Print vs. EBook

February 23, 2012 

There is much speculation about the future of the printed book format; however, rumors of the death of the traditional business model have been greatly exaggerated.  An author considering self-publishing may wonder whether to initially publish in print or eReader format.  While going digitally may be the most economical obviously you want to consider both to reach a maximum readership.  Amazon eBook sales now exceed hardcover sales by a ratio of 1.43, and many of those sales are on the low end with downloads ranging from 25 to 99 cents.  The New York Times reports half of the books on its best seller list are given away for free on Kindle.  While eBooks publishing is a new frontier growing in increasing popularity the traditional format if far from extinct.  There are still minions of readers who will resist the eReader craze choosing to stick with traditional books and bookstores.

Publishing is a resilient industry adapting to the new challenges of the 21st Century.  It will not only survive the digital age but thrive.  There are new evolving best sellers’ lists catering to eBooks alone like the The Kindle Best Seller List and both the Wall Street Journal and USAToday have revamped their book coverage with eBook best seller lists presenting publishers with new challenges.  New book promotions no longer exclusively rely on securing media attention and popular print reviews.  The internet has opened up a whole new world for book promoters.

New cheaper opportunities in eBook marketing rely on book blogs, book blog tours, book clubs, and online magazine reviewers.  That’s not to say you should forego the print marketing business model.  In fact, meeting and mingling with your readers with book store signings and library and book club readings remain the best way to build a readership — word of mouth is the best form of advertising.  The independent publisher’s challenge is to create buzz around a new book.

Depending on preferences, some authors avoid public events while others thrive on the live audience.  The internet offers the best of both worlds in reaching a real and virtual audience.  The publishing industry has a history of meeting and overcoming challenges.  Past threats include the flood of the cut rate dime store paperbacks, as  well as the growth of lending libraries and book clubs selling inexpensive hardbacks.  The challenges met with industry resistance and the industry managed to adapt and make the best of it meeting consumer demand.  EBooks are yet another challenge.

The best writers take an active, entrepreneurial role in their book sales.  Publishing is filled with success stories that began as self-publishing miracles.  The independent publisher’s challenge is to mine the electronic frontier finding new ways to sell and market both print and eBooks.

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