanded distribution comes into play.

Self-publishing through online vendors is still continuing to grow and the most famous platform is, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. Amazon is the biggest book retailer in the world and has over 33 million titles on offer. Even more astounding is the fact that they publish about 70 new e-books every hour!

KDP Print and KDP Expanded Distribution

Would you want to self-publish and sell your books to readers through a platform such as Amazon, OR would you rather have a third party sell it for you to big chains like Walmart, Target, B&N, and so on?

The good news is that  you don’t have to choose. With KDP Expanded distribution you can have both.

 Let’s look at three important questions that you should ask yourself about KDP's expanded distribution.

What is KDP expanded distribution?

What is kdp expanded distribution

In case you just landed here, let me do a quick recap for you.

KDP allows writers to publish directly onto the Amazon platform to gain instant access to millions of potential buyers through the Amazon market. In addition, you also have the option to add the ‘KDP expanded distribution’ option.

KDP Expanded Distribution is a free option where you relinquish rights to third-party vendors, to sell your books to other parties. These could include online retailers or brick-and-mortar shops. 

You could see your books on the racks of Barnes and Noble, Target or Walmart without ever having to lift a finger. 

There is an enormous difference in royalties between the Amazon marketplace and KDP expanded distribution, which is explained in the following section.

What is the difference between KDP and KDP expanded distribution?

The most prominent factor that stands out is the difference in royalties. KDP Expanded distribution demands more than the usual pound of flesh. Because of the difference in royalties, your profits are substantially lower.

On the expanded distribution option, you only receive 40% in royalties! Whereas selling through Amazon, gets you 60%.

Now let’s look at how that would influence your profits.

Remember this formula:

{Your asking price} * {your rate (60% or 40%)} - {the cost of printing} = money in your pocket.

Let's use an example. Let’s say that you're selling your book for $12 flat.

Through the Amazon marketplace that would be $12 {Your asking price}*(.60) - $4.25 (printing costs) = $2.95 in your pocket.

Through Expanded Distribution, it is $12 {Your asking price}*(.40)- $4.25 (printing) = $0.55 in your pocket.

If you hate math and skipped the explanations above, here is a summary for you:

  • Amazon KDP : Profit on a $12 book = $2.95
  • Expanded distribution : Profit on a $12 book = $0.55

*Printing costs differ with every book. Use this Printing Cost Calculator to get yours before you upload your book.


Real-world example of difference in rates

As you can see, there is quite a substantial difference in commission and sometimes this serves as a huge deterrent to people. There are other ways and means that you can still get your book out without using the convenient one-click expanded distribution option, but that requires a little more homework and we’ll discuss that in a subsequent article.

Another bummer is that your printing options are minimized for your book. Be incredibly careful and make sure that the printing design of your book meets the strict criteria of this option. For instance, customized trimming is not available anymore. You need to make sure that your book is the right size.

In addition to size, there are also fewer options to choose from when it comes to different papers. If you opted for white paper, you would only have 12 out of the usual 15 options to choose from. If you opted for cream paper, you would only have 4 out of the 15 options you had before and if you go full color, well, say goodbye to 8 options as you will now only have 7 out of the 15 options you had before.

Do I need KDP Expanded distribution?

In essence, KDP expanded distribution allows you to get another service for free that could benefit you later. If you do not have the time to study up shortcuts and loopholes, this option might be ideal for you. By clicking one box, you are opening many more distribution channels and possibly make sales in other markets you never would have made.

The biggest eyebrow-raiser however is the difference in royalties between the Amazon market and KDP Expanded distribution. Are you getting less money than you would for a sale in the Amazon marketplace? You bet, but it is also money you never would have had if you had not ticked that box.

Please remember that your margins on the Amazon marketplace will not change if you click on the expanded distribution option. They operate independently.

What I recommend

Unless you're actively promoting the paperback on B&N or other retailers, it's unlikely that you'll get many organic sales from these sources. This is further driven home by the fact that many of the sales for fiction books are digital. For most books we market, we see only about 2% of sales through actual physical copies.

Nonfiction on the other hand is closer to 10%-30%, depending on the genre.

I recommend is selecting it KDP Expanded distribution. As a first time author, focus on marketing your Amazon listing. And if you so happen to sell a book or two through the expanded channels, it's a bonus.


In conclusion…

Welcome to all of those that just landed here by scrolling straight to the bottom! Please allow me to summarize what I blabbed about in the section above so that you don't feel left out.

  1. Kindle Direct Publishing is well known to authors but there is uncertainty about the expanded distribution option. You can add this option for free when publishing a book and it will allow third parties such as Walmart and B&N to distribute your work, empowering you with the potential to generate extra income in other markets.
  2. If you want access to markets outside of the Amazon marketplace, you can add the expanded distribution option for free. The royalties you will receive are substantially less and the printing costs of third parties are also more expensive, decreasing your profits even more. You are also more restrained in design options for your book if you opt for this option.
  3. Nevertheless, every few cents that you get in are cents you would not have received otherwise. There are different ways to go about having the best of both worlds (higher royalties for expanded distribution) but that is up for discussion in a subsequent article.

Did we miss something? Would you opt for the KDP expanded distribution? Please leave your comments in the section below to make this post more informative for other readers.

About the author 

Denis Caron

Denis was a coach long before he ever knew what that was. From his time in the military, to the decade he spent as a 911 ambulance dispatcher, he constantly found himself in leadership and teaching roles (he knows his way around an emergency). And after struggling to self-publish his first book, he knew he could help others do it better.

Currently, Denis is traveling around Europe, exploring WWII sites and sampling all the delightful cuisine the continent has to offer.

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