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.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.