As an author, there comes a time when a decision needs to be made whether to publish a print or digital version (or both) of the book. While most people would assume that publishing an e-book is less costly than publishing a print book, that may not necessarily be the case. When deciding on whether to take the digital or print route, there are numerous factors that needs to be considered.
Whether publishing a print or e-book, both incur common costs such as typesetting, editing, cover design/illustration and marketing. Text won’t magically appear on a page by itself, let alone be grammatically correct or without spelling errors. A book’s cover is what consumers look at first, so eye-catching covers are a must. And products don’t sell without promotional and marketing efforts put behind it. These are all costs associated with either a print book or e-book.
Even though electronic books don’t require paper, printing or shipping, e-books need to be configured in various formats (ePUB, PDF, AZW) for reading on multiple e-readers. This is a really important point as e-books need to flow for it to be enjoyable for the reader. Even different models of Kindle will display the page differently. There’s simply no one size fits all. If you’re not a technical person, you will need to hire someone to do this for you. Once all that is complete, you can also expect to pay online distributors such as Amazon for carrying the e-book.
Then there are the intangible costs associated with creating a print vs e-book. Digital books can suffer from “out of sight, out of mind”, as a physical book acts as a reminder to pick up and read as it sits on a nightstand or coffee table. An e-reader can store hundreds of books, to which your e-book could get lost with all the others that have been downloaded.
Many authors have given their e-book away for free in the hopes of building their email list. But there’s no guarantee that they won’t unsubscribe after downloading your e-book. If you like to run contests, winning a print book (to which you can autograph) has more impact than winning a digital version.
In the end, you must know your audience, do your research and weigh all the factors before making the final decision between a print book and e-book.