The form that a published book takes doesn’t matter as much as many people think
Publishers, authors, and readers each approach the print versus digital debate from different perspectives. Among these three points of view exist an array of opinions. Consider:
Publishers are in business to make money. Never forget that. They aren’t philanthropists, seeking to advance authors’ work or serve the common good (though both are laudable secondary goals). They can make money in print or with e-books. While the outcome is not guaranteed, the potential for profit is there. Some focus on the printed word and others, electronic output, while most do both. For them, print versus e-book becomes a strategic decision with a financial outcome.
Authors often enjoy the tangible feeling of holding a book, their book, in their hands. For them, there’s an emotional attachment to the printed word. As such, they may view e-books as a second-rate, unacceptable alternative. However, the underlying desire of authors is to have their words read. So does it really matter if it’s on paper or through a device? Like publishers, authors also want to earn money for their work. Each medium offers the opportunity to do that.
Readers may be the most passionate in their opinions about print and electronic reading. I use both, and I enjoy both. So do many readers, though some insist on a book and others will only use a device.
The Print Versus Digital Debate Will Continue
As long as the public consumes books both ways—which, I suspect will be for years to come—the print versus digital publishing debate will remain unresolved. And, I’m okay with that.
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.