February 2, 2017 at 3:40 pm #25352
@daeus, suppose a self-published authour only had printed books, and didn’t provide online or downloadable options. Would that lose a lot of money?February 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm #25353
@northerner Basically, yes, though the answer’s not quite so simple.
Let’s say when you initial launch your book, you selling a lot of paperbacks but not many ebooks. I’d first ask, what’s making you sell a lot of paperbacks? Well, you’re probably in bookstores or catalogs where people who buy paper books browse. That might be your only advertising. If we assume it is, then not many people will see your ebook version initially. Once word of mouth gets out though, people will start looking for your book online. At that point, you will start getting a lot of ebook readers looking at your book. I believe I’ve heard that a whole 25% of the book market is in ebooks and still growing despite what many traditional publishers say. Will some of those readers be willing to read a paperback? Sure, but it will still make them less likely. And then there are also many who simply won’t read anything but an ebook. So, yes, you would miss out on a decent chunk of revenue if you didn’t have an ebook even if you didn’t do any advertising for it. If you do any marketing online though, you’ll be naturally driving traffic to your ebook. Also, ebooks have the advantage that you can set them at low discounts for a sale period and you can even make them permafree. I really don’t know why you wouldn’t have an ebook. They’re easier to create than paperbacks.
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@daeus, I object on principle to things like Kindles and e-readers, and have argued against them for quite some time, so to make my books available to read in those media strikes me as being hypocritical. Also, since I write historical fiction, a fair amount of my general readership will be, well, older. I’m not going into this in order to get rich, so I don’t really mind losing some money. Most of my marketing will probably be online, unless I can get my books into libraries or bookstores (and we haven’t any of the latter near me, sad to say).February 2, 2017 at 8:57 pm #25371
@northerner Ah, I suspected that was your reason. Ok, well first, I don’t think your genre will change a whole lot. I’m suspect you’re right that there are fewer e-readers there, but there’s still a significant amount. However, that doesn’t affect the issue of hypocrisy much. Well, here’s the question. Why are you against e-readers? If it’s a moral reason, don’t do it. If it’s a strong personal preference, I don’t think there’s any reason to impose that on others. If you think it’s bad for society, then it’s a bit trickier. You don’t want to give people what’s bad for them, but at the same time, only offering them one option isn’t going to change their preferences. On top of that, you need to consider the grand picture. I’m not trying to grow rich as a writer either, so I didn’t use to be super concerned about profits. I heard a guy thought that changed my opinion on that. He argued that the more you earn, the more you can afford to get your book out to more people. If you think your book is something people should read, then you should accept profits that will help you get it out to more people.
Now, all this being said, I’m still wondering why you wouldn’t give people the option of an ebook. I know there are certain reasons to prefer paper books, but there are also some neat things about ebooks. It seems to me people should pick the one with the perks that are best for them. Is there anything wrong with e-books?
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@daeus, do you really want my essay contra e-books? It might not be a moral reason; it’s certainly an aesthetic one. In its shortest form (and you’re welcome to ask for clarification), e-books cheapen the value of books (the medium is the message), and when you take away the appeal of books to our other senses, you lose something of the beauty of reading. We’re physical creatures, and we use more than just our eyes to appreciate a book. The words are the soul of a book, you might say, and the paper and cover and such are its body.
Also, when the book exists only as a file on your device, can you say you really have it? Perhaps you can have a thousand books on a Kindle, but that will never be as impressive as entering somebody’s library and seeing all the shelves, and bindings, well-worn and loved copies falling apart at the spine, or things like first editions. I’m typing this in my basement actually, which is in the middle of being rearranged. Without moving I can see “Cattus Petasatus” (Cat in the Hat in Latin), The Christian Philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas, The Prydain Chronicles, Paradise Lost, Les Miserables, and volumes of the Summa Contra Gentiles, just to name a few. I see hardcovers and paperbacks, editions of books from 1893 (The Life and Words of Christ), books of all colours, shapes, sizes, and textures. Books that still smell faintly of Half Price Books, and books that I’ve never known life without. You can bequeath these kinds of books in wills; but bequeathing books you’ve downloaded? Absurd. You can hit a heretic over the head with The Truth War or Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, or The Moral Quest, or use The Letters of T. S. Eliot for a writing-desk. If you drop a Kindle and break it, you’ve lost all thousand books at one swoop, but it’s very hard to lose a thousand physical books at once, barring a house fire or major flood. If you get a physical book you can underline good parts, or write notes in the margins; if you buy it secondhand, perhaps the previous owner did the same, and you can make guesses at their character by seeing the parts they liked or what they wrote. Old books are a part of history, like the Life and Words of Christ from 1893 that I mentioned (and we have older books, I’m pretty sure). An e-book version of the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin will not have a brown cover with green and gold designs on it, beautiful both to the eye and hand.February 3, 2017 at 7:49 pm #25423
@northerner Ah, those are some good points. I actually agree with you on most of them. I like seeing my physical books and I like the fact that I can leave them in my inheritance.
And it’s true that part of the beauty of reading is the physical experience. It’s funny you brought that up though, because that’s actually one of the main reasons I love my kindle. The black casing and the creamy white screen are positively beautiful.
I should point out that you do have two misconceptions about ebooks. First of all, you can underline things in a kindle and also, if you break your e-reader, you don’t lose any of the books. All you need to do is get another e-reader device or download an app and you can re-sink all your books.
Anyways. That’s my little rant. I certainly believe in paper books, but I like having both options to chose between.
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@northerner I vastly prefer physical books, especially those with faded cloth-bound covers and crumbling brown pages. 🙂 However, my family travels A LOT, and there is a limit on how many physical books I can own; so for a book lover like me, ebooks are a huge blessing, because I don’t have to tearfully bequeath my library to Goodwill each time we move. I agree that e-books are hardly to be compared to the wonderfulness of real books, but I would rather read you work in an e-book than not read it at all. It’s possible that I’m the only one in this predicament, but it’s just something to consider. 🙂March 10, 2017 at 5:17 pm #27535
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What if at first you self-publish a book and then you try traditionally publishing a different book? Would it affect what publishers think of you? Would they more likely or less likely want to publish your book?March 10, 2017 at 5:37 pm #27538
@revayah1 I’m not a publisher myself so I couldn’t say definitely, but from the impressions I’ve gathered, I highly doubt it unless you published a very poor quality book and they don’t want to be affiliated with it. Even then though, I think that unlikely.
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Oh, a note for those who were wondering what the market is for kindle books, I recently heard that Amazon sells well over twice as many kindle books as paperbacks.
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