Paperback vs. E-book

Which is preferable?

Ever since my first novel was published, I’ve faced the issue of paperback vs. e-book. Some people sneered when they found out my book could not be purchased through Barnes & Noble or another large book retailer. As far as they were concerned, that meant I wasn’t really published.

Well here are my thoughts, for whatever that’s worth…

E-books are coming a long way.  If you check out some of the larger e-book stores like Books on Board, Bookstrand, Fictionwise, Kindle, and All Romance Ebooks, you will see that the larger publishers are starting to sell e-books too.  With new e-readers coming out all the time it’s no wonder that the previously sneered at e-books are starting to become rather popular.  You don’t have to drive to the store to purchase it (and who couldn’t stand to save some gas money?) and you don’t have to find a place to store the book when you’re done reading it. 

There will always be people who prefer to have a book in hand, but some of us are starting to adapt.  While I still purchase books from the bookstore, I also purchase several e-books per month.  They’re convenient, inexpensive, and I don’t have to leave home to buy it – not to mention you can start reading it immediately.

And if you’re an author looking at it from a sales stand point, the bottom line is this — if you don’t promote your book, chances are it won’t sell regardless of the format it’s in. 

I do guest blogs, have my own blog (obviously, since you’re reading it), post on myspace and facebook, hand out business cards, give away booksmarks, request at least 15 reviews per title (since chances are less than 5 requests will actually be completed; and quite a few of those will take over a month), and I’m part of over 20 groups that discuss books of my genre (and am currently a moderator of 2). 

I spend about 15-20 hours a week promoting my novels online and by word of mouth.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s paid off.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not raking in the dough by any means, but my checks have gotten a little bigger each month.  Overall, I think things are progressing nicely.

So … what do you think? Paperback? or E-book?

I would love to hear your opinions so please take a moment to comment below …

5 thoughts on “Paperback vs. E-book

  1. My answer is obvious, I guess. I write both. I read both. I read some e-books on the desktop/laptop and some on the PDA. It depends on format and DRM, though I usually avoid DRM.

    Each side has strengths, and each side has weaknesses. For every person who says that some people won’t read e-books, I can come up with a list of people who either don’t do print books (ex pat workers in non-English-speaking countries are a good example of this), do a mix…or who do do a lot of e-books for reasons like vision problems.

    All told, according to one group of ophthalmologists, a PDA is easier on the eyes than large-print books…as long you you’re not reading a back-lit reader in a dark room. Low light is fine but not unlighted.

    One thing I’d add to what you said about NY getting into e-books (again). Okay…a couple of things…

    NY has not only adopted e-books to go along with their print offerings. They are offering entire lines of shorter works ONLY available in e-book, ala Spice Briefs.

    AND… Some NY publishers have announced that e-books are going so well (a 400-500% increase reported by some lines in the last fiscal year), they will be bringing ALL back-list titles to e-book formats by the end of 2010. SOME publishers have announced this.

    Even though indie/e isn’t showing the multi-three-digit increases anymore, because they have been in the business long enough to hit the second stable growth cycle and settle there, while NY is still the babe in the woods in the market… What a switch that is. Grinning…

    Back to the subject. Several established indie/e publishers of my acquaintance are still talking 40-50% increases per year. Not a bad trend, at all!


  2. My generation, (born in the late ’50s) will probably never really embrace E-books. Eight years ago when print publishers sent me rejection notices, most people told me that if I sent my manuscript to an E-publisher, I would never get a contract with a NY publishing firm. I listened to them, sad to say.
    Today with all the gadgets, young people are comfortable reading books on digital devices. They are the future of E-books.
    Now I am working with a Print On Demand publisher who also publishes E-books. I feel good about that! I just wish I had felt this way eight years ago.
    Mariella Morgan

  3. I have an eBookWise reader and love it! I read as many ebooks as possible. I can read it anywhere, anytime and get almost any book that I want. The downside to the reader is it is a bit heavy, but as mine has lasted 3 years and I had one for 2 years prior to that, I would say for the money, the weight is a non-issue.

    I have also read authors that I might not have picked up on since they are not in the store. There are some really good authors out there.

    My house is full to overflowing with paperbacks that are slowing making their way to Half Price Books or to eBay. It is not feasable to keep every book I own; however, with eBooks, I can easily store them on one external hard drive and not every have to worry about space.

    I saw the more eBooks the better!


  4. I write both and read both. Some books are just keepers, and I want them on my bookshelf. But I also have a “shelf” for the little data cards from my reader. Some e-books, that are only available in e-format, are also keepers. Do I think e-books will replace print in the future? Maybe. But not in our lifetime. But it’s time has come and organizations like RWA need to accept it and stop treating their e-published members as second class citizens.
    C. J. Parker

  5. All of you have had wonderful, insightful comments. 🙂

    I haven’t had a chance to buy an e-reader yet, so I still read my e-books on my laptop. However, I’ve been eyeing the Kindle lately. Do any of you have a preference on e-readers?

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