Print Vs. eBook – What’s Your Opinion?

I published Mark of the Loon as an ebook last year but I’ve never created a print copy. Last summer I re-edited for the umpteenth time and uploaded the new version. This spring I want to print a paperback. I’ve reviewed Terri Giuliano Long’s guest post on my blog, CreateSpace vs. Lightening Source For Self-Published Books and I think I’ll go with CS, but before I do I wanted to get some feedback. So I asked a few friends, “How have you all printed, distributed, sold, and marketed your paperbacks? Or are you sticking with ebook versions only?”

Toby-Neal_OptimizedToby Neal: Even with all the hassles of print, I will always do a print version of every book. They’re more expensive and time consuming to produce than an ebook, so they trail in timing. I do my books through Lightningsource, and they are gorgeous silky-matte masterpieces. I could never navigate that site without professional help; unlike Createspace it’s not designed for non-techies, and that’s a real drawback.

Rachel Thompson: Both my books are digital only. I plan the same for my next one. At some point I’ll do paper, but print copies are a fraction of what most of my clients sell.

Christine-Nolfi_OptimizedChristine Nolfi: My first 3 books were released in both print and digital, but #4 and #5 will be digital only. I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but I believe most indie writers earn the bulk of their income from ebooks. I never expected to earn much from the paperbacks, although I would like to see them carried by libraries coast to coast!

Rachel-Thompson_OptimizedRachel Thompson: That’s true, Christine. 150 digital ebooks are sold for every 100 paper books. Forget about hardcover. And there’s so little cost involved with digital – beyond initial editing, formatting, graphic design, and proofing – that it makes the most sense for indies.

Toby Neal: I’ve been lucky as a self-publisher. I’ve priced my print books low as a trade paperback and I’ve sold at least 5,000 copies of all the titles, which is more than other self-pubbers report.

Christine Nolfi: Pew Research indicates an increasing percentage of e-reader sales are made to people in the high wage ages of 30-50, and more and more, those people prefer to download an ebook vs. purchase a physical copy in a bookstore.

Toby Neal: But that brings up another issue: I think print books play an important role, even as technology changes. Print books are actually a class and economic issue, because of the secondary, used and donated book market that will eventually disappear if and when they do. Perhaps it’s my social worker perspective, but I’m sensitive to the divide between the haves and have-nots, and the e-reader issue points this up.

How many older people can or will make the switch? How about the poor, the homeless, those in jail? Books are an important escape and route to education for working-class and poor folks, and libraries historically have been great equalizers and hangouts for a cross section of every community. I think my print books deserve to find homes in all the hands of those who will never handle an e-reader.

Molly Greene: Toby brings up an issue that I’ve never considered. I actually borrow most of the print books I read from the library, partly due to cost and partly due to convenience. My local library is like “Cheers” to me, and I’d be heartbroken if that privilege disappeared. Great point, Toby.

RobGuthrieRob Guthrie: I’m with Toby – I always do a print version as soon as possible. I don’t sell many but I like to have copies for book signings, local and regional book stores, and nothing – I mean NOTHING – feels as good as holding your paperback in your own hands.

Martha-BourkeMartha Bourke: I released print and ebook versions of Jaguar Sun on the same day in January, 2012. Although I loved seeing my book in print, I haven’t sold anywhere near the amount of paperbacks as ebooks – I think I’ve sold 50! I use them mostly for contests and friends and family.

Alison-DeLuca_OptimizedAlison DeLuca: My sister insists on print books so I’ve made paperback copies of each of mine. She loves the smell, the pages, the feel of print. There’s much to that – true readers know the excitement that comes with walking into a library or a used book store and seeing all those worlds waiting within the covers.

I’ve embraced ebooks as well, though. For one thing, e-readers are so darned convenient. I can bring ten huge volumes along for a ride in one slim reader. I can change the font size with a swipe of a finger (a concept that becomes more and more important as I get older.) And I can buy more books from new, exciting authors that never seem to make it into the mainstream bookstores.

Toby Neal: In my experience as a reader, the biggest drawback of the ebook is not being able to pass it around to all your friends, collecting stains, sand and dog-eared corners. I really miss that!

Readers, what do you think? Will you buy paperbacks to support the print industry, or are you embracing e-readers all the way?

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! Just enter your email address in the upper right corner of this page. It’s easy, and I won’t share your contact information with anyone!

, , ,

91 Responses to Print Vs. eBook – What’s Your Opinion?

  1. Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    I’ll start things off by saying that I love my Kindle for traveling, but if I had to choose between the two it would have to be print! I’m looking forward to holding my own books in hand one day. What a long journey it’s been!

