E-Books or Paper Books for Self-Publishing?

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Millions of readers today rely on electronic books and opt not to read the paper version anymore. It’s the reason why, in the last few years, the publishing industry has become fizzy and many writers started to publish only in digital format, following this new trend. And even though we believe that paper is timeless, we cannot ignore the great benefits of e-books. 

In this article, we will talk about the main advantages of publishing an e-book instead of the paper version:

  • Faster publishing and editing times
  • No printing and storage costs
  • No limited editions
  • No material deterioration
  • Clear sales overview

Of course, you may not enter anymore in a bookstore for a book, but it’s undeniable the advantages of digital format over the paper, like the ones we will see as follows.

Faster Publishing & Editing Times

Publishing a paper book through a publishing house takes a long time if you’ve already been through once in your life. After the paper is printed, it’s then sent to the publisher, who sends copies to you.

On the other hand, publishing an e-book on Amazon is very fast: it takes a matter of days and your book will be immediately available to readers online.

Also, you could decide to set a date in advance and sell it on that specific day. The strategies you could implement are different and that gives you more freedom. 

Regarding editing, if you realize that some parts of the ebook need to be reviewed, you can simply download the file, correct the text and reload it. The updated version is now available to the readers, who can freely download it and replace the previous one.

And what about the paper version? No comparison! If you want to correct any mistakes, you have to wait for the new edition, if ever there will be.

With e-books, whenever a change needs to be made, you can do it immediately and for no cost.

No Printing & Storage Costs

There are no costs associated with publishing an e-book itself. Amazon is a good example of this: you sign up, input your data, upload your designs and cover art, click on publishing and wait for your order to be completed.

No costs were involved during this process (fulfillment itself has its own, of course).

Printing is an expensive process and a percentage of the price will be retained, regardless if it’s done by yourself or through a publishing platform.

For this reason, the e-book has lower costs of publication than a paper book, as it doesn’t require this step.

The only compulsory purchase is the ISBN code but even regarding this point, Amazon provides a unique code called ASIN, which is totally free.

Another relevant differentiation is that with the traditional system you need to learn how to layout a paper. There are a couple of things you have to pay attention to: the punctuation, the paragraphs, eliminating unpleasant spaces between paragraphs and chapters, counting the blank pages, and so on.

A good layout requires software like “Adobe Indesign” or “Quark Xpress”, which are expensive and takes time to learn how to use. “Word” is the most commonly used layout software but it’s not properly working very well for this type of task.

Layouting an e-book, on the other hand, is easier. Although it has its own technical issues, it’s still preferable to the paper version, as it requires a basic knowledge of formats and paragraph structure. The ebook file, once it has completed its conversion, will automatically adapt the text to the e-reader, which is awesome for beginner authors with no experience.

Last but not least the distribution and warehouse costs, which have to be included in the publishing house fee.

Each copy is subject to a percentage royalty on sale by the distributor. Any unsold copies are then returned to the sender each year. Furthermore, there are storage costs for renting a physical warehouse where to place the unsold books if you don’t have one on your own.

None of these expenses are true for digital publishing. Your book’s publisher is the same person that distributes it (for an extra fee), so you don’t need a warehouse. 

Some authors prefer not to sustain further expenses and simply decide to sell their books directly through their websites, without having to pay for hosting and keeping all the profits for themselves.

No Limited Editions

There are no stores where e-books could not be available, wherever they are published (unless they are removed by the author).

People often complain when they cannot find a particular novel or essay in bookstores or on the Internet. It happens many times especially if they’re looking for a niche book, not too mainstream.

Moreover, paper books typically have a limited edition, meaning they usually run out after a certain number of copies when you buy them through small publishing houses or self-publishers. Having them reprinted only involves additional expenses, and you may not have the time or money for this.

Regarding ebooks, you can always buy them. There is no limit to how many copies can be sold. It’s available to anyone.

No Material Deterioration

You can read digital books for as long as you want: they never degrade. Maybe, you could just switch e-readers after a time.

Although you can highlight and make notes in an ebook, you don’t alter its physical condition as much as you would with a paper one.

It’s often said that the fragrance of old books (the yellowed color, the smell of paper) contributes to their timeless charm.

But what if they are dropped, get wet, or bitten by a pet? They can get severely damaged and that would be really a pity!

Clear Sales Overview

E-books have real-time sales data, which means you know exactly how many people have purchased them every month, and how much you are earning from them.

It’s no longer necessary for you to wait for years and years of bookstores’ bureaucracy to even know how many copies you’ve sold.

Also, it could happen that you changed your mind and you may decide to retreat the book from sale. Maybe it’s just a temporary decision as you want to make a review of the content.

Well, what you can do?

If we’re talking about a paper book and it has already been printed and distributed, the process will be lengthy and complex. Moreover, if the editor is a publishing house, you will also be bound by a binding contract.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about an e-book, you could just cancel the publication, and the ebook will no longer be available to readers.

Let’s Sum Up!

We have talked about the main reasons why it is better to publish an e-book than a paper book, and we hope we came in handy to your brainstorming process.

Traditional books will maintain always their charm, but e-books are too innovative to be ignored. On the other hand, the fact that everyone can basically start to publish anything by themselves may involve a lower content quality overall and a lack of accuracy towards the information provided.

However, for authors who are just getting started in the publishing industry, the ebook is the best solution for testing the market. They can launch their first trial, monitor the sales, and then eventually add the paper version next to it. Alternatively, Print On Demand services like CreateSpace can help you with this purpose.

Don’t just get discouraged and let your “e-book journey” begins!

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Two Great Print On Demand Services for Self-Publishers

1. Lightning Source

Lightning Source is an expert provider, being founded in 1996.

The company boasts over 30,000 customers, including authors and libraries, and a production at the limits of efficiency that makes you print and ship in less than 48 hours.

Their website shows you transparently all costs and margins related to your book. On average, a 100-page text costs around $10, plus further options paid apart (as text color and cover).

The cover, in particular, can’t be designed by Lightning Source. Therefore, you have to pay a professional to do that, so be aware of this.

However, it’s a good choice, both for novice and expert authors, as it provides great customization options and reliable fulfillment service.

2. CreateSpace

CreateSpace is a company founded in 2000 and bought by Amazon 5 years later.

Therefore, it’s fully integrated with Amazon, and lets you sell easily through their channels. 

CreateSpace makes you customize covers and book layouts to your liking, although, unlike Blurb, you can’t print physical books with a hardcover.

When you sell through Amazon, it will retain a commission for the service. The remained percentage will be your earnings.

You don’t have to pay additional costs to advertise your book as you can exploit the Amazon marketplace to the fullest, with its billions of users every day.

Print On Demand World Staff

Hey Everyone! We hope you enjoyed reading the article and the information provided on it. If so, share it through your socials and keep visiting our blog, discovering the wonderful World of Print On Demand! Arrivederci! :)

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