Michelle Isenhoff

Paperbacks–So