When writing a book, one burning book writer question will inevitably be, “To eBook or tBook?” “Screen or page?” “Updated or antiquated?”
I must admit, I am a sucker for the traditional book. The sound of pages brushing against one another, the smell of the ink, the heaviness in my hand…when I crack open a book, I hear the creak of the virtual treasure chest lid. I knit my gaze into the raised letters and get lost in someone else’s topographical, tangible soul spill.
But beneath my preferences, I do understand that a book delivers the same story or message regardless of the medium. I think it’s a lot like seeing a movie. I can spend $8.50 for a ticket at the theater, plus $23.00 for Goobers, a barrel of popcorn, and a silo of soda, or I can stop by a convenience store, grab a dollar DVD from the box and pick up a few human-sized snacks for $5.00. The difference is in the experience.
Earlier this year, AAP (Association of American Publishers) reported a 16 percent increase in eBook sales, along with a similar decrease in tBook sales. This is nothing new, and prospects into the future predict more of the same — but it might not be all about reader preference. In a sunny case scenario, an author can make 17 to 70 percent profit from an eBook, while only realizing 8 to 15 percent from the sale of every print brook. Surely, an eBook costs much less than a tBook, but consumers are more likely to buy 14 eBooks for $1.99 each than they are to buy 1 traditional hardback for $27.00. There’s perceived value in quantity, and therefore, authors run a good chance of making more money through digital media.
Of course, there’s career value in being published traditionally — there’s a public perception that if an agent and an editor like it, so will most other readers. However, let’s not forget about renegade artists like Pearl Jam, who don’t give a rat’s asset about fame. They simply want to express themselves and please their audience. They have, in result, established their own mass following by “alternatively” bucking the system.
Considering that eBook sales are up (and up, and up), it seems that book writers in this realm are getting the best of both worlds: they’re simultaneously bucking the system and adhering to it.
Writing a book is no small task. Once it’s done, you want to be sure you make the right decision about how the public will access it. Your audience matters. Your genre matters. Your monetary requirements matter. With so many variables to consider, it makes great sense to consult with a writer who’s been there.
As a reader, I think I’ll stick to turning pages for now. Maybe after I grow weary of carrying a reading light, avoiding contact with cheese curl stains on library loans, and straining backpack-bearing vertebrae for the sake of kinesthetic experience, I’ll go to a digital reader. In the meantime, I will encourage people who are contemplating writing a book to consider digital publishing. In fact, I would encourage bucking the system. Most of the best ones have.