If you have been around here on my blog for a while, you’ll know that I published my two fairy tale retelling novels almost a year ago, exclusively for Kindle. I had a bunch of -I think- rational reasons for not wanting to publish in hardcopy, but the people kept asking. So here’s the breakdown of the pros and cons for digital versus paper books.
- It’s digital, duh
This is the biggie for me, I’m not going to lie. The freedom from paper is very attractive. It’s 2019, folks, the Amazon is on fire, we have 11 years until the planet is past the point of no return, the ice caps are melting, the Great Coral Reef is dying. Do you really need That Smell so badly? Do you need it from every book you buy, or can you not have one paper book on hand to sniff while you’re reading on your e-reader? At the risk of being unfriendly, I have very little patience for people who use the argument that ‘It’S nOt tHe SaMe!’ for insisting on paper copies of everything. Also the argument that they look better on a shelf. How shallow can you be?
THE AMAZON IS ON FIRE.
- Saves space
Sorry about your bookshelf, but imagine not having a bookshelf, and freeing up all that space in your home for a wall garden or a nice couch from which you can enjoy your digital bookshelf. Same number of books, but available from all of your devices simultaneously, which means you can have infinite copies without taking up any additional space.
And I feel like I need to remind people for what feels like the millionth time, the Kindle and Nooks apps are, have always been, and likely will always be completely and totally free, and sync across all platforms. So, whether you have an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Mac, PC, Note, iPad, iPod, Kindle Fire, Nook, or anything else that connects to the internet and has apps, you can have as much of your library as your memory card can hold. You can read on planes, at home, probably in space by now, I don’t know. I have a dry bag for my phone, so though I haven’t actually tried it, I’m sure I could read even underwater. Can you read a paper book underwater?
Plus, that massive stack of books you want to read but know you probably won’t is a lot easier to hide from yourself and visitors when it’s quietly tucked away in your e-reader.
- Often cheap, though sometimes not
Because ebooks don’t need to be printed and shipped, it’s a lot cheaper to produce them. On the other hand, digital copies don’t get marked down for being previously owned.
- Variable text size and Text-to-Speech
Some people have trouble reading font in physical books. Ereaders usually come with a function to adjust the size of text, and sometimes the font itself, to be easier to read.
Plus, for people who can’t read well, are busy with their eyes, really struggle with Jane Austen (I don’t judge your literature tastes, don’t judge mine) and can’t afford $15/month for Audible, that creepy computer voice helps out a lot.
I don’t know how many reference books you read, but I really benefit from a search function. No more incorrect or missing index entries!
- User friendly for maker
Now, maybe this is more for me than you, but it’s A Lot easier to format an ebook than a physical book. A lot of people build entire freelance businesses on the backs of formatting paperbacks for authors, it’s that tedious. I do my own, of course, because it’s nothing but the best for you guys.
I know, I know, it will look super cool to have copies of my babies all lined up on a shelf, nice and neat and shiny.
BUT THE AMAZON IS ON FIRE.
- That Smell
Librochor, the faintly vanilla scent of the volatile organic compounds produced by the slow decay of wood pulp. It’s lovely, I agree, but sniff books that already exist, mmkay?
THE AMAZON IS ON FRIGGIN FIRE.
- Low tech/offline
So, some people like to go offline for short periods and unplug. I get that. But a, if you download books to the e-reader, you don’t need the internet. B, most e-readers have a function where you can adjust the backlight, paper colour, and font style and colour to reduce eye strain.
- Can be gifted
So can e-readers, and they’re getting cheaper.
- Often cheaper, though sometimes not
They can be sold at a discount for being previously owned. That said, the cost to produce and ship them often makes them more expensive up front, especially if you buy them from brick-and-mortar bookstores.
- More difficult to format
God, they’re a pain, lol. But again, that’s my problem, not yours.
So, in conclusion, it’s nice to hold that fragrant, hefty tome with the pretty binding and the text that sits up juuuuust a little off the page, but is it really worth it at the expense of the environment, so it can sit around, collecting dust, or else be gifted to someone and take up space in their house?
That being said, despite my vehement protestations, the people want paperbacks and I live to serve, so on September 21, I’m yielding to pressure and rereleasing my books for paper publication.
HOWEVER, they will be a little more expensive. Here’s a breakdown of why (it’s not just spite, I promise):
- Even on a per-order basis, Amazon charges almost $4 to print paper books, which is still the cheapest I’ve found anywhere. (Yes, I know bulk printers cost less, per book, overall, but the bulk price is still an upfront cost I flat out can’t afford, and I don’t have anywhere to put that many books that, as an unknown indie author, won’t sell quickly. Trust me, I’ve agonised over the math since before I published, last year)
- Therefore, a paperback roughly the size of mine has a mandatory minimum list price of almost $7 (otherwise, they can’t give my me 60% royalties, and that’s if I only sell on Amazon.com. In order to expand my readership, the minimum list price is $9.99.)
- In order to turn any kind of profit, I have to list them at at least $10 (which is the original list price of the eBooks, anyway; and again, that’s IF I sacrifice expanded distribution), but
- Plus, since I’ll be donating to the One Tree Planted charity, I’ve chosen to go up to $12, so that I can donate at least 1 tree per book sold. (Accordingly to some admittedly conflicting equations I found online, one tree can produce enough wood for a few hundred books the size of mine, so one dollar goes a long way to undoing the damage of printing paperbacks.)
- Even at $12 per book, I’m only going to make $3.21 per item sold, which is less than half what I was selling the eBooks for.
- (FYI, I’ve also repriced the Kindle versions from $8 down to $4.99, you know, because I love you ❤ )
One Tree Planted is a USA-based charity which plants a tree for every single dollar planted, and since 2014, have planted 25 million trees in North America, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
So, maybe you’re not used to paying $10 for a self-published paperback fantasy, but hey, it’s a good story (if I do say so myself), you’re supporting me in doing what I love, you get to have that nice shiny good-smelling book on your shelf, and rather than casting your money at some vaguely-worded Amazon relief charity that despite their good intentions can’t make Bolsanaro any less of a shitbag, you’re actually making up for that paper book by contributing to reforestation in a tangible way.
You know, BECAUSE THE AMAZON IS ON FIRE.