5 Ways Canadian Businesses Distribute Their Ebooks

Recent events have taught us how important it is to have diverse sources of revenue, and a marketing strategy that’s able to pivot with a moment’s notice. Most obvious is the need to use the internet for sales & marketing, but online opportunities go well beyond that. One of those opportunities comes with self-published information products.

Information products like ebooks are more popular than ever. As a business tool, ebooks can be used as a revenue stream, branding tool, inbound marketing tool, engagement method, and to establish your high level of expertise.

How to Distribute Your Business Ebook

Once you’ve finished an ebook, you’ll need to find ways to get it into the hands of consumers. How you do that will be determined by what kind of ebook you’re offering and what the primary desired outcome is. A full-length ebook could be sold using any of the below methods, while smaller ebooks are often used to entice visitors to take action (such as signing up for your newsletter).

Following are the most popular ways small business publishers distribute their ebooks.

1. Ebook Distribution Platforms

Canadian ebooks are sold through a number of online book stores. The most popular in Canada are Amazon (64%), Kobo (64%), Apple/iBooks (60%) and Barnes & Noble (52%), according to recent data from Booknet Canada.

Ebook Distribution Marketplaces

  1. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is the most famous place for authors to publish their ebooks. You can have your ebook listed in minutes.
  2. Chapters Indigo lists ebooks via the Kobo eReader. Head to Kobo Writing Life to get started. Once your book is on Kobo, it will be offered on the Chapters Indigo website.
  3. Apple iBooks submission guidelines take you through the process of creating and submitting an ebook on the platform.
  4. Barnes & Noble (Nook eReader) provides their submission guidelines on their website.

The popularity of these platforms directly reflects their popularity among Canadian ebook readers. According to the 2020 Canadian Leisure and Reading Study, Canadian readers purchase most of their ebooks through an online retailer.

The most popular eReading apps were:

  1. Amazon Kindle (33%)
  2. Kobo (23%)
  3. Internet browsers (19%)
  4. Apple Books (16%)
  5. Google Books (15%)
  6. OverDrive/Libby (14%)
  7. Hoopla (4%)

2. Website Download

If you’re selling your ebooks as a source of revenue, your website can offer them as a digital download. The easiest way to set that up is with an ecommerce platform that is designed for digital downloads. Read the Top 6 Ecommerce Platforms for Digital Product Downloads for suggestions. You can also create landing pages with a tool like Thrive Themes Funnels, which can increase sales and facilitate targeted marketing campaigns. The Systeme suite of tools has a free level that includes a website builder, funnels, email list, affiliate program management, memberships & more.

3. Email

Email is an option to deliver short ebooks. It’s often used for free ebooks offered for joining an email list. If the ebook file is too large for email delivery, you can still use email to deliver a link to the download. Sales funnels often include ebooks too, free or otherwise. Familiarize yourself with CASL to ensure your email practices are in full compliance with Canada’s anti-spam laws.

4. Public Libraries

Public Libraries are an excellent place to distribute full-length ebooks, and 90 percent of Canadian authors do so. You’ll benefit from the exposure, but it can also generate revenue.

If you want to sell your book to public libraries & schools, the most popular library service/wholesaler in Canada is Overdrive (76%), followed by Baker & Taylor/Blio (61%). There are also programs that pay authors who have their books in libraries. For example, The Public Lending Right (PLR) Program sends yearly payments to creators whose works are in Canada’s public libraries.  Additionally, affiliate links can be used in ebook content to generate revenue.

5. Outsourced Ebook Distribution

There is a learning curve for all methods of distribution, but many small businesses and authors learn how to do it themselves. If that’s not for you, there are experts online who can manage your ebook distribution.

Outsourced distribution is often used by authors of traditional, full-length books. If you have the budget to use outsourced publishing services, distribution will be more automated. For example, your finished ebook could be automatically submitted to major platforms like Amazon.

Outsourced services may also include:

  • Book formatting or templates
  • Editing
  • Cover design

BookBaby, for example, offers publishing and distribution services for both digital and print-on-demand books, as well as a sales platform of its own. I’ve worked with a couple of Canadian authors who used BookBaby for production, publishing and distribution. It was a logical choice for them, so they could be published professionally in record time and with far fewer headaches.

BONUS TIP: If you’re publishing ebooks in a standard author scenario, you’ll probably need an ISBN number. An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies each specific edition of a book. As a Canadian self-publisher, you can apply to obtain a free ISBN number through the ISBN Canada online system. For more information about ISBNs in Canada, visit Library and Archives Canada.

Sixty-two percent of Canadian ebook authors expect their ebook sales to increase in the coming year, based on consistent growth. It’s a solid marketing strategy and a proven stream of income for a wide range of business types.

How will you distribute your business ebook in Canada? Please share your comments below or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.


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Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website | + posts

Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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I can’t believe I didn’t think of libraries but I guess I think they’re more into paper. I forgot all about Chapters too. Maybe I’m not as ready for this as I thought! I’m having fun learning it all but it never ends. My first ebook is almost ready to publish and I’m SO EXCITED!!!