Printed Copies or E-books: How Should I Publish?

e-Books vs PrintSelf-publishing has allowed more authors than ever before to get their work out to the public. Now, there are countless services that guide you through the publishing process and help get your book released in whatever format you choose.

However, simply putting your book out there isn’t necessarily going to guarantee success. There are a lot of elements to consider, each with its own set of benefits. The first of these is deciding whether to publish printed or electronic copies; here are a few things to consider before settling on a decision.

Cost Efficiency

One significant element that is often a deciding factor in publishing, particularly for first-time authors, is the cost of each format. While self-publishing no longer comes with the hefty price tag it used to, there are still a few charges if you want to guarantee your book the best chance of success.

In this field, e-books are the best way to go. Printed books require more expenditure to be made a reality. Though print-to-order contracts have reduced this cost considerably, it still ranks higher than its digital counterpart. To get an idea of the cost discrepancies, consider this: Print costs include the actual materials for printing, labor costs, time on the press and many more factors, whereas e-books simply require formatting and submitting. This means that releasing online can be over $100 cheaper, depending on with whom you publish. While there are often discounts if you opt for both formats, if you are writing with a limited budget, e-books are the way to go.

Audience Reach

Another key factor in ensuring your book has the best chance to do well is considering the audience you’re aiming to reach. This is another element that is heavily influenced by your choice of

E-Books vs Traditional Publishing

publishing format. While online distributors make it easy to promote your work to readers worldwide, many companies have shipping restrictions and will only ship to certain regions. Even the ones that will ship globally often incur higher postage prices for international purchases.

Because of this, e-books also come out on top in this area. With the Amazon Kindle providing a convenient way for global users to download your book easily and cheaply, alongside several other mobile and computer apps that can support the e-book format, choosing to distribute digitally automatically affords you to reach more readers than if you opt for a print-only release.

Purpose & Readership

E-book CultureHowever, when considering your audience, if you only focus on numbers, then you’re going to struggle to find much traction. Each type of book has its own unique set of readers, and each of these has different requirements in terms of their format preference.

For example, surveys have shown that children prefer reading print books, potentially because they require fewer fine-motor skills to handle. Similarly, there are many parents, or just general readers, who worry about security issues around internet-based reading devices, so they would predominantly opt for print copies. While the use of a Virtual Private Network can subvert this risk—see this Secure Thoughts review for more information—it’s still a vital factor to consider when making your publishing decisions.

On the flipside, books for older audiences may be better in e-book format. As more and more of the older generation becomes technically competent, the ability to change font size on devices, such as the Kindle, means that poor eyesight no longer has to prevent them from indulging in exciting new literature

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer for questions like this, it is worth giving it some thought, as it could have a significant impact on the success of your release.

Book Culture

E-Books become mainstreamIt may seem like opting for an e-book release is hands down the best option, there is one avoidable factor that may convince you to go the other way. Book culture, and many book lovers, are largely traditionalist, with many actively promoting the benefits of reading over other screen-based activities. This love of books isn’t just about the act of reading; it covers the whole book experience, including going to bookshops, making a purchase and holding a physical copy in your hands to enjoy.

These types of literature purists often lament the advent of the e-book, claiming it will never be the same as a true book. Readers want to build up libraries, have the ability to flick back and forth through their novels with ease and feel the satisfaction of closing the back cover once the story is over. This is a culture that makes up a large amount of bookworms and one that isn’t going anywhere soon. If there’s any way you can run a physical print, it’s worth doing.

In short, an ideal book release would offer buyers the option of both physical and digital copies to attract the greatest and most diverse readership possible. However, in a case where you can only opt for one, these four factors are important to consider before making your choice. What are you waiting for? Send your manuscript over to a publisher and start your self-publishing journey today!

About the Author: Caroline is a long-time literature blogger and a book expert. She’s worked in many areas of the publishing industry and is now working on her first novel. She loves that the internet means she can read more than ever but knows that nothing will beat that new book smell!


Photo credits: Antonio Apología de la tinta electrónica via photopin (license) & Schub@ back in the cathedral of literature via photopin (license) & MegMoggington Paperback Book vs. Amazon Kindle via photopin (license) & WheresWilson New World Old World via photopin (license)

Comments are closed