e-Books

Should you consider publishing an e-book rather than a proper paper book?

It is worthwhile to have a look at this form of book because it is so prevalent these days.

Firstly an e-book is not the same as a printed book. The content is often much shorter with subheadings and active links to websites and supporting research. The word count can be as little as 30 000 words whereas a printed book usually requires 75 000 to 100 000 words.

Books with diagrams and illustrations are not suitable as e-books because they are ‘flowable’ documents. In other words, they shrink to fit a cell phone in which case diagrams become too small to see.

An e-book has a lower cost to produce and can thus be sold cheaper. Development costs remain the same, but there are no print and shipping costs involved. For the purchaser, it can be very satisfying to get instant delivery rather than having to wait for some days to get your book.

Other big differences are:

  • You do not ever own a Kindle or epub edition. You only have the right to read it.
  • If your device comes to the end of its life you will lose your e-books unless you buy a new device.
  • eBooks cannot be re-sold since you never own it
  • Work books are not suitable as e-books.

e-Books do require a certain expertise to get a professional result. Too often have I seen badly made e-books which present with large spaces between the paragraphs and even whole pages missing. In my experience the best guide to getting it right can be found in Smashwords Guide to creating .epub files. If you have written the content in MS Word it will end up with a lot of hidden junk coding which screws up your final result when converting to .epub or .mobi. Mark Coker’s Guide to cleaning out this hidden code is simply the best.

e-Books can be used as a kind of précis and introduction to your main work and could be sold to people who want just a taste of what you offer for a small sum of money.  In that way, it is a form of advertising with its own small income stream and none of the costs. That is kind of a sweet deal for everyone.

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