  2. Toby Neal January 28, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Terrific post that shows all sides of the issue, and you wrote it like we were all in a room, talking! Thanks Molly!

  3. Larry Crane January 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I have no realistic chance at immortality via print versions of my book because the book itself is not Madame Bovary or even a poor imitation of it. But, there is something about the palpable object in your hands that make the process of producing your book both worthwhile and legitimate. I go with the print version.

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      I get your point, Larry, LOON isn’t literary fiction either – but I’m still gonna print it, even if it’s just to swap with my self-published author friends!!

  4. Belinda Pollard (@Belinda_Pollard) January 28, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi Molly, I have books on my Kindle, books on my iPhone, and books on my shelves. They seem to serve different purposes.

    A decent non-fiction that I’m going to use for a while, I will get the paperback. I hate the clunkiness of trying to flick back and forth between sections in ebooks.

    Novels I generally read on the Kindle, because you start at the beginning and keep on reading till the end, and that works well with the ebook format. I don’t like reading them on the iPhone though… the screen is too small and bright and it’s not relaxing. The iPhone books are really just if I need to access something on the run. “Something to read in a queue…”

    I’ve used both Lightning Source and CreateSpace for clients. For me in Australia, Lightning Source offers an advantage because there is a bureau in Melbourne, and shipping fees from the US are absolutely scandalous.

    Lightning Source gives a few more options but is definitely tricky for non-techy people. CreateSpace is more forgiving. Also, my experience is that CreateSpace gives you more control over your Amazon listing, which as we know is darned important! I’ve found that a bit frustrating with Lightning Source, as my sales rep there doesn’t seem to “get it”.

    Not sure if you saw Joanna Penn’s video a few days ago… she’s going back into print with her novels.

    Interesting times…

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

      I won’t give up my print books for reference, either, Belinda. If I lose track of a character in a e-reader novel (what color was her hair, anyway?) I never go back to try to find out. And I’m sure I’ll use CreateSpace because I’m frustrated enough with all the stuff we need to know as indie authors, so I try not to call down more if I don’t have to … meaning I’d probably end up crying over LS, ha ha ha.

  5. Robyn Jones January 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    This is the first time I’ve read anything on the debate between ebook and papar where the discussion was so positive. And there were several points I hadn’t considered, like the library and its accessibility vs. people who have computers and ereaders. Thanks for the post.

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      Yikes! I’m glad I’ve missed the not-so-positive conversations. What good would it do to blast either side? It is what it is – but that’s just my opinion. As Jeri would say, “What do I know?”

  6. Pamela Beason January 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

    As a reader, I definitely prefer print. I must have at least fifty books on my Kindle, but it still feels like using a computer to me; using it makes me feel like I’m at work, while reading a print book feels more relaxing to me. That’s probably just a matter of training, though, and maybe also the fact that I have a Kindle touch, so it usually takes two hands to use it, while when I read a print book I generally rest it in my lap or on the arm of my plush chair, as I hold my coffee or pet my cat with one hand and turn pages with the other.

    As an author, I produce both print and ebook versions of my full length books. I sell many more ebook copies of my indie mystery and romances than print, and of course I love the fact that I make more money from ebook versions and they’re less hassle to publish. I use both Lightning Source and CreateSpace for print copies.

    My mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime sells thousands more print copies than ebook versions. Which is a mystery in itself. It seems like romance readers and YA readers are more enthusiastic about ebooks than mystery readers, who generally seem to want print.

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

      It’s funny about that two-handed issue with e-readers Pam, because I feel the same way. As a reader, I also prefer print. They’re easier to prop up and shuffle back through and all that. And hey, it’s good to hear you’re selling more print books for those titles – I like that. Congrats to you!!

    • MM Jaye December 9, 2013 at 2:22 am #

      Hello from Greece!

      I’m joining this conversation late, but I think it’s important to point out the genre-specific reader trends. If you target romance readers (like me) I think the ebook is a one-way street. Romance tends to feed the readers’ need for ‘instant gratification’ and when they get it, they’ll look for it again in another title (and there are thousands to choose from). I write romance so, inevitably, I read it and out of the dozens of titles I have on my Kindle, I went on to buy 10 printed titles max for my book shelves. On the other hand, when my favorite literary fiction writers publish new work, I might order an ebook to devour it on the spot, but I almost always follow up with the print version. I need to hold and smell a book I truly love and believe will stand the test of time. So as I said, your genre plays an important role in making a decision. However, when I publish (I’m far from ready) I’ll pring a small quantity for friends and local bookstores, but mainly because I think that holding my book will only compare with holding my baby.

