What is KDP Expanded Distribution in 2021? [Solved]

What is KDP Expanded Distribution

Would you rather give up all technology (cell phones, computers, etc.) or give up all movies, television, and books?

You can’t have both…

That was the question I had to face when we were playing a game around the BBQ fire, late one evening.

I was one of the luckier people that night. As the alcohol started its coup of our conversations, the ‘would you rather’ game quickly escalated from innocent and silly to macabre and traumatizing! I will spare you the details because that which was read cannot be unread.

But let’s not digress! Technology or entertainment? What would you choose?

At this point, you might already be rolling your eyes and shrugging your shoulders. What is the relevance of this question to publishing on KDP? I promise I will get back to this point soon, but let’s just park that idea there for now.

Times changed and so did publishing. Unless you are completely new to writing, or you have been writing from your nuclear fallout shelter since the Cuban Missile Crisis (and this is your first access to news from the outside world), you probably already know you don’t need to go from publisher to publisher to get your book sold.

Self-publishing through online vendors is growing exponentially.

The most famous such platform is perhaps, 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!

Now would be the ideal time to revisit our ‘would you rather’ question. Would you rather have technology or entertainment? Similarly…

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 unlike with me at the BBQ, you don’t have to choose. With KDP Expanded distribution you can have both.

But as you may have learned from answering that email from the Prince of Kanitukwanda that promised you millions, sometimes not everything is as it seems. Let’s look at three important questions that you should ask yourself about KDP's expanded distribution.


1. What is KDP expanded distribution?

In case you just landed here, or your mind drifted toward the hot new employee at your local coffee shop, let me do a quick recap for you. KDP allows writers to publish directly onto the Amazon platform and gaining instant access to millions of potential buyers through the Amazon market. In addition, you also have the option to add the ‘expanded distribution’ option.

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 expanded distribution, which is explained in the following section.

Your Book on Store Shelves

How neat would it be to see you book on store shelves? This stock photo guy seems to love it 🙂


2. What is the difference between KDP and 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!

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

Remember this formula: Your asking price minus commission, minus the cost of printing, equals money in your pocket.

Let’s say that you are selling your book for $12.

Through the Amazon marketplace that would be $12 (Your asking price) -$4.80(commission) - $4.25 (printing) = $2.95 in your pocket.

Through Expanded Distribution, it is $12 (Your asking price) -$7.20(commission) - $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

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.


3. Do I need KDP Expanded distribution?

Well, to answer your question, allow me to share a brief snippet from my uneventful life.

I’m not a big fan of ketchup but I never say no to fast-food restaurants when they offer me ketchup with my meal. Although I will not eat it myself, I always have friends over that ask for ketchup and then I just pass sachets along to whoever needs it.

In essence, KDP’s expanded distribution works the same; you 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.


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 do not 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 this option? Please leave your comments in the section below to make this post more informative for your readers.

PS: What was the worst ‘would you rather’ question you ever heard? Please post it below if it is PG13, alternatively you can send your sick stuff directly via mail to us. We would love to hear from you!

About the author

Denis Caron

I help you build a loyal fanbase who enjoy and appreciate your books through 1-on-1 and group coaching. Learn more.

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