It’s a great idea for authors to consider publishing an electronic version of their book. E-books are a growing market and gaining a lot of attention – especially with the recent launch of Apple’s new iPad. But don’t dismiss traditional paper books too quickly.
Here are ten reasons why e-books have a long way to go before they can be a real, mass-market alternative to physical books.
1. Variety. Books come in all shapes, sizes, bindings, and types. E-book readers are still relatively small and their displays are restricted to one size and shape.
2. Accessibility. In order to read an e-book, a person needs a computer, an e-book reader, or some other device capable of displaying the file. A physical book requires nothing more than the ability to read.
3. Cost. Books are inexpensive. E-books are usually cheaper. But e-book readers are much more expensive. Especially if you want a larger screen size or color. Eventually, the prices will come down – but that’s going to take a while.
4. Kids. The children’s book market is huge. E-books could offer more interactive possibilities in future, but right now there’s almost no color (see #5) and not many parents are going to give an e-book reader to their 3-year-old.
5. Color. There’s more to the book market than plain text. Many books are full-color, or at least have full-color sections. For some books – like design-related manuals, or educational textbooks, or children’s books – color is a must. Most e-book readers still can’t handle anything more than shades of gray, and the ones that can (like the iPad) use an electronic screen that is much harder on the eyes than paper.
6. Openness. Physical books are inherently “open source.” Nobody owns a copyright or patent on taking some pages and binding them together. The issue of quality aside, anyone can make a book – and anyone can read a book made by anyone else. There are already several conflicting and “closed” e-book formats, designed to tie readers in to one particular company or store.
7. Durability. Books are durable and can go almost anywhere. They can be ripped, folded, bashed, bumped, taped, squeezed, scribbled on, highlighted, underlined, thrown across the room, cried on, stuffed in a bag, and still retain their core function. E-book readers are much more fragile – and, of course, expensive.
8. Replacement. In the event a book is damaged beyond all use, or lost, or stolen, it’s easy enough to simply buy another copy. E-book readers? Sure, if you want to spend another several hundred dollars.
9. Sharing. When someone reads a good book, one of his or her most common responses is to want someone else to read it. Books are easy to lend, borrow, and give away. Most people will not be lending out their e-book readers – and trying to “lend” someone an e-book is either complicated or impossible.
10. Independence. An author, or small publishing company, can easily sell books from a website, a speaking engagement, or in bookstores. E-book distribution is currently limited to the internet, with big companies trying to monopolize the market.
WinePress Publishing has been partnering with authors since 1991. We are always at the cutting-edge of technology, but we have the expertise and experience to avoid getting swept up in the latest hype. Authors continue to trust WinePress because we provide honest and balanced advice. Publishing, whether traditional or electronic, can be a minefield of details, false steps, and disappointments. WinePress enables authors to reach their personal goals by giving them a firm foundation and a steady guiding hand.
We’re very excited about the potential of e-books and, very soon, we will be launching a great e-book option to complement our other packages. But, for now, an e-book is only a small piece of the whole publishing picture – and WinePress is uniquely capable of fitting every piece together with common sense and sophistication.
Consider carefully whether an electronic version is a good fit for your book. If you think it is, be sure to work with a publisher like WinePress who can provide a professional service. Whether electronic or paper, quality always stands out.
Malcolm Fraser is the Executive Officer at WinePress Group, and serves as the assistant to the Executive Publisher. He helps to oversee and coordinate all of WinePress’ different departments, handles customer service issues, contract development, and also contributes to programming and designing websites and author blogs.