      • Molly Greene December 9, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

        Hello Maria! It took me a while to “get used” to my Kindle, but now I devour books on it. And like you, I buy the print copy afterward – but only for those few-and-far-between novels that become my favorites.

  7. Victoria January 28, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    I’m a print lover from way back. I travel a lot and love taking a book or two with me. I had a Kindle Fire for 2 months and gave it to hubby. It just wasn’t the same.

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

      Sounds like we’re the ones who are supporting the print industry, Victoria!

  8. A. E. Poynor January 28, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I put out my first self-pub book in 1999, as public consumption e-books were still in their infancy. Followed Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, preparing a photo-ready copy and hiring out a cover. From there I took bids on printing and shipping (and shipping to Alaska was pricey). Definitely old school. I’ve since put out three e-books: an e-book of the original Of Moose and Men, a second volume of more Of Moose and Men and a novel. I truly miss the physical interaction a hard copy book provides with readers. For that reason alone, I would think it makes sense to go both routes, if time permits. I would echo the sentiments about using different formats for different purposes, and some books are just more enjoyable when the physical aspects go along with the reading.

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

      A.E., you were a real trailblazer to have started back in 1999! It must be amazing to you to have watched how this industry has grown. I read somewhere today that now it’s “easier to get a book published, harder to get it sold.”

      • A. E. Poynor January 28, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

        Molly, I wouldn’t say I was a trailblazer… I was hacking my way through the weeds. You’re right about watching things change. Amazon contacted me about signing up for Kindle when it first came out. Dumbest thought I’ve ever had: Well, that’ll never fly. D’oh! To take back those really bad choices.

        • A. E. Poynor January 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

          By the way, thank you for your blog. I find the posts very helpful and interesting.

          • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

            …and I find your comments thoughtful and a wonderful addition to the dialogue that goes on here — THANKS!

    • Belinda Pollard (@Belinda_Pollard) January 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

      LOVE your book title, A.E. Just went to Amazon and bought it for my Kindle. (This is not to encourage scurrilous blog-commenting-just-to-make-sales by authors, but every now and then, it works!)
      Did you know you can buy your paperback for $350!!! That’s inflation for you. 😉

      • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

        You are the best!! Does everyone know my wonderful friend Belinda Pollard? Follow her blog, follow her on Twitter. She is THE BEST, smartest, funniest person and definitely on my Top Ten List Of Interesting Women I’d Like To Lunch With.

        • Belinda Pollard (@Belinda_Pollard) January 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

          Next time I’m in Southern California, Molly, I’m gonna take you up on that lunch!! 😀

          • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

            We can all bring a book so we’ll recognize one another :-]

      • A. E. Poynor January 28, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

        Thanks for your kind words, Belinda. That $350 has GOT to be a typo!

  9. Robert J Banach January 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Here, here Toby, buy them, share them, donate them, everyone should have access to everything published, not just the ones that can afford the tools to read them online.
    Maybe my age showing here, but I even dislike the term ‘ebook’, even the spell checker on this website does not recognize the term and has underlined the ‘word’ in squiggly red.
    Call them ‘epublications’ or ‘epubs’ for short, something, as ‘book’ does not in reality qualify…
    Wikipedia’s definition: A book is a set of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of ink, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf, and each side of a leaf is called a page.
    And finally, I love my library full of books!

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      Robert, someone better jump on Wikipedia’s site and amend that definition!! Thanks so much for weighing in.

    • Toby Neal January 28, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

      Yes, thanks so much for the positive comment, Robert! Aloha

  10. Mandy Eve-Barnett January 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    I agree with Toby in regard to the physical resource of a book for anyone unable to afford fancy e-readers. Libraries need to continue to hold books for those among us that will benefit from them. And Rob has my vote in regard to the actual feel, smell and delight at cuddling up with a book. This cannot be replaced with a cold electronic back lit screen.
    I do have my children’s book, Rumble’s First Scare as a print book but my adult fantasy, The Rython Kingdom is an e-book so I do have one foot in both options so to speak. However, once I can afford it I will get a print copy of my feels more like a book that way in my opinion.

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      I agree, Mandy, and I’m sad to admit I hadn’t really considered the issue of accessability, even though my local librarians all know me by name. I’d be lost without the library, so now I can only imagine how others would feel without the opportunity to read at will.

  11. JLOakley January 28, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    Great discussion. I’m with Toby on the social conscious because there is a tech divide and book in hand is a wonderful thing for children with their first book and for adults who live on a tight budget. I have my novel on Kindle and used Createspace for the print version. I think It’s important to have a novel in book form. Book clubs and libraries like it.

