A common question among my Pick My Brain About Books clients is whether they should publish their book as a digital ebook or printed on good ol’ paper as a bound book.
We then spend time discussing their goals, timeline and budget to find the answer that fits them best, but I have a one-size-fits-all answer, too…
It’s all good, do what you want.
Seriously. Publish to either format or both, just get the words out, yeh? There are plenty of readers and piles of money on both sides of that fence.
I was reading Fortune on the decline of ebook sales in the UK and the decline of print book sales in the US and, on first glance, the key points were these—
People still read ebooks. Or at least they buy them. A lot of them. In the UK, although ebook sales dipped a bit for various reasons, they’re still talking £554m ($798 million) worth of digital reading with royalties paid to authors like you.
Amazon controls 65% of the ebook market. If your resources (time, money, energy, patience) are limited and you must choose just one ebook publishing arena from the many available — Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and more — it makes sense to choose the larger Kindle book market.
That said, don’t ignore the other 35% if you can manage it. The rest of the e-reader market — Apple’s iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, et. al. — use the same filetype (EPUB), so with only a bit more work you can gain a comprehensive reach.
Folks still read bound books. Or at least they buy them. Again, a lot of them — billions of dollars worth each year. Digital is a marvel but people still like the tangible, especially if the printed book offers a feature e-readers can’t handle, such as fine illustrations, exceptional photographs or a stellar design. Essentially, anything with a strong aesthetic appeal may be best served as a bound book.
So if your book isn’t suited to the digital format, that’s not a problem, you’re not missing out. In fact, you have a straight answer to what can be a complicated question. While others weigh the pros and cons of print, you can be assured it best serves your work and your readers.
If it helps: Some of my clients’ manuscripts have a workbook component, and they choose printed books or printable PDF ebooks to publish their work. Their books look great and work well.
Still have doubts about publishing on paper? Remember that coloring books for adults — both visually appealing AND a workbook — became insanely popular quite quickly. And while it seems to me their popularity has peaked, the interest in coloring continues. There’s not a lot of hype around it anymore, but there’s still a large and active following.
Whether to publish your work as an ebook or a print book is a critical question, but it doesn’t have to be a tricky one—
- Do both.
- If you must choose, consider what best serves your work, what best serves your readers, and publish your book that way.
- If you choose digital ebooks, consider publishing across all arenas.
- If you must choose one ebook arena, consider Amazon’s much larger Kindle market.
Into the world,
p.s. Still stuck on this question? Want some help? Schedule a Pick My Brain session with me and we’ll spend an hour+ clarifying your intention(s) for your book, exploring the available options available, and selecting what feels best to you.
Publishers Say E-Book Sales Fell in the U.K. Last Year — Fortune, 2016 May 13
Print books are far from dead. But they’re definitely on the decline — Fortune, 2015 Sep 24