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New eBook Distributor Distee Launches Flat-fee Model

Most distee logoebook distributors, whether it’s Draft2Digital, PigeonLab, EpubDirect, Smashwords, or Bookbaby, charge a commission on the sales of the ebook titles they distribute, and the amount they earn goes up as sales increase.

Distee, a new distributor which launching this week, takes a different approach.

This firm is offering to distribute an author’s ebooks to major ebookstores in exchange for a flat monthly fee. They’re charging just £6.99 per book, per month to distribute to "Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Kobo, Sony, Google, WHSmith" as well as other ebookstores.

In addition to the low fee, Distee also promises monthly payments, fast updates, and a sales analytics platform which will let authors track their sales by channel.

Distee is promising that their cost structure is better for any publisher or author who earn more than £80 per month per title, and they could be correct. Draft2Digital, for example, takes a 10% commission on the retail price. It wouldn’t take more than a few dozen sales of even cheap ebooks before Distee’s deal starts paying for itself.

As the global ebook market continues to grow, ebook distributions will become an increasingly competitive market as new startups appear and try to attract customers. This is potentially a great opportunity for authors and publishers to lower their costs, but it does also come with some risk.

The downside of a competitive market is that some competitors will lose, and if (when) they go out of business they could take their customers' content and earnings with them. Authors need to be aware of the risks, and be prepared for the worst that could happen.


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Olympia Press April 9, 2014 um 12:59 pm

Pigeonlab actually also wants $99 up front per ebook as well as 10%, so they’re not long for this world.

You’re absolutely right on the last point, it’s better to spread content around…

Nate Hoffelder April 9, 2014 um 1:21 pm

I saw that, yes. There are better deals, I agree.

Matt Bradbeer April 22, 2014 um 7:54 am

Definitely good to spread the content around, which is why we have spent the last 5 years building up one of the largest global distribution networks available.

Also worth mentioning that Distee is a distribution platform for publishers only and we do not work with authors directly.

Furthermore, we work off a 10% of net sales up to a maximum of £6.99 per month model; £6.99 being the most a publisher would ever pay per eBook.

We think this is a slightly different way of doing things and initial feedback from the London Book Fair and subsequent meetings is that we are offering a good alternative to the no-limit percentage based deals.

Ebook Bargains UK April 23, 2014 um 10:27 am

Matt, how do you define a "publisher" in this context?

There are any number of authors with a dozen or more quality titles (often rights reverted that have previously been "validated" by a publisher) and any number of micro-press publishers with a handful of titles but that can legitimately call themselves publishers.

Will you be allowing aggregators access?

Matt Bradbeer April 23, 2014 um 11:03 am

Really good question. All of our conversations have been with what would usually be termed "established" or "traditional" publishers. There are micro-press publishers in that mix as well as larger players. This is a B2B platform.

I agree that there are lots of authors who have been "validated" by a publisher and even more authors who are just as great that have not had this "validation".

T Elis April 9, 2014 um 2:19 pm

A fixed percentage is fine as long as you are receiving incremental benefit as your revenue climbs. Distee looks like the future to me

Andres April 10, 2014 um 12:35 am

I was once contacted to help on a website that had a very similar payment structure like Distee. Our conclusion was that it was unfeasible on the long wrong, mainly because it was betting against the client. Those that lost money (earned below a point x in money) would be subsidizing those earning money. The bigger the gap between the big earners and the medium point, the more people losing money you’d need.

There might be some key differences I’m not aware of, but it seems like a risky (and unhealthy) proposition.

Matt Bradbeer April 22, 2014 um 7:57 am

Good point Andres, which is why we operate a 10% up to £6.99 model. It wouldn’t make sense to smaller publishing houses or presses where some of their back catalogue would lose money at £6.99 per month.

Diana Horner April 10, 2014 um 9:05 am


eBook Partnership has been distributing eBooks for four years now (which makes us veterans in this business!), and we have learned a few things in that time.

We do have a flat rate for eBook distribution authors, and for publishers with 5 or more titles this is £29/$40 per title per year. Set up fee is £75/$99 if you have 1-4 titles and you then pay £29/$40 per year after 12 months. We also pay 100% of royalties, and we pay monthly.

Andres makes a very good point, longevity will prove to be one of the most important factors for authors and publishers who submit their eBook files to the retailers via a distribution service. If you wish to change your distribution plans for any reason, it could well be the case that you lose any reviews, and sales ranking gained, when you upload via a different account.

There should be no reason for eBook distributors to demand exclusivity; many of our clients upload their own eBook files to Amazon and Apple for example and then use us for the harder to reach distribution partners (like Overdrive). Some ask us to manage all retailer uploads, as they like to be able to see all of their eBook sales and royalty information in one place on our client admin system.

My advice to authors and publishers is always to shop around before committing to anything. See which company will give you the greatest opportunities to reach a worldwide audience, with flexibility and transparency.

Ebook Bargains UK April 21, 2014 um 5:59 am

All the feedback we have is that Ebook Partnership (ref Diana Horner, comments above) is the best option for professional indies looking to get maximum distribution and revenue.

Distee’s list is:

Barnes & Noble (US and UK)
and many, many more around the world…

Having checked with authors using Ebook Partnership it seems EP cover all these except Fishpond and Bookshout. It appears they used to get titles into Fishpond, but no longer do. They do however get titles into the Sony AU and EU stores, the twenty 'txtr stores, JB Hi-F and Big W in Australia, Exclus1ves in South Africa, Hive in the UK, all the Tolino Alliance stores and some of the Ciando stores in Germany, Donauland in Austria, and a host of others.

Diana, we’d love to know if you have plans on adding Bookshout to your list (the customer data makes them a very exciting prospect).

We’d also love to know if you have plans for Oyster, Flipkart and eSentral, where Bookbaby has the advantage over you.

And what chance you can get indie titles in the key UK stores W H Smith, Tesco Blinkbox and Sainsbury? We’ve had indications Blinkbox and Sainsbury may be partnering with Gardners, but nothing concrete. W H Smith of course banned all indies via Kobo but we’re still seeing small publishers get titles in).

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