    I’m not sure which works best. Some genres do better in ebook. I write historical fiction and I sell more in book form. Still not big numbers. Toby and Pam are doing really well

    I love my Kindle Fire but I also use it for email and FB. I have a few books on it. Just finished a novel in paper. Won a contest and have two more waiting at home.

    • Toby Neal January 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

      Great to see you weigh in here, Janet, and aren’t you glad you have your wonderful hard copy of Tree Soldier?

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      JL, you’ll have to share your secrets about approaching book clubs and libraries – that would be a great topic for another convo post!

  12. Al Adams January 28, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    I Love My eReaders, {Android Tablet 9-inch Screen, Simple Touch nook Small Screen} and Also use a PC Laptop for eRead-ing, Yes I am NOT a Writer, That’s Why I read what others Write. I Still Read the “Dead-Tree” Versions, but the Convenience of the eReader’s can’t be beat, Portable, Amazon {Will Let Me Loan eBooks I Buy} The Wave of Future Reading is eReading… I have Two Friends in the 80 Plus age group both using eReaders! Love the Loon eBook, From Someone in Midland, MI home of the “Great Lakes Loons” Minor League Baseball Team.

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      I love that you have e-readers “plural,” and I’m thrilled that you loved my book Al, THANKS!! Hugs to all Loons lovers!

  13. Douglas Dorow January 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    I love my kindle and now prefer it to reading paper books. But I recognize that some people will always read paper so I made my book available as an ebook first and then as a paper book via CreateSpace. Cost me nothing but a couple of hours of my time to use their template to create the book and gives me something for book clubs and signings, etc.

    I really believe in giving the reader access to my story how they want to read it, so I made it available as an audiobook as well.

    Long live the reader!

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Doug, I have friends who swear by audiobooks but I have yet to try one. A great time to be an author AND a reader with such wide access to books in so many formats. Still, it will be print books that most financially challenged readers will borrow from libraries, as Toby pointed out. Looks like most of the authors commenting here have all printed a paper version.

  14. Jeri January 28, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    I quickly made the transition to Kindle for reading novels a few years ago, but I still prefer print books for reading reference sources. I’ve now been using an iPad for a little over a month now, but I don’t like that it doesn’t fit in my purse! Overall, I can go either way, but I’m not overly attached to the heft of feeling something in print. Something about being able to fit thousands of books on an eReader really appeals to my OCD side 😉

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:27 am #

      Jeri! Maybe you can buy a bigger purse?? So many people report a deep attachment to their iPads … but frankly the cost has kept me away. Lucky you!

  15. Richard Alan January 29, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Great post, Molly. I do both print and eBook. I still love the feel of a real book in my hands. I know many people who are like that. It doesn’t really cost anything to produce print books. To me it seems like a win-win situation. I use CreateSpace. I am very happy with their quality. A proof copy costs between $4 and $5 plus shipping. Any books you buy for yourself you buy at cost. I often donate copies to charity auctions or give as gifts. I do sell many more eBooks than print books, but I want customers to be able to get my book in whatever format they prefer.

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:29 am #

      Richard, I’ve learned a lot about CreateSpace just from the authors’ comments here. Toby also uses her print books as auction donations, hope all our visitors are taking notes!

  16. Barbara Ann Mojica January 29, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    All of your comments gave me a lot to think about. I write history for a local news magazine. I have to admit I love the thrill of seeing my articles in print. I don’t have a kindle yet, but I think I will be investing in one soon. My first children’s book, Little Miss History Travels to Mount Rushmore was self published a month ago, and I did not even consider an e book because I thought the beautiful illustrations would be lost. However, when I read about the rising number of electronic book sales at reasonable prices, I begin to rethink myself. I just might release my book in e format before the next book in the series comes out this summer to see which format works better and produces greater sales.

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:31 am #

      Best to you in your ebook adventure, Barbara! It will be interesting to compare sales results.

  17. Keri Peardon January 29, 2013 at 5:55 am #

    When I published my first book, “Acceptance,” I did an ebook and print book simultaneously (print book through CreateSpace). I think I’ve sold 2 print books (one to my mother and, surprisingly, one to a fan who already already had the ebook; some people like books for books’ sake).

    It’s a lot of additional formatting, the book cover design is more complicated, and once you have separate ebook and print book files, every edit has to be made to both files. But, I like having a print book because:

    1) I always order multiple proof copies while I’m in the editing stage. This allows me to hand my book off to one of my beta readers so they can read it and mark typos or other problems.

    2) I like to read a print copy because I can catch typos that my eye doesn’t notice when I’m reading from a computer screen.

    So, if I have to format one for myself anyways, I might as well take the few extra steps it takes to make it pretty and ready for sale. It doesn’t cost me anything but time and, at this point, every sale is a needed sale.

