Just when the digital revolution has all but killed off the existence of analog, hardcore music lovers start collecting vinyl LPs again. Meanwhile, physical books were declared a thing of the recent past once online marketplaces like Amazon Kindle began dominating the bestseller charts, while opening up limitless opportunities for authors, old and new.
But rumors of paper’s death have apparently been greatly exaggerated. Sorry, tree lovers.
A recent data report by the Association of American Publishers reveals that overall sales of eBooks have dropped sharply in the first half of this year, down 7.5% from the same period in 2014.
Meanwhile, sales of print books, including magazines, are up by .09% over last year, totaling $776 million.
So does this mean eBooks were really just a flash in the pan, and that indie authors who publish exclusively via the easy, affordable digital platform need to start converting their manuscripts into sometimes costly print editions?
In a word, no.
Sticker Shock It To Me
According to that same report, eBooks still account for 30% of total book sales, which is nothing to sneeze at. And for new authors, eBooks are the most efficient and accessible choice when pitching your product to a global audience unfamiliar with your work.
eBooks are simply less expensive to purchase than print books, so curious readers may take a chance on a 99-cent download as opposed to investing in a print book by an unknown writer, especially since eBooks are instantly obtained via a variety of electronic devices, whereas print books also require the added expense and hassle of shipping.
Readers can also digitally store more books by more authors, and sample them at their leisure without worrying about having to haul around a bag of books they’re not even sure they want to finish reading.
Of course, all of these contemporary conveniences were touted as the reasons eBooks would one day replace print books altogether. That trend does appear to be slowing, but actually, it’s a good bet for both authors and readers, reaping mutually beneficial dividends.
The More the Merrier
Most major DIY publishing platforms like CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu offer authors the affordable options of both print and digital versions of their books in a single package deal. Though you may have to invest more in cover art for the print edition, especially since you’d need a spine and back cover in that case, it will prove a worthwhile investment in the long run. The more alternatives you offer potential audiences, the greater potential for expanded readership.
Basically, there is no need to limit your possibilities as a self-publisher, any more than readers need to restrict their personal libraries to a single format. In fact, many readers will buy the print book after sampling the eBook for free, because it’s worth owning in both formats – one for the shelf at home, and one for portable enjoyment.
As long as someone wants to buy your book, the format doesn’t matter nearly as much as the content. Despite the constantly shifting trends in the rapidly growing indie publishing industry,it’s still all up to you.
Which do you prefer as a reader: digital, print, or both?
PHOTO: FLEUR-ANGE LAMOTHE