I would like to be able to sell my text book to my students in e-book format. I know there is the kindle store that takes 65% of the sales price, which is in my eyes too much. Are there any e-book stores for teachers and professors that provide their service for a fair price?

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    Sorry, just a hit and run comment - someone else is welcome to take this and turn it into an answer: lulu.com - 20% commission. More at ebookpartnership.com/ebook-retailers
    – 410 gone
    Dec 26, 2013 at 8:30
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    Why not just post a PDF on your web page?
    – JeffE
    Dec 26, 2013 at 13:28
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    @earthling No, of course not. Who on earth would buy a book without being able to read it first? That's just silly! (Ha ha only serious.)
    – JeffE
    Dec 26, 2013 at 19:56
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    I'm suggesting giving the PDF away for free, but selling the dead-tree version as usual. (I'm probably in the minority, but I think it's unethical to require your students to buy your book.)
    – JeffE
    Dec 27, 2013 at 1:19
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    To address the ethical issues many people have raised, I've asked this new question: Is it ethical to profit by having my students buy my textbook? Dec 28, 2013 at 6:47

4 Answers 4


Fairness is a difficult question to answer. You need to ask fair to who: the publisher, the author, or the students. Publishers provide a number of services (e.g., editing, typesetting, printing, and marketing). It is fair for them to get paid for their efforts. Obviously it is fair for authors to get paid for writing. It is also fair to expect students to pay for high quality learning materials.

The question then becomes what is a fair price to charge students and how much of that should go to the publisher. The fees charged by many publishers depend on the number of copies sold since they have some fixed costs that they need to recoup and some costs that scale with the number of copies sold. If you think the service being offered by the publisher is unfair, you can always self-publish and do the editing and marketing yourself.

As for the selling price, this really depends on the quality of the book relative to other similar books. That said, in my opinion selling your book to students in your class is unethical since the students are already paying for the teaching material indirectly through tuition and fees. I don't think of it as being different from selling lecture slides, notes, and exam keys and in the limit if you just want to make money from your students you could just sell grades.

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    While I kind of agree that selling text books to students is not very nice, the OP came here with a question, not a need for moral judgement.
    – xLeitix
    Dec 27, 2013 at 11:18
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    @Did not only is it "legal" it is also common and even encouraged by publishers and departments (at least for paper books).
    – StrongBad
    Dec 27, 2013 at 12:09
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    Daniel: We are talking about teachers forcing their students to buy a book they authored, right? That publishers would encourage such practices is only natural since they exist to make money (but I fail to see why publishers should decide what is the required material for a given course). That some (university) departments would allow it (and you even said, encourage) is a different matter.
    – Did
    Dec 27, 2013 at 12:17
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    @eykanal potentially it is not an answer and likely it is deserving of down votes. I find the behaviour distasteful enough that I could not hold my tongue. As it stands now, somewhat surprisingly, the answer has more up votes than down votes, so at least a portion of the community agrees with me. I may try and rewrite it in a less condescending manner.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 27, 2013 at 19:37
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    @eykanal I think it is an answer to the extent it is saying "You are asking the wrong question." In that way, I believe it has value. That said, I do hope it will get toned down a bit.
    – earthling
    Dec 28, 2013 at 13:42

The rate charged by the vendor depends on the price: the 65% rate usually applies to books costing more than $15 or so. Below the threshold amazon charges 30%. Apple's iBooks charge 30% for all prices, and so provides a cheaper option with a similar service, as long as everyone uses the apple's proprietary hardware.

Personally I would reconsider your pricing to a more reasonable level. As self publisher you get a much larger slice of the profits, and in my opinion academic textbooks are priced excessively. If you cannot give the book away as others have suggested, then the other factor is that a low price would encourage more students to buy outright rather than share, and you also remove the second hand market, thus having many more actual sales. With this model students pay less to learn and you probably earn more money, and in a sense everybody wins.


I recommend Amazon for you. I wrote 4 books which are on Amazon and also have e-book versions of them. On Amazon, you can choose the price/royalties for each book as well.

You can use Calibre to make your PDF, ePub files. Then you can just upload all in a very quick way.

Hope it helps


How about avoiding technology and web-stores - you probably have a very local bookstore selling textbooks, maybe even an in-house store of your university. Go to them and ask them to sell your book; they know how to do that, students are used to them, and they don't charge 65%.

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