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      Keri, the proofing issue is important – good point to order extra proof copies!! And yes, every sale helps. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  18. Milissa R Bailey January 29, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    My first book “Gracier” was published in paperback and ebook form. I agree the ebooks sell more quickly. However, I too have readers that like the book in their hands. Always interesting trying to strike the balance that pleases all your readers!
    Great comments!

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      Agreed, the conversation has been great fun – and I’ve learned a lot. Thanks for joining us!

  19. geoffwakeling January 29, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    There’s nothing quite like having that novel proof arrive through the letterbox to make you smile!

    I always start out with the ebook and then come to publishing via print a few months later. It not only affords me a little bit of extra time, but it also allows the ebook to move up in the charts a bit first.

    I have a lot of friends who don’t have ereaders, so print is their only option. It’s also nice to have print copies to sell to people you may meet, take to conventions….leave lying around in obvious places hoping that a reader with a 100K following will pick it up and read. 😉

    Definitely a fan of both to maximise the book’s potential…and even if no one else buys them, it’s awesome to see them on my shelves.

  20. Writefast January 29, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Haven’t read all the comments yet so this may have already been said but, I don’t think e vs dead tree matters. Ebooks have won, at least in the short term, but there is a resurgence, I think more an emotional reflex than anything else, in interest in paperbacks. The social wave of e readers is reaching critical mass faster than print seems to be able to keep up. As we go into 3rd, 4th and 5th generation readers all those first gen readers are passing down to children, and as those get replaced they’ll hit eBay and thrift shops for pennies in the dollar, add to that the growing number of school districts that are adding e readers to the curriculum and you are whittling away at the income disparity argument against ebooks. Personally, I don’t think paper is gone, but it is certainly getting pushed to the margins. More and more kids I know have as much face time with an e reader as they have had with paper. So that emotional connection that so many of us have with paper just isn’t there for them. The thing that they will look back fondly on is the bulky little tablet device they read Hunger Games on when they were a kid. Same way many of us look back at Speak and Spell. Having said that, the savior, at least in the short term, of the paperback seems to be indie authors and print on demand services. Minimal overhead, warehouse space, product on hand, and a desire to just hold that first edition in your own hand and to see it sitting on your own shelf, right there, with your name on the spine, priceless. I remember reading an article years ago, when Lulu and Create Space were still new, the author said that these vanity presses were going to kill the industry. Pretty good odds that we look back in twenty years and see that vanity presses saved the industry, or at least the paperback.

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Whew! Great points, all. Libraries may even begin to lend the actual e-reader with ebooks, don’t you think? Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! Thanks to everyone for taking the time to be part of the conversation!

      • Barbara Ann Mojica January 29, 2013 at 10:21 am #

        Dear Molly,

        Thanks so much, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and will consider all advice given.

        • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

          .. and so will I! Thanks so much, Barbara!

  21. Christine Nolfi January 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    I never thought I’d say this, but I increasingly prefer eBooks. I love to read in bed and can read on my iPad without disturbing my husband.

    Molly, I do think libraries will eventually lend out eReaders along with books.

    Thanks for adding my comments to the discussion.

  22. Catherine L Vickers January 29, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    As a Reader I’d say I’m reading 80% ebook and 20% printed books. My elderly mother however is still reluctant with the ebook even though she can increase the font to see better. She likes to cheat and look ahead and feel the pages etc. As an indie author I recently went to print on CreateSpace Amazon and was shocked at the price I had to set for a 430 page book. I still went ahead but I don’t expect many sales. Mind you I haven’t had many e book sales yet either.

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

      I’m still reading 80% print vs. 20% ebooks. Our library system allows us to go online and request a book from any library in the county and they deliver to my local branch. Do you know how sad I’d be if that ever went away? As for print book pricing, that’s probably one of the reasons novels are getting shorter!

  23. Jolyse Barnett January 29, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Great post, Molly!

    I enjoy both print and ebooks, although I’m beginning to lean toward ebooks as the preferred way to read for pleasure. I love being able to carry all those titles in one little ereader (Kindle Fire or Kindle Paperwhite).

    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

      Hi Jolyse! Agreed, and that is the consensus position here. As someone said on Twitter, “ebooks for convenience, print books for love.”

  24. Grace Greene January 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Hi, Molly – So many wonderful insights from these authors on print and/or ‘e’ and why. Adding my two cents, I always do print in addition to the eformats. I don’t sell anywhere near what I sell in ‘e’ but many of my readers want that print copy, especially signed print copies, and quite a few give them as Christmas gifts. Even though I don’t see as many sales as ‘e’, yet each one of those gifts might well introduce more readers to my books.

