Ebook or Print?

I have just been reading an article in ‘ The Atlantic’, an American magazine, which confirms my own views where the ebook is concerned, at least in the UK.

I spend many an hour at the sharp end of book buying ie undertaking national book signing events etc. I see what readers are buying, what they look for and what impact the ebook is having on print, at least where commercial fiction is concerned and after all, this is where all the bucks are for the publishing industry.

I do not believe that the ebook is having such a devastating effect on publisher’s profits as has hitherto been the fear. Pricing of ebooks may well remain in the doldrums, but as I have always maintained the ebook has never been a threat per se. It merely demands a different kind of business model.

Publishers can easily exploit the ‘remainder’ nightmare of print, the sale or return losses and thus all the administration costs involved therein. The ebook may well retail at less than print (which is only fair, there are negligible set up costs etc) but this is offset by low-cost production and distribution.

Having been out there as it were, I estimate that the ebook now has about 30% of the book buying market and for now, in my own view, it has peaked. I reach this conclusion by noting the number of comments I receive eg are they on Kindle? are they on Kobo? (and Kobo is catching up on Amazon, again judging by my own experience, having done countless signings in WHSmith stores – and Waterstones – , with more to come) and the reduction in print copies sold – recessionary influences notwithstanding, which where book buying is concerned I would maintain is minimal.

NB It should however be noted here, that hard-backs are apparently taking a bit of a pasting from the ebook, at least this is what mainstream book store managers tell me.

One final observation. I have seen minus zero evidence that social media sells books, be they print or electronic. The internet market place is saturated with books by established, mainstream and aspiring self-published authors. Frankly if you’re a new author, do not be fooled by the internet delusion. Facebook and Twitter are most certainly not the answer and neither will sell your books.

I firmly believe (and I have ample evidence to prove this) that only one thing sells a book.

Word of mouth – and providing of course, it’s a good read in the first place!



One thought on “Ebook or Print?

  1. So many books, so little time to read them.

    Why do we end up selecting the few that we do read? You can’t judge a book by it’s cover that’s for sure, there’s even a well known saying to support this theory. The saying is also applied to people.

    So many people so little time to get to know them.

    When you read a book you need to ignore the cover because covers are no indication of the contents. Saying this though, we can all be conned by an impressive piece of artwork that hones in on our primitive: desires, needs and fears.

    You can read this on the back of a book sometimes.“It’s a great page turner!” It probably has all the well formalised mechanics of “reader gripping”, the necessary essential elements of tried and tested literary devices that any author should be aware of. Has it that added ingredient though? Something out of the ordinary.

    What do we usually know about the author? – basically not a lot – a small inclusion of some minor details in the first few pages and a photo of the author at the back.

    So how do we choose a book to read?

    People sometimes read a book on recommendation by word of mouth……“I’ve read a book about about a bunch of mutant vampire Nazi’s contaminated by nuclear bomb experiments at the end of WW2 who took over a small island off the coast of Great Britain and have leaked a mind altering substance into the water supply rendering the locals into hopeless automatons that have become slaves for their leader who has been constructed from the DNA of a moustache that was preserved by an early cryogenic process developed by a lesbian division of Waffen – SS scientists who were intent on creating the next Reich. The islanders eventually being saved from their hellish existence by the intervention of the Shoalin monks from the mysterious monastery on the island who only drink Perrier water as a result of a 14th century trade agreement with France…. Best book I have read in ages!”

    Occasionally, a recommendation should be ignored.

    Then there is the case of being given a book. I was given one not so long ago. It was called “ The Bent Brief”. The book was by an author called Julian Ruck.

    I started reading the book and couldn’t resist a quick “net” click.

    To my delight, I found myself in the 2 for 1 scenario. The story inside the book and a story outside the book. You can’t say that for most authors so I think something quite unique has been created. The combination of the author and his character “Edwin” is a really genuine entertaining experience. A new literary genre and quite original, I can’t think of anything in comparison.

    I highly recommend “The Bent Brief” and a click on the author’s personal journey into “grub street.”

    You get more than just a novel, thrown in is: a treatise on the maverick world of self publishing, a journal on character assassination, a manual on smear campaigning and above all – the story of a man who stuck his head above the parapet.

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