E- and Print, That is the Question…

Dean Wesley Smith asks indie self-publishers to think about publishing their works in print. He reminds us that we’re ignoring 65-70% of the market (see shot #9), and has a cool graphic showing trends in book reading & buying.

Hey – I’m the first to admit that I love the feel and smell of a book in my hands. And there is nothing so thrilling as seeing your name on the cover (or in my case, in the tables of contents) of a real live book that you can hold. When one of my short stories appeared in print¹ in a mass-market edition back in the dark ages, er, the 90s, I went looking for it on the shelves. Did a little rearranging so the book cover faced out for passers-by to see. Ahem. 🙂 Opened up to the contents and stared at my name, sitting there along with Timothy Zahn and Michael A. Stackpole.

I’d decided to go electronic only with Keeping the Family Peace months ago when I’d heard of the expense involved in setting up print-on-demand services through Amazon. But last week, a colleague at work mentioned the DIY portion of CreateSpace. Guess what I’ll be investigating over the next couple months…

I know many people don’t own e-readers, but you can get Kindle for PC and Kindle for MAC – for free, folks – yes FREE – and read e-books on your computer. All right – I get it that you can’t curl up in bed with your computer but I do a darn good job of it with the Kindle app on my iPhone. And all one-handed! I’ve read more than 2 dozen books that way, including some that are 900+ pages.

So…e- and print? Smith’s argument is a bit too hard to ignore. But will a newbie novelist’s $4.99 e-book look more attractive to the buyer than a paperback priced a good bit higher? One writer commented on Dean’s blog that he produced both versions. He sold 3 copies of the print book – to relatives. 🙂

Dean tells me I’ll sell more books going E+P. Is he right? Oh my dear readers – which would you buy? I’ll be delighted to report sales of e- and print here and hope you can make them look halfway decent.²

Self-publishing indies out there – how are you handling this conundrum?

¹From a kind Amazon reviewer: “A Certain Point of View-this is the third-best story because of the severely melancholy tone. Read it in a house with all the lights off on a rainy Saturday afternoon for the best effect. Stalemate. Excellent.”

²Reminder: Keeping the Family Peace is in the red-lining hands of my editors at the moment as I mentioned a week or so ago. I’ll be working on final – yes, final – revisions in October and November, and hope to be sending you off to Amazon & other retailers in December for your e- or print copy.

  1. Catherine Hedge Avatar

    I’ll be watching the comments carefully…good debate! Thanks, Char

    1. Char Avatar

      You & me both, Cathy! Need to find the time to do more reading up on this subject. 🙂

  2. Jaime Avatar

    For the past year, I’ve only been buying e-books. Part of it is my lousy eyesight – you can adjust the text-size and line-height on a kindle (mine’s hacked to allow even more line-height editing.) It makes it so much easier for me to actually read books, and it’s opened up a lot of books I couldn’t normally read otherwise (the Hobbit, for example – every print version I’ve seen has had tiny, closely spaced text. :-/)

    Another is space. Most of the books I’ve bought, I read them and then they go onto a bookshelf where they stay… indefinitely (keeping in mind my local library is like something out of the 1950’s and incredibly underfunded. I either buy my books or find them for free online.) After a while, things just get cluttered up too much. Add in a problem with dampness as well, and the books just end up ruined after a while. So, if I did want to read something again, the book might not be there. At least with ebooks, those books are saved at amazon, so there’s no worries about losing them if something happens.

    Something else, too: e-books seem more ecologically friendly, since they can be read on low-powered devices that many people already own (and the storage space for even a long novel is still negligible.) There’s less energy used in the production of an e-book than a print book (in addition to no shipping, etc.)

    1. Char Avatar

      It’s wonderful to know that ereaders/ebooks open up reading and the enjoyment of a book to individuals who have poor eyesight. I buy very few print books – moving them around from house to house, state to state, was a heavy burden (no pun intended). So I donated almost everything except my Star Wars collection and some American history books that I wanted to keep for research purposes. (That’s project 4 or 5 on my current list of fiction writing.) And I work in a great library, but a library that has had to deal with old, damp, musty and moldy books – so keeping the print around is not always an option. YAY for ebooks!

  3. Marie Loughin Avatar
    Marie Loughin

    Keep in mind that people commenting here are going to be on the computer literate side and might be more like UF read an e-book than the general public. Plus you might be Ble to put your book in local bookstores if you have sprint version. Just a thought.

    1. Char Avatar

      Very true. What about you, Marie? Are you going to try the print route?

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