The Types of Book Distribution: Their Advantages and Disadvantages

When it comes to selling your book there is nothing more important than book distribution. True, the quality of your writing is also a big factor. But when it comes to book sales the book distribution aspect is the most important.

What is Book Distribution?

Book distribution is a process in book publishing. It is the process wherein the author’s books are distributed to the public. The book distribution process covers two types of books. The physical copy and the eBook copy.

Physical copy is the traditional book form wherein the book is printed in paper. From a book distribution standpoint physical copies are much more profitable. But it also has the downside of being harder to distribute. eBook Copies on the other hand are less profitable but is more versatile when it comes to distribution.

Types of Book Distribution

Print on Demand

This form of book distribution is a favorite of self-published authors. This is because there is no need to stockpile books. It entails books to be bought before they are printed.


  • There is no need to stockpile your work.
  • Your work is safer because it is in digital form.
  • There is less risk because you don’t need to invest large amounts of money to publish your book.


  • Inferior print quality
  • High print cost per book

Expanded Distribution

Expanded distribution is the traditional form of book distribution and entails the book to be printed beforehand. This allows the book to be stockpiled and sent to bookstores in bulk.


  • It is a better format for children’s books due to the good printing quality.
  • You can use offset printing which gives you the chance to print in larger qualities.


  • Higher expenses
  • Additional fees for added services
  • More risk of leftover books

Wholesale Book Distribution

This form of book distribution entails the distributor to sell your book to a wholesaler. Examples of these wholesalers are Ingram or Baker & Taylor. From here on out bookstores and other retailers can order books from the said wholesalers.


  • It provides easy access to products.
  • Easier access for small retailers to products they cannot acquire.


  • Internet growth may halt wholesale book distribution growth.

eBook Distribution

This form of book distribution is quite different to others. The eBook format does away with the old fashioned paper form and instead uses the digital form of your book. Which means you can use well known online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Apple to sell your book.


  • It eliminates the need for storage
  • It is in digital form which means it is safe from being destroyed physically.
  • You no longer have to print out copies of your work.


  • It is harder to market because not everyone has an eBook reader.
  • Not everyone is a fan of eBooks yet.

Examples of Book Distribution companies

Book distribution can be very pricey especially for self-published authors. Which is why you need to know what companies offer the best book distribution services. Here is a short list of book distribution companies and what they offer.


BCH is an Ingram and Baker & Taylor Distributor that focuses on Small Presses. It represents over 600 Small Press Publishers and handles their order fulfillment needs. BCH offers services that includes the shipping. invoicing, collecting, handling and warehousing of your books.

Publishers Group West

The Publishers Group West company specializes on book sales and distribution. It represents over 100 independent client publishers. It is a top-ten vendor to book retailers and provides client publishers with efficient and flexible distribution of their titles.


Ingram is the most influential and largest book distributor in the world. It provides publishers with much needed services with state of the art eBook and print on demand technologies. The Ingram company also helps you with access to infrastructure, knowledge, and innovative technologies that give you the best book distribution possible.

Perseus Distribution

This distribution company offers customized services to clients. The company caters to large scale publishers who want a distribution partner who can give them effective access to sales channels.

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