    Enjoyed this blog topic very much!


    • Molly Greene January 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

      Hi Grace! It seems as though if a self-pubbed author wants to get out and work the book signing/library/book club channels — in other words, meet the public — we’ll need to have that print copy ready to go. This post has actually turned into a mini-marketing conversation. Thanks so much for the read and wonderful comment! : Although Grace and I are both lovely people, we are not – unfortunately – related. LOL!

  25. Lisa January 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    I find I buy most books twice. I use Kindle to try new authors because the price is so much lower. But when I find an author I really like, I buy the hard copy because I love the tactile sensation of holding the story world I am immersed in at the time. Books by authors I like are read and reread many times. They become marked up, sometimes comments written in the margins, sometimes dog hair finds its way in, or a cat print, or a child’s smudged finger print. Then, when I reread the book, I have memories attached to the story. Probably sounds weird, but you just can’t get that with an e-reader.

    • Barbara Ann Mojica January 30, 2013 at 5:31 am #

      I agree that sometimes you just want to hold that book, look at it again and maybe even jot down those thoughts. Your kindle or smartphone is just not warm and cuddly like hugging a favorite book. Really, I find it hard to think of one of my electronic devices as a friend!

    • Molly Greene January 30, 2013 at 8:03 am #

      Exactly, e-books are a great way to find new authors. I borrowed Susanna Kearsley’s “The Winter Sea” from my local library as an e-book and immediately bought the print copy after that first read. LOVE THAT STORY!

      • Barbara Ann Mojica January 30, 2013 at 10:34 am #

        A point well taken. I did not think of an e book to try a new author. Maybe I should have released “Little Miss History Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE” in e book format before print. But then again I am so fearful of losing the beautiful illustrations that are so important to the book.

        • Belinda Pollard (@Belinda_Pollard) January 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

          Barbara Ann, did you know that illustrations can be gorgeous in ebook? I’ve read several ebooks that had illustrations and photos and they look great on my Kindle (albeit in B&W because I have the old Kindle keyboard) and I’ve made an ebook myself which had cartoons in it… I make my ebooks in Scrivener, and just drop the illustrations in. Not sure what your illustrations are, but of course if they are full-colour, only people with colour e-readers will be able to see them at their full worth…

          So there are quite a few possibilities with illustrations and ebooks. I doubt you could just put them through the Smashwords grinder though and get quite the effect you want. Others may be able to weigh in with their experience of that.

          • Barbara Ann Mojica January 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

            Thanks for your info. I am really totally unfamiliar with the e book process but you gave me a lot to think about! I will do more research and certainly follow up.

          • Al Adams January 30, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

            I Use an Android ASUS Eee Transformer Touchpad Tablet To eRead The National Geographic Magazine, {I am sure You Know about The Color Pictures in this Publication} I Love the Ability to “Double-Tap” the Picture Image To Zoom in For a Real Close Look, Can’t Do That With a “Dead-Tree” Version, Also My eReader, Can Read Out Loud To Me… And If I Want To Read a Large {Heavy} Book (ie The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection), My Tablet is a Fraction of the Weight of that or a Tom Clancy, even his Paperbacks Weigh More… Tablet eReaders are Still Dropping in Price, I expect to See Several eReader Platforms in the $30.00 Range in the next Three Years, Mark My Words! Al Adams

  26. Kate Vale January 30, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    As a new author, tired of beating my head against the wall of agents who were kind–well, some were–but not interested in my work, I chose to indie publish my stories. All six are on Amazon and I’m learning more every day about how much time I need to devote to marketing when I’d really rather be writing. Thus, I’m forcing myself to devote time every day to marketing,even if it’s simply connecting with people on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and the like. After I do so, I give myself a pat on the back and go back to writing.

    • Molly Greene January 30, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      I know how you feel Kate – in fact everyone in this convo probably understands. We have to wear a LOT of hats, and marketing takes a big chunk of time. Hang in there!!

      • Al Adams January 30, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

        Hi Molly: I Don’t Know if you see all of the replies to other People, If You Do I Apologize for the Repeat, of this post..

        I Use an Android ASUS Eee Transformer Touchpad Tablet To eRead The National Geographic Magazine, {I am sure You Know about The Color Pictures in this Publication} I Love the Ability to “Double-Tap” the Picture Image To Zoom in For a Real Close Look, Can’t Do That With a “Dead-Tree” Version, Also My eReader, Can Read Out Loud To Me… And If I Want To Read a Large {Heavy} Book (ie The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection), My Tablet is a Fraction of the Weight of that or a Tom Clancy, even his Paperbacks Weigh More… Tablet eReaders are Still Dropping in Price, I expect to See Several eReader Platforms in the $30.00 Range in the next Three Years, … Mark My Words! Al Adams

        • Molly Greene January 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

          Hi Al! Yes, I see and try to respond to every comment because I adore all of you, and no worries about repeating – I’ve learned so much from this post’s comments I’ll be an e-reader expert soon. Thanks so much!

        • Barbara Ann Mojica January 30, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

          I hope that they do come way down in price. That would make them affordable for almost everyone. Hopefully the technology will also allow for uniformity across all formats.

  27. RachelintheOC February 1, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    So excited to have been part of this terrific group of writers, Molly. Thanks for including me.

    I must say, having three books on Amazon only has, for me, been wonderful. I’m n talks now with they who shall remain nameless to create paperback versions of two of them and while I exclusively read on my Kindle, iPad, or iPhone, even I would love to have print copies to sign for people at some point.

    I’m a diehard paperless girl. No question. I love having hundreds (thousands?) of books at my disposal at any moment. That said, if any of those run out of power, I’m screwed. LOL


    • Molly Greene February 1, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Hey Rachel, interestingly enough I’ve been in a power outage w/my Kindle and it was the back-lit reading screen that got me through it!

  28. Holly Bush February 3, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    What a fascinating discussion! I’ve been thinking for some months now of using Create Space to print my historical romances, if for no other reason than I’ll have some to mail for contests. But the more feedback I get from writers that have printed books, the less inclined I am to do it. Although having a tangible product is alluring, I just don’t want to manage anything else other than writing and marketing.

    Having served on my local library board for some years, I understand the social aspect, mentioned in a post above, of print vs ereader. We struggled as a board to come up with ways to serve the most and the neediest folks in our community. I don’t doubt many libraries will be lending Kindles and Nooks to their card holders within the next few years. Prices will continue to drop and companies will recognize a way to indoctrinate the next generation to a brand and make ereaders available at little or no cost to libraries.

    Personally, I’m addicted to my Kindle, and when I find a new favorite author, buy the book as well!

  29. Khanh Ho February 6, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Some great points. I loved that you used a diversity of voices. I actually just published a take on this at Huffington Post a week or so ago.

  30. Barbara Anne Waite April 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Molly I published my book in print first and a couple months later as an e-book. I have sold far more e-books than print. My book is a Memoir taken from my grandmother’s letters and diary from 100 years ago. So that opens up sales where fiction perhaps less likely to sell. The sales that I am excited about are the print books that sell in National Parks, Museums and gift shops. Two National Parks have now ordered nearly 500 books over the last year. I have sold at a book signing in Costco in Arizona. I love my kindle but like it best for novels and convenience. I began using Lightning Source but switched for Amazon orders to Create Space. I still order from LSI for books I sell to museums and book clubs, etc. I think I would do both again, LSI and then Create Space.

    • Molly Greene April 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Congratulations on your book sales! Very clever of you to find niche markets for your memoir, and I think that is a reminder for all authors doing their own book promo – think outside the box! Thank you so much for your lovely comment!

  31. Maranna April 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    All very interesting. We adults have the choice and for most of us, it depends on the occasion – book versus kindle. Kindle is certainly my choice when travelling.

    One thing I’d like to point out is that I don’t believe children have quite embraced the kindle as well as we might have thought. Perhaps that is a cost issue, but certainly the ones I have chatted to ( primary school age) seem to prefer books.

  32. pamela May 7, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I published my first e-book in January; sales have been nice, but slowing down. I have many fans, but the older ones (60+) are pleading that I also publish a paperback. The comments here in your post have convinced me to do so – thanks for the push.

    I’m sure my sales will be better in the e-book bracket, but it will be nice to make my friends and mom happy. I’m just a bit intimidated about using Create Space – as most indie authors say, just marketing and keeping up with the social media take up so much time, I hate to use it up with another technology (I’d rather be working on my next book, which is almost ready to be published). I really appreciated all this info. Thank you.

    • Molly Greene May 7, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      Agreed Pamela, it’s daunting how much there is to learn as an indie author. That’s why I try to share what I’ve learned here on my blog. Thanks so much for stopping by, and best to you as you tackle CreateSpace!

    • bamauthor May 7, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      I went the other way. Published a paperback because a large part of my market would seem to be in the classroom. Now I am thinking of e book because I see it as a promotional tool. Still don’t understand formatting process completely. My book is a picture book and depends heavily on the illustrations. So much to ponder and so hard to know which would be more successful.

  33. Michael June 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I think of e-books vs. hardcopy books in the same way as pens vs. fountain pens, and electronic music vs. vinyl. I think there will always be some who just enjoy the old way and continue to buy the hard copies.

    In fact, I think it might be good to look at the huge changes in the music business for the possible direction the book business may take.

  34. Steve Vernon July 8, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    Okay Molly – so I’m going to throw my hat squarely into the corner of the paperback.

    I’ve JUST released my first indie paperback – a fine fat CreateSpace version – and I’m working on formatting a second indie paperback of another of my books.

    Cost? Not much of an issue. I paid the extra twenty-five bucks for the expanded distribution. I had to pay my artist for a front/back/spine version of my original cover. That was it, so far.

    I see the paperback as being one more line in the water. There are still many readers out there who HAVEN’T gone e-book. I know a lot of them. Older people, folks with a limited budget, neo-hippy luddites…

    (heck, I still don’t own a cellular telephone)

    An added bonus is that the Kindle listing for the e-book version now has a big old discount prominently noted – SAVE 61% over the paperback version.

    Will I sell many? Who knows? Who cares?

    The main benefit I see is I now have the ability to sell my book in paperback format at local trade shows, conventions, book fairs and the like. I’m booked at a horror festival this August – and a table full of my books will DEFINITELY turn my appearance into a profitable situation. I’ve got a booking at a local Gothic Christmas Festival – in which I run a palm reading booth – and a table full of my books will likewise provide a fine alternative to those folks who are looking for gift ideas.

    A paperback is a great gift, a great prize for a reader-based draw, a great donation to a local library – heck, being a Canadian means that I can even make a profit on books that are borrowed through our library system.

    So – for me – a paperback version is a solid option and an important addition to a well-produced e-book!

    I am still trying to figure out the possible advantages/disadvantages regarding CreateSpace versus Lightning Source.

    Any thoughts on that?

    • Molly Greene July 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      Wow Steve, well said! Although I have yet to print a paper copy of my books, I agree 100% that authors who are “out in the world” must be able to offer a print copy to libraries and fans and for giveaways on GoodReads. So good on you for taking that step! As for CS vs. LS, sounds like the best way to go is to use both. Terri Long’s post on my blog and her update on IndieReader covers the subject pretty well. This should help: Createspace vs. Lightning Source For Self-Pubbed Print Books

  35. Steve Vernon July 8, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Thank you Molly.

    What helped me get through the formatting from manuscript to CreateSpace was a Youtube video from author India Drummond.

    • Molly Greene July 9, 2013 at 7:46 am #

      THANKS! I’ll Google & bookmark it – great tip!

      • bamauthor July 9, 2013 at 8:54 am #

        Thanks for the tip! Definitely archiving this one.

  36. Carol Cram February 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

    I’m definitely producing a print book of my novel The Towers of Tuscany. About 75% of the people I know are anxiously waiting for the print version; very few have or want e-readers. Now once I’ve exhausted friends and acquaintances, found every indie bookstore within a 200 mile radius, and sent out a few stacks of books to reviewers, I have no idea if print will outsell e-books. I suspect it might perhaps because the demographic for my book does tend to be a bit on the older side.

    But very interesting comments to support both sides. I certainly would hate for print to disappear, especially libraries. Is there anything more wonderful for a writer than an afternoon spent in a library, particularly one of those lovely big academic ones brimming with amazing source materials that are not digitized? Hey – I write a historical fiction; I LOVE academic libraries!

    Thanks for posting.

    • Molly Greene February 17, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      Hi Carol! I love your comment, thanks so much. Nobody wants print books to disappear, nor will they. I enjoy my ereader – and it’s a fabulous tool for editing WIPS – but there’s nothing better than a cup of cocoa, a fire in the wood stove, and a really, really good book.

  37. Gary Swaby April 30, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    I’ve been meaning to produce a print version of my own ebook for a while now, but it just never seemed important enough for me to dedicate the time and money to it.

    I think my specific project is better left as just an ebook to be honest, but I kind of wanted to go through the print process just for the learning experience.

    • Barbara Mojica April 30, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      I do just the opposite. My books are nonfiction history/travel picture books. Nothing like seeing the rich hand drawn illustrations in print. Recently released the first in my series in kindle which presents the picture format fairly well and will probably do the same with the other books in my series as time goes on. Print vs. e book is personal preference, but I have found that many children as well as adults prefer to hold the book in their hands.

      • Molly Greene April 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

        Hi Barbara! I agree, photo-heavy books need to be in print first and probably lose a little of their appeal when viewed on an e-reader. And to tell you the truth, I think almost everyone prefers the feel of a good book in their hands. Ebooks are easy to buy – one click on Amazon and it’s yours! – and tend to be less expensive and perfect for travel, waiting rooms, editing, beta reading, and so much more. I say we need both!