Digital Publishing Pros and Cons

Consider both publishing options for your next book

Digital Publishing Pros and ConsFor the past few years, there has been a great deal of press — and hence a great deal of excitement — about e-books.

Correspondingly, there is also significant debate about the relative merits of each option. The purists insist that the printed version is the way to go, nearly sacred. While the technologists say that e-books are where it’s at, declaring that paper is passé. Of course the diplomat insists that there is room for both.

The price of e-books spans a wide range, from free to matching their printed counterparts, so it is hard to know their true demand. After all if something is free or costs next to nothing, why not “buy” it.

Regardless of sales numbers, print is still driving the market. Author Annette Ehrhardt, in writing about e-book pricing strategies, once noted that, “It seems that many readers value the printed word more than the digital word.”

While there may be viable instances where a book should only be in digital form or only in print, the vast majority of books need to be in both.

However, if for some reason you can only do one, go with print. Readers will apparently value it more — and what they value, they will buy.

Which book format do you prefer to read? Why? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

A Consumer’s Thoughts About Book Pricing

As a consumer, the type of book and the form it’s in affects what I’m willing to pay. First, some background: I read both printed and e-books, having no overwhelming preference for one over the other; I like aspects of both and realize their limitations. The other item is for most of my adult life I’ve read nonfiction, only recently rediscovering the joy of fiction. Having said that, I do prefer to read fiction on my Kindle, while for nonfiction, I have a slight inclination for a printed copy. Here’s what that means:

  • I’m much more likely to buy a nonfiction book over a fiction book. I view nonfiction books as references, something I expect I’ll refer to later. I can highlight and make notes much easier on paper than in a device. The printed word provides a better means for me to learn and study, even though I greatly appreciate the search feature in e-books.
  • Next, I’m much more willing to buy a printed copy over an e-version. A printed book is tangible; an e-book is not. Something I can hold has value to me; something I can’t, doesn’t. Also, the production cost of an e-book is much less than a printed book, so it should be priced less. Plus, I’ve read many more shoddily produced e-books than printed books. So, I place far less value on e-books because I’m conditioned to expect lesser quality.
  • Combining these preferences, I’ll buy a printed copy of a nonfiction book, while I want a fiction book on my Kindle for free. I’m pained to admit this, but it’s true.

However, as a publisher and writer, I know all options cost money to produce and take time to do so. Without a revenue stream from the product, most writers will stop writing and all publishers will stop publishing. So, I’m working to change my attitude about buying books; I must be willing to pay and stop expecting something free.

If the current publishing model is to survive, consumers need to pay for the books they consume.

Four Ways to Stay Informed About Book Publishing

In the world of book publishing, if we blink, something’s apt to change. Every day there seems to be a new option, a different twist, or better pricing. The best solution for a particular situation soon yields to an even better answer – often within months or even weeks.

Publishing books becomes an art of aiming at a moving target, a goal that ebbs and flows at the pace of a changing tide. New vendors emerge and existing players develop innovations to target a different niche.

How’s a person to keep up?

Join Industry Associations: Groups of like-minded individuals offer the means to stay abreast of changing conditions. Members share news and ideas with each other. It’s an easy way to be informed, although merely joining a group isn’t enough; participation is required.

Read Blogs: Find and follow blogs, podcasts, and v-blogs of thought leaders and news aggregators. There’re plenty to choose from; pick ones with a voice you like and a perspective you respect. Ironically, reading books about publishing is not the answer; things change too quickly. Even e-books risk being out of date by the time they reach us.

Network: Connect with others. The goal is to listen and to share. Benefits abound when giving, even more so than when receiving.

Ask Questions: Requesting advice in a respectful way usually results in new information to consider. People enjoy it when we seek them out and usually offer their opinions to sincere questions. We honor them when we listen to what they say.

The key is to always be in a learning mode; don’t become complacent, thinking you’ve figured out all the answers. Never disregard a vendor or idea as not viable. In a moment it could become the exact solution we seek.