Opinions are divided on whether or not it’s a good idea to publish in print as well as digitally nowadays. Certainly it can save a lot of time and added expense to only publish digitally, and some authors are achieving success without releasing a print version. However, I like to see a book in print, as do many readers so I thought I’d put together some of my thoughts on the argument for publishing a print version of your book.
1) Book shops – They attract a local readership and local publicity. For example, if you hold a book shop signing, you stand a good chance of being featured by the press in the area where the book shop is situated. Regional authors often start by building up a following in the area where their novels are based. This makes sense because these readers will identify with the places and customs explored through the author’s books.
It’s a mutual arrangement with local book shops – you are supporting the business by giving something of interest to draw in extra customers e.g. a book signing event, and the book shop in turn is helping to get your book noticed.
2) Libraries – With a print version of your book you can sell to libraries, which gets the word out to a wider audience. Every copy sold to a library could be read by numerous people who may recommend your books to others. Some people who borrow books from libraries also buy books so they may become firm fans who will buy future books by the same author.
3) Reader preference – Some people still prefer print and, in particular, many people like to get their hands on an author signed version.
4) Goodreads Giveaways – This is where you put up a few print copies of your book on the Goodreads site to be given away to participating readers. Goodreads chooses the winners from the participants. The advantage of giving away a few copies is that many people add your book to their “to be read” lists when they enter the Giveaway.
Having only published one novel, the jury’s still out on this one for me. I would surmise that the benefits from having a Goodreads Giveaway are ongoing rather than an immediate route to sales. This is because many readers on Goodreads have thousands of books on their “to be read” lists so it could be a couple of years (if ever) before some of them read my book.
I wouldn’t underestimate the power of Goodreads though and I think it could be especially advantageous if you have more than one novel available. If my book reaches the top of a lot of lists in a couple of years’ time, and those people like my book, they may decide to purchase other books as well as recommending my book to other readers on the site. I can therefore see how the snowball effect could kick in.
5) Other opportunities – I have been invited to take part in a literature festival in the summer as a result of having my book stocked by a Manchester book shop. Having your book in print can open up similar opportunities.
6) Presents – It’s easier for people to buy print books for birthday and Christmas, presents for their family and friends. Although the bulk of books sold are now digital, sales of print books will boost your overall sales figures.
7) Amazon – Having a print version of your book available looks good on Amazon because Amazon shows the savings that purchasers are making when they buy the Kindle version. The majority of people buying books on Amazon choose to buy Kindle rather than print versions, so this is a good thing especially as independent authors tend to price their Kindle versions low.
N.B. Having said all the above, I have published my short story book in digital format only, but I have based this decision on the fact that it isn’t cost effective to publish in print for a book of that size.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic. Do you prefer to publish only a digital version or do you like to see your book in print too? Are there any other reasons for publishing a print version which I have not covered above, or are there any disadvantages?