To hear Amazon tell it, yep, we’re there and getting closer to ridding ourselves of those awful, cumbersome creatures called printed books. As Julia notes in her post below, Amazon claims its Kindle sales topped paperback books for the first time. I don’t doubt Amazon’s figures, but I think it’s important to note that not everyone buys their books from Amazon, or, for that matter, other online sources. There are still a heck of a lot of folks who like to go to physical stores and browse through the many titles offered on the shelves. Maybe they grab a cup of coffee and a muffin while they’re at it, sit down, and chat with other customers. Maybe they discuss the latest bestseller, or some new cookbook they picked up on for next to nothing on the clearance table.
One can “browse” through Amazon’s titles in similar fashion (less the face-to-face contact), but really, are any of us ready to say it’s the same as going to an actual store and holding a book in our hands, paging through it, reading not only the first page but whatever page(s) we might like? This may just be my own personal taste, but I haven’t purchased a book I’ve read all the way through in quite some time. The linear notes on the back cover are interesting, the first few pages are well written (sometimes the first few chapters), and yet, by the middle of the story I’ve lost interest because the characters and or plot falls flat.
But, as is often the case, I digress. The purpose of my post today is to pass along what Julia and I have learned in our year-plus of blogging here on WordPress. E-books remain a tough sell. Readers email us asking if we have printed books to sell. And so, after giving the matter considerable thought, we researched some print on demand places, settled on one, and took the plunge. I started with 75 copies of a reprinted version of my Elvis/Nixon book. Julia has kindly been using it as a study course in some of her classes, thus I have sold out that first printing and ordered another. I have resisted putting the printed version up on this blog for sale, but that is changing as of today. When given the opportunity to purchase an e-book or PDF on CD as an alternative to buying the printed book, every single one of Julia’s students has gone with the printed version.
That doesn’t mean we’re giving up on e-books. We still believe it is the wave of the future. But, and it’s a BIG but . . . our own experiences out in the field, so to speak, tell us we simply aren’t there yet.
Within the next few days I will follow up on this post with a detailed discussion centering on the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing your work in printed format, so stay tuned.