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What is a Trade Discount, and How Does it Work?

Marketing and Distribution

A trade discount is the percentage of a book’s retail price that a retailer (e.g., Barnes & Noble or Amazon) or wholesaler (e.g., Baker & Taylor or Ingram) earns from the sale of an author’s book in exchange for distributing the book.

This article pertains to print books (pBooks) only. To understand trade discounts and royalties for eBooks, go to Calculating eBook Royalties.

Here are the trade discounts when selling through online retailers:

Online Retailer Trade Discount
Amazon 40%
Barnes & Noble 45%
Expanded Distribution (Other) 60%

For every pBook sold through Amazon, CreateSpace takes 40% of the retail price. Similarly, when your pBook is sold through Barnes & Noble online (, NOOK Press takes 45% of the retail price. Your pBook can also be listed through Expanded Distribution, in which case CreateSpace takes 60% of the retail price for every pBook sold.

In addition to listing your pBook through Amazon and, we also send your pBook to Ingram’s catalogue to be sold through brick-and-mortar stores.

For pBooks sent through Ingram’s catalogue to brick-and-mortar stores, a 55% trade discount is standard. With anything lower than that, retailers won’t stand to make much profit on the pBook. Therefore, they won’t have much incentive to carry your pBook. Ingram, for instance, offers the option for a lower trade discount, but that option isn’t recommended.

Please note that selling your pBook through brick-and-mortar stores—with the difficulty of getting shelf space, the costs associated with that, and other complications—is unlikely. To learn more about listing your pBook in Ingram’s catalogue to be sold through brick-and-mortar stores, see Wholesale Vs Retail.