eBook vs Print

There are so many articles about the virtues of each available on the internet, but none really help me out, so I am blogging about it and hopefully you beautiful wonderful readers can give me your opinions!

As a writer in New Zealand, my options are limited if I want to stick within my country, so the reality is that I’ll no doubt be looking for places to submit in the rest of the world. This leads me to my main problem:

a) if I go the traditional publishing route, my book may not be readily available for sale within NZ. I know some other kiwi writers who have had this happen – it’s been hard work to get their book into the country and accepted for sale for various reasons.

b) if I go with e-publishing, my book will be available everywhere, but how many people I know would actually read an e-book? Most of the friends and family who I know would want a copy don’t read on screens. They are into print books all the way and haven’t really been exposed to the e-publishing world.

What would you do?

If you have chosen one over the other what were the reasons behind that choice? I would love to hear from other writers and get their take on this.

Of course there is every chance that it won’t get accepted anywhere, lol but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Do I need to make a decision now? Or just approach people I think might be interested regardless of their method of printing?

I have to admit that I think there are some barriers to getting my book published the traditional print way: primarily, it’s a book that doesn’t have a clear genre to slot it into. It’s got some fantasty elements but they aren’t the primary elements of the story, it’s set in this world, this time period, it has a romantic subplot, and some other elements. So what does that make it? A good read: yes. Speculative fiction: yes. Easy to sell? Possibly not. They don’t really have a spec fic shelf in book stores yet and I think anyone picking it up and hoping for a fantasy, or a romance, might be disappointed to find something that is not typical of those genres.

I have no qualms about either route. About half of what I read now is epublished and I certainly don’t believe that the quality is worse than that found in traditionally published books.

So, give me your thoughts, pretty please. I would love to hear what you all have to say!


26 thoughts on “eBook vs Print”

  1. I think you’ve pinpointed the main pros and cons, but there’s also a third option. Assuming you can’t publish in New Zealand, publish with an overseas small press which welcomes your involvement in getting your book out there, and will send you a supply to try and get in local stores. Yes, it does require some leg work from you, and the big chains will likely be a bit snooty, but a lot of the independent stores are quite receptive, plus, of course, you can sell direct to family and friends. It won’t make it as widely available as would be ideal, but more so than either an ebook or a print copy not sold in the country. (They may, of course, also publish as an ebook).

    1. Good suggestion, though I don’t think I’d have the time for the kind of work for another couple years when the kids are a little older and a little less reliant on me. Or maybe that’s me being scared that I couldn’t pull it off and making excuses , or a bit of both! lol

      1. Oh cool, nice to know you have big plans for it πŸ™‚ I’m not sure I am savvy enough to do very well self publishing, but it’s always an option.

  2. Hi Cassie. I recently went through the same agonising after I was offered a contract by an e-book publisher. Australia is a bit of a backwater as far as print publishing goes. I can only imagine what NZ must be like.

    I signed the e-pub contract in the end, partly because I couldn’t say no to a bird in the hand, partly because I really do believe that print books will be obsolete within ten to twenty years. It is true, as you say, that an e-book published overseas (unlike a print book) will be available here. My publisher is in New York. On the other hand, you can’t easily buy an e-book reader in Australia yet (incredible as that must seem to European or American readers) so, in reality, no-one here is going to be able to read it.

    A friend of mine recently got a print contract with an overseas publisher. In Australia, you have to buy the book through Amazon (no Australian online bookshop lists it in their catalogues!) It sells at US$13.95 (trade paperback) but after currency conversion and postage, it cost me AU$30. So I don’t suppose he will sell many here except to friends and relatives.

    1. yeah that seems to be the crux of it really. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we get e-readers over in these parts of the world, it would certainly open up more possibilities.

  3. I’m sure you already know my opinions on this subject πŸ™‚ but I thought I’d share them here anyway.

    I self-publish, so right now I do both: I offer both a physical version of my novels and an ebook version. In the future, however, I foresee myself publishing exclusively in ebook form, even though I love holding a copy of one of my books in my hand.

    As Graham Storrs suggested above, we’re in a period of transition right now between print-on-paper publishing and electronic publishing. I believe that electronic publishing will ultimately win out, though it may take decades for that transition to complete itself.

    One of the advantages to electronic self-publishing is that I have the ability to give my work away if I choose to. And I do. Reproducing and distributing an ebook costs me next to nothing, and so I offer ebook versions of my novels for free. But I know that many writers would like to earn a living (or at least some supplemental income) off of their work, and I don’t begrudge them that. You gotta do what you gotta do.

    One disadvantage is that, currently, many book reviewers — even online book reviewers — won’t accept ebooks for review; they will only review a physical copy.

    But I will say this, though: far more of my readers have chosen to buy (or download for free) ebook versions of my novels than the physical version. But others’ mileage may vary.

    1. It would be interesting to know whether it’s the same for others, I might do some googling and see what I come up with.

      I would like to make a supplementary income from my writing – I have no intention of going back to full time work until my youngest is a bit older and it would definitely keep some people in my life happy knowing I was making something, anything, from my writing! lol

      It certainly is interesting times for publishing, I am excited by the changes but have no idea what will happen in the long term

      1. It would be interesting to know whether it’s the same for others, I might do some googling and see what I come up with.

        Well, since Mike took my name in vain… πŸ˜‰

        Not only do I do both, but I also sell my book as an app in the iTunes store (that was a fight).

        Surprisingly (because my book is 736 pages long) and in direct contradiction to J.M.’s experience, the paper version of my book far outsells the ebook version. I don’t know why.

        However, I don’t think it should be about one or the other; it should be about however the customer wants it. There are so many things competing with one’s story for eyeballs that one can’t afford to limit who and who cannot access it at least as easily as they get it from Amazon.

  4. Well, personally, I’ve got my heart set on the traditional publishing route… although I live 3 hours from New York City, the publishing capitol.

    What you could do, is go the eBook route and maybe to be creative, print your book out multiple times and actually design a front and back of your own to give to your friends and family members. Might cost a bit of ink, but good for those who aren’t exactly into eReading. ;p

    Just my .02

    1. I have printed out copies of novels for family in the past, and I could continue to do this. It isn’t cheap, lol but the handbound, hand made thing actually seems to be a positive when it comes to family and friends! If I did manage to sell to an e-publisher this would definitely be an option, so thanks for reminding me about it πŸ™‚

  5. “Do I need to make a decision now? Or just approach people I think might be interested regardless of their method of printing?”

    Find people who want to pub it first, then think about it further. I think Graham’s experience with publishing is a very good example.

  6. I would always start by looking for the publisher (or agent if you’re looking to publish outside NZ) who can offer the widest possible distribution for your book, provided that they publish work in the genre/s your book falls into. If that does turn out to be a traditional print publisher, the good news is that many of these are now starting to offer their books as e-books as well.

    Print book distribution is weird! My most recent book is the anthology “Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand”, which I edited with Mark Pirie. It’s published by Interactive Publications Ltd in Brisbane, and we have discovered that New Zealand bookshops, including those would normally carry poetry, are remarkably reluctant to take books from Australian distributors. As Anna suggests, it’s proved much easier for me to bring in copies of the book and sell them directly to NZ booksellers.

    Voyagers is available on Amazon as both a print book and a Kindle e-book. To my surprise, we’ve sold more copies of the print version via Amazon – if the Kindle was available in New Zealand, maybe things would be different.

  7. Yeah, I think until the Kindle, or something like it, is available here the market for e-books isn’t really able to take off like it seems to have in some other countries.

    Thanks for stopping by and posting, it’s great to hear from a published kiwi author! I wish I was in Wellington and could come to your talk in a couple week time, it’s so great to see more things happening for speculative fiction in NZ πŸ™‚

  8. One option, and I have no idea if you’d want to do this, is to choose romance or fantasy as the primary genre and adjust the story accordingly. An easier thing may be to enhance the romance story then it could slot into paranormal romance.

    There’s a whole lesson in Think Sideways on genre, finding which genre your story fits into or creating one for it to represent. It’s a problem I’m going to have with Family Trust I think, though it more easily fits into the slightly historical / literary NZ fiction that is around.

    1. I did consider that before I rewrote the novel last year and it depressed me no end. The story is what it is, and I’m really happy with it is, and have since decided (and chatted with people who have read it) that it sits fairly well in the urban fantasy genre so am going to run with that.
      I know there is a lot of info around which says you should stick to one genre, but oh well! lol if it doesn’t sell because it’s not quite right, then so be it. I’m not worried πŸ™‚

  9. I’m along the same lines as Merrilee–wait and see what happens when you find the publisher (or agent). They may be able to help guide you better in a decision.

    1. I can see how that is good advice πŸ™‚ I’ve loved reading all the feedback from this post, it’s been really fantastic.
      I think my world view is expanding somewhat, and I love it!

  10. @Mariah, thanks for stopping by and giving me another opinion, very interesting to see that your print book sales are higher than ebooks. Perhaps your readers prefer paper to screens? Very cool to know though.

    Every reader is different, and I can now see that catering to both those who like print, and those who don’t is the wisest choice, and it’s good to see more places running with both rather than just one option.

  11. I’ve started reading ebooks on my iPod, but thus far I tend to stick with public-domain works that I can download for free.

    1. there are a lot of free ebooks around, both previously published and self published, plenty to keep one occupied with! I told hubby I need an iphone or something and he laughed and said not before he gets one. So in other words, it’s never going to happen lol

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