Sunday, October 2, 2011


How new are eBooks to the publishing world?  Consider a recent conversation I had with a friend as he used his laptop:
Jimmy:  “Hey, can I show you something on your computer for a minute?”
Friend:  “Sure.”  (He turned around his laptop so I could use it.)
Jimmy:  “Check this out.”  (He looked over my shoulder as I went to iTunes and pulled up a page with my eBook, A Collection of Short Stories - written by robots.)
Friend:  “What’s that?”
Jimmy:  “I published an eBook.”
Friend:  “An e-What?”
Jimmy:  “An eBook.”
Friend:  “What’s an eBook?”
Jimmy:  “It is a book that you can read on your computer, your iPad, your iPhone, or your laptop.”
Friend:  (He looked at me like I was from Mars.)  “How do I read a book on the computer?”
Jimmy:  “Well, a regular book is big, thick, has a lot of pages, it can be cumbersome to carry around, and they can be pricey.  An eBook is the size of whatever you want to read it on - typically an iPad which is the size of a book but very thin - you can take it anywhere, you can turn pages just like on a book, you can make the font larger or smaller, you still have the cover art, the bio, the blurb, you can carry around a complete library full of books, and the price is typically much cheaper than a traditional book.  Plus with an eBook, the author can add sample chapters from upcoming books and connect with reader in ways they can not do with a traditional book.  It offers a much better experience for the reader.”
Friend:  “How do you get a copy of your book on your iPad or your laptop?”
Jimmy:  “Where do you normally buy your books at?”
Friend:  “Barnes and Noble.”
Jimmy:  “Barnes and Noble has a website that carries more stuff than their average store.  You can go to their website, download a copy of any book, and read it instantly.  Most of the big name author books are about $10 to $20, but most books average about $5 to $8.  Mine is $1.99.”
Friend:  “Why do they sell them so cheap?”
Jimmy:  “With a traditional book, it is very expensive to print them and stick them in a bookstore - the paper, printing, binding, design, shipping - it is all expensive and labor intensive.  They have a lot of money tied up in a product that may or may not sell well.  With an electronic version of the same book, the costs can be minimal to publish the same book.  Traditional publishers still have a lot of costs involved in publishing their material, so an eBook from a traditional publisher is still going to be more expensive than all the other eBooks - the electronic version of the book does not cost much to publish, but they need to make a large profit to cover their losses in areas where they are losing money, such as in traditional book printing methods.  On the flipside, an eBook author without a traditional publisher, such as myself, does not have the same costs involved so they can publish their book for the price of owning a computer and having a copy of Microsoft Word.  That is how minimal the costs are to publish an eBook.  That is how I was able to publish.  I did not wait for someone to tell me they liked my book and wanted to publish it - I just went and did it myself.  I am my own publisher.  If I had waited for a traditional publisher to publish it, a year might have gone by before it showed up in a bookstore, and then it might only be there for a short period of time.  But now, my book will be eternal and always available - if someone wants to read it, it is available to buy, day or night, 365 days a year, they can purchase it for a cheap price, and read it immediately.”
Friend:  “An eBook?  Hmmm... that sounds pretty cool - I’ll have to check yours out.”
And that is how I sold a copy of my book to a friend - word of mouth.

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