There's been ongoing discussion for years now in the publishing world concerning the validity of print books versus digital. The debate continues and remains fluid, but I rather like my guest's viewpoint. Why not enjoy a bit of both? Please join me in welcoming to the blog author Kellie Larsen Murphy!
However, with the steady growth in ebook sales, there is growing concern that the printed book will disappear. While I don't know the exact numbers of ebooks sold by Amazon so far this year, I do know that there are well over a million available. I know this because Amazon tells me every time I'm looking at a print version of a book. For a company like Amazon, digitally delivering the product is clearly more profitable than packing and shipping a physical item. It's no wonder the ebook is a favorite product.
Out of curiosity, I recently went to the website of a large publisher to see how they packaged or sold their ebooks. It came as a surprise to me that they didn't sell ebooks at all. You could purchase the hardcover version directly from the publisher but if you wanted the ebook version, you were directed to a list of 8 or 9 sellers including Amazon. I just couldn't understand this. The costs (minimal as they were) of producing that ebook had already been incurred. Why send your customers elsewhere? I do know, however, this is not true with all major publishers.
As a self-published author, I recognize the ease of e-publishing. A writer can use KDP exclusively or use Smashwords or employ a service to format their book. Either way, the process is relatively painless and within minutes after publishing, the book is available for sale. For the reader, hitting the "buy" button means you have a new book to read in minutes or seconds. Who doesn't love that? Of course, the popularity of ebooks is growing among readers and here's why:
· Instant gratification (mentioned above).
· No storage issues. You won't be on Hoarders because you have too many books.
· Lower costs. Even best sellers are significantly lower than their hardcover counterparts. I do find it more difficult to buy a $12.99 ebook, however, than to pay $23.95 for a hardcover I really want. Why is that?
· Easy to transport. It's easier to pack one Kindle on vacation vs. 5 paperbacks.
As an author, producing a digital version of your book is obviously a no-brainer. Yet, self-published authors still grapple with whether or not to publish a print version. Because I believe print books are not going away (at least not during the remainder of my lifetime), it wasn't a difficult decision for me. I love books and that includes printed books. Of course, like many other writers, I have a mother who would not be satisfied with showing all her friends the digital version.
The truth is, however, there are many practical reasons to publish in print:
· You can keep signed copies in your bag or car to distribute and expand your audience. Several friends read my book last year and then ordered copies for me to sign as gifts.
· Having a printed book lets authors participate in more book gathering events. In May, I will be participating in a "Celebrate With a Book" event that draws almost two dozen writers. Printed books are often necessary for conferences, too.
· Speaking at book clubs is a pleasure and while many readers will download your book, some book clubs prefer printed books.
· A printed book with a gorgeous cover (and the author's name in big bold letters!) is beautiful.
· Your local independent bookstore might be willing to let you launch your book or hold a book signing there. That counts as publicity.
· Nobody wants to get sand all over their Kindle, iPad, phone, etc. Sometimes print is the best option.
Although it's true that some famous authors have taken to advertising about saving printed books, the death of reading is not an issue. I know parents who have told me the Kindle and Nook are the reason their child is reading. The youth of today live in a digital world. They play games digitally, produce schoolwork digitally, and network digitally. Reading in a digital format is natural to them. The important thing is they are reading. And for me, that is really the point as a writer. Surely no writer of the past laments the death of tablets, or scrolls, or quill pens, or even the typewriter. The tools and instruments of publishing are only that.
The future of publishing as it exists today may be unknown, but reading is here to stay.
Many thanks, Kellie, for your insight into the realm of publishing. For additional information, please visit her website at www.kellielarsenmurphy.com It will sure be interesting to be a part of what the next ten years holds for authors and readers alike.
And speaking of readers, be sure and pick up a copy of Kellie Larsen Murphy's excellent book, A Guilty Mind. I'll be posting a review of it in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!