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Selling eBooks – How to publish your eBook with the Big Three retailers (Part 1).

This two-part article explains how as a self-published author or small publishing house you can sell your eBook via the biggest eBook retailers. We also take a quick look at ISBN and ITIN requirements for the different publishers.

Sell your eBook on Amazon, Apple and B&NAmazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble are the Big Three eBook retailers—although if you add their claimed market shares together you get 120%, and that is before you even take Kobo/Borders, Lulu, Waterstone’s, and Tesco into account—and as a self-published author or publisher looking to give your eBook the best possible chance of success, then publishing on these key retailers is essential.

Before we look at what is involved with getting your eBook published on the Big Three, it is worth clarifying two areas that can cause quite a lot of confusion, especially for authors and publishers based outside the US; ISBN numbers and ITIN numbers.

Do you need an ISBN Number?

In regards to Amazon, Apple and B&N this is straightforward:

  • To publish an eBook on Amazon you do NOT need an ISBN
  • To publish an eBook on B&N you do NOT need an ISBN
  • To publish an eBook on Apple’s iBookstore you DO need an ISBN

If you do have an ISBN you can enter the details on both Amazon and B&N but it is not compulsory.

Do you need an ITIN number?

To set-up seller accounts with both Apple and B&N you will need a valid US Tax reference. If you are UK-based you will need to go through the process of applying for an ITIN number or use an intermediary such as eBookPartnership.com who already have seller accounts with the specific retailers.

You can set-up an Amazon DTP account without a US Tax reference or ITIN number but this may increase the amount of tax you pay on any sales revenue generated from your eBooks.

Find out more details by reading Do I need an ITIN number?

Now we’ll detail how you can sell your eBook through the three retailers that sell more eBooks than any others.

How to sell an eBook on Amazon

Publishing your eBook on Amazon, who claim between 70% and 80% of the eBook market, is relatively straightforward and you can read a detailed look at selling your eBook on Amazon using Amazon DTP. The steps involved are:

  1. Create a Kindle Direct Publishing account (formerly called Amazon DTP)
  2. Enter details of your eBook
  3. Upload your eBook cover and your correctly formatted content document
  4. Select your Royalty option (35% or 70% dependent upon the RRP of your eBook) and the set the selling price
  5. Publish (after 24-48 hours approval process)

Once you have published your eBook on Amazon, you can manage your listing by logging into the DTP service. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is a pretty user-friendly system and also has links to lots of advice forums and tech help.

Tomorrow we’ll conclude the article with a look at how you can publish your eBook on B&N using PubIt! and how you can sell your eBook via Apple’s iBookstore.


  1. Quora says:

    Can an amateur author make their book available online for download to the Kindle and the Nook?…

    If you have the time, you can definitely learn how to master all of the technical aspects (we always recommend Liz Castro’s excellent book for anyone considering tackling ePub files). Knowledge of html will help enormously, particularly if you have im…