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AuthorSimon Villeneuve

Ebook vs. Print: What Every Self-Published Author Needs to Consider

As an aspiring author, there’s a good reason to still publish a print book. But there’s also a good reason to consider skipping print and go digital.

ebook vs print

If you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’re caught in the middle—unsure which is right for you and your readers. It’s my goal to help.

Why you should publish an ebook

There’s no doubt that more people are buying ebooks than ever before. We’re becoming a digital culture. And it’s hard to beat the convenience of having all your favorite books in your pocket.

People have been able to read ebooks as PDFs for years. But we can attribute much of the growth of digital reading to Amazon. On November 19, 2007, they released the Kindle. It sold out in five and a half hours. And the device remained out of stock for five months until late April 2008. And it wasn’t until 2009 that Barnes & Noble came out with the Nook.

To say that there was a demand for better digital reading would be an understatement.

Amazon also made it easy for authors to publish digital books when they launched Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in November 2016. KDP complemented their print book self-publishing platform, CreateSpace. In December 2018, Amazon merged CreateSpace into KDP as one robust self-publishing platform for both print and digital books.

Here’s the insight: ebooks are becoming more popular every day. And as an aspiring author, there’s a very good reason to consider publishing an ebook.

Why you should publish a print book

On the other side, Inc. presented the case for why physical books are better than ebooks. Here’s a glimpse at their reasoning:

  • Physical books are more easily shared
  • Print books can be easily scribbled in and marked up
  • Physical books offer a much wider variety of fonts
  • Print books can be easily scribbled in and marked up
  • Reading print books sets a good example for my kids
  • Print books smell good
  • Print books last longer

From my experience, most of those reasons are all a bit subjective and can be argued either way. But PewResearch published a survey in January 2018 that proved print books are still more popular than ebooks.

The study showed that almost three-quarters (74%) of Americans have read a book in the past year. And 67% of those readers consume books in print form. Furthermore, roughly 40% of Americans won’t even touch an ebook but prefer reading print.

In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for whether it’s best to publish a print book or ebook. So, as an aspiring author, how do you know what to do?

In this article, I’m going to share a few important questions you should consider. And by the end, you should have an answer.

4 questions every self-published author needs to consider

Consider these four questions and evaluate your answers. My hope is that these questions will help you chose if you’re going to publish an ebook, print book, or both.

1. What’s the purpose of your book?

Why you’re writing your book should clarify your approach to publishing. In other words, your vision will determine your direction.

Say you’re writing and publishing a children’s book that you can pass down in the family. I’d recommend publishing a print book so you can pass it down by hand. You can sign it. And each rip, tear, and coffee stain adds to the story.

Your vision will determine your direction.

Say you’re publishing a book to sell to your blog or social media followers. You might want to consider publishing both print and ebook versions. That way your audience can choose how they want to consume your content.  

2. Which format do your readers want?

This is the most important question on my list to consider. As you’re the one spilling blood, it’s easy to make publishing decisions based on what you want. But I’d encourage you to flip that thinking upside down and make decisions based on what your readers will want.

For example, if you’re writing to an older audience, you may want to focus on print books. But, if you have a younger audience who reads books on e-readers or mobile devices, you may want to publish an ebook.

3. What kind of experience do you want to create?

A photography book like the Unsplash Book wouldn’t be enjoyable to look at on an iPhone. Instead, you’d want a full-color, physical book that you could put on your coffee table for guests to marvel at.

But, if you’re publishing a technical how-to book like Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth I’d recommend publishing an ebook. Your reader will have a much better experience clicking a hyperlink in your ebook than trying to type it into their internet browser.

4. What can you afford to produce?

Last but not least, what can you afford? While self-publishing a book isn’t expensive, there are some costs. And if you’re publishing a print book, there are a few extra costs to consider:

If you self-publish with KDP your costs to produce a print book won’t be too much more than an ebook. And with print-on-demand technology, you don’t have to pre-purchase print copies of your book. They’re printed (and you get charged) only when someone buys.

In the end, it’s always a good idea to count the cost and plan for what you can afford. If cost isn’t a concern, you can always produce both print and ebook versions of your book. Or, you can publish an ebook now and a print book later (or vise versa).

Let BookWorthy help you self-publish your book

If you’re ready to become a published author but you’re overwhelmed with all the details of self-publishing, consider registering for BookWorthy.

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About the Author

Simon Villeneuve

Simon Villeneuve is the Co-Founder of He's also a marketing consultant who helps organizations tell a better story that inspires their customers to action.