“there is a difficulty in marketing something that has no physical presence.” That’s from a recent article on The Bookseller website. I’ve been mulling it over and I’m not so sure I buy that. The latest Amazon numbers would indicate the opposite—that ebooks make up a huge percentage of both dollar sales and number of books sold. One thing that’s not up for debate is the price appeal of digital, at least for books from indies and small-to-medium publishers, which typically sell for anywhere from FREE to $3.99. (“You’ll Be Thinking of Me” currently sells for $2.99.) Since Amazon stopped discounting sale prices of books from some of the big publishers (typically referred to as The Big 5) the price tag of their e-books has risen and sales seem to reflect that. In fact, in 2014, 54% of the bestselling ebooks on Amazon were from small or medium publishers like mine, indies made up 18% and only 19% were from the big publishers, like Simon & Schuster or Macmillan. When voracious readers see that a hardback book from a large publisher can cost upwards of $28 and an ebook of a lesser known publisher or author costs $2.99, guess which one many readers are willing to lay out their hard-earned money for and which one they’ll check out from the library?
That said, from an author’s standpoint, there are advantages to having a physical book that you can hold in your hand, show-off, sign; Goodreads doesn’t allow giveaways of ebooks; several book reviewers are sticking to “real books”; and you can’t go to booksellers or book festivals and show everyone the fabulous book you’ve written. Unless you want to carry around your e-reader.
And I know for a fact there still are plenty of tree-book fans who don’t have an e-reader and have no plans to buy one. I’m a huge fan of real books myself. And it’s not a generational thing. My daughter has a disdain for e-readers (even though Mom’s book is an e-book).
You’ll Be Thinking of Me will be out in paperback later this year and I’ll join the ranks of authors with “real” books, but my publisher has already warned me that physical books don’t sell well. It’s the e-books, they say, that fly off the virtual shelves. Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m looking forward to holding it my hands, showing it off, waving it at people at the mall, flashing it at those lucky passengers sitting next to me on the plane, hawking it to the receptionist at the doctor’s office and offering (begging) to leave a copy in the waiting room, tucking it under my pillow at night.
Reading is reading, you may say, but you can’t do any of those things with an e-book. And I’m looking forward to having the option of making a spectacle of myself (and my book).