Friday, March 18, 2011

Print vs. epubbing, what's an author to do?

Oh ‘tis a tough time to be in the book business, no? I passed by our poor sad Border’s store the other day. The shelves are nearly bare and now they’re even selling the fixtures. How sad to see bookcases and overhead lighting being carted off. I am conflicted about this since just this month I published my first e-book (a personal effort, not through a publisher.) Was I disloyal to the print market? Have I contributed to the fall of the written word? I do not own an ebook reader but I have felt the shift more and more from readers who tell me they’ve downloaded the Kindle version of my suspense books. I’ve also encountered more and more articles about how publishers are easing away from print books due to the high cost of distributing and keeping them on store shelves.

Are print books vanishing? Personally, I don’t think so, but I do feel that ebooks are taking a more important place in the publishing world. Good or bad? I don’t know, but I do know that the ebook market gives me freedom as an author. The book I epubbed was an inspy romantic comedy, outside my “brand” as a suspense writer, but a book that I believe in and enjoyed writing tremendously. Epubbing put the power of the publisher in my hands and I could produce the book that I desired, without restrictions or comments like “the market for rom coms is very limited in CBA.” What is the down side? No one buys the book and I’m out the bit of money I spent to have it formatted. The upside? I became Dana Mentink, publisher, with total control over my book.

When I started in this business, experts told me epubbing was bad. If anyone can publish a book electronically, what are the quality controls? What’s to say the book isn’t poorly written? Unedited? A waste of money? There are no guarantees, but then again, it costs a fraction of the price of a hardcover so the risk is minimal. You don’t like the ebook, you don’t buy anything else (epubbed or print version) from that author. That being said, I enjoy nothing more than the feel of a print book in my hands. I’m torn between two worlds. How about you? What are your thoughts on epubbing vs. print books?


Anonymous said...


Any book that is published in paperback is taken much more seriously by the reader than a digital book. For the things that you have mentioned,I am hesitant to pick up a book not knowing how much effort the writer has given to have their work published without any mistakes that would by caught by and agent or an editor otherwise.
I still love paperbacks. I want to own the books that I love. I don't trust the technology all the way. Technology may fail us.
But I did like the features offerred on electrical devices like dictionary, highlighting, or typed notes which are all stored in a small piece of an equipment.
That said there are pluses and minuses.
Anna Labno

Lisa Mondello said...

My first few books were published over 10 years ago in e-book and POD format. And I have an ancient Frankling Ebook reader and LOVED to read books on it years ago. So I'm not new to e-pubbing either. I can enjoy a book no matter what format it's in. My dear daughter would rather turn paper pages though and says she'll go kicking and screaming to an ebook reader.

Most of the time I only read a book once, even though I hold on to my "keepers". Having them in electronic form will certainly clean a lot of shelves in my house. Right now paperback books are taking over. My only worry is how I'm going to get all those free books from the RWA conference if they're all on ebook? (What? No free books?)

Dana Mentink said...

It's so interesting, isn't it? Print vs. epub is a big issue. I didn't epub until after I print published 8 books or so. Regarding your comment, Anna, I would probably not buy an ebook from an author who has never been published for the reasons you note. I would however, buy a digital book from an author who has a track record with a traditional publishing house. I suppose the best of both worlds is to epub and print pub but I believe there's more profit for the publishing houses in ebooks, from what I've heard.

Shawna Williams said...

There is also the misconception that all ebooks are self-published. There are traditional epublishers. Whereas publishers that have been around for a while, and are now putting books into digital format. Many newer presses start off with digital format, and then progress to print.

Dana Mentink said...

True, Shawna. Epubbed can mean a few different things. I think in the romance industry there are quite a few sites devoted entirely to ebooks.

Patsy said...

I am torn also between an ebook and a printed copy. The ebooks are more convient to carry on trips, but I do love to hold a printed book.

Dana Mentink said...

Maybe we'll have to figure out a way where ebooks and print books can peacefully coexist! :)

PamelaTracy said...

I love my Kindle. I've said it more than once. I will say, though, that Kindle offers lots of free books, and after being introduced to some very poorly written and edited books, I've started paying attention to who the publisher is.
But, I've discovered a new author to me, Lorena McCourtney, and I went and purchased her backlist. Right now I'm reading a small press lawyer memoir and loving it.Scary, the changes, though.