July 27, 2011

Should Authors Abandon Print Books For Ebooks Only? HECK NO! | printable version

An author of books already in print contacted me last week, saying she's considering abandoning her print books because there has been so much in the news about ereaders and ebooks. I told her that would be a huge mistake. Why?

1. Still a Small Percentage Own Ebook Readers

The percentage of people who own dedicated ebook reading devices is still quite small. Most people still read printed books and many of those are diehard print book fans. I've read countless comments from book lovers online, usually people posting comments under ebook reader articles, saying they will always buy print books and that they love the feeling of holding a book in their hand, the smell of the pages, etc. While I do read ebooks, I prefer printed ones so I know how those book lovers feel. While perhaps a few million e-readers have been sold (Amazon doesn't release real numbers so all the sales figures are speculation), there are more than 300 million people in the U.S. It would be a huge mistake for an author to abandon millions of print book lovers by offering only an ebook version in response to media hype...that is usually generated by firms profiting from dedicated ebook reading device sales.

2. Royalties

Abandoning print books means abandoning sales. Until things level off, ebook prices are all over the board. Some desperate authors are pricing their ebooks at 99 cents. Your royalties on a print book will likely be much higher and you can make up to five times more money selling one print version of a self-published book than you can selling an ebook for less than a buck.

3. The "Real Book" Perception

Book buyers know that anybody can slap an ebook up on a website and start selling it, but those book buyers also believe it takes a lot more work to create a print book. While a consumer might be perfectly happy to buy an ebook, they may be more apt to buy that ebook if there is also a print counterpart because, their minds, knowing the book is also in print legitimizes the product. Basically, if it's in print, it's a "real book." At BookLocker.com, we sell FAR more ebooks that also have print counterparts than we do books that are only available in electronic format.

4. Perceived Value

People like buying 99-cent electronic applications (apps) for their smartphones because they're only 99 cents, and are considered a throwaway item. That means they don't mind using it once, and dumping it if they don't like it. The same holds true for 99-cent ebooks. Few will demand a refund for something that's less than a buck, and that they've deleted. Items that are priced so cheap are perceived to be cheap and of lower quality to buyers. Do you want your book to be a throwaway item and perceived as cheap and or lower quality by readers? Maybe you don't care but many authors do.

5. Combination of 3 and 4 above

Having a "real book" (see #3 above) on the market justifies a higher ebook price in the reader's mind (#4 above). An author's print book can't compete with a 99-cent ebook but a buyer who feels it's a quality book based on the fact that it's also in print will likely be willing to pay more for the ebook. The perceived value of a book that is in electronic and print formats is higher than one that's a just a throwaway, 99-cent ebook.

As of this morning, the top 10 best selling books at Amazon.com are all available in electronic AND print formats and none of the ebook versions are priced at 99 cents. The ebook prices range from $4.69 to $14.99. Perceived value!

Don't abandon your print book(s) just because the media is hyping ebooks so heavily right now. A lot of that hype is a direct and indirect result of press releases generated by the manufacturers and retailers of ebook reading devices. Honor your customers by giving them a choice when they're ready to buy. To please everyone, and to increase sales, offer print AND and electronic versions of your books.

Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker.com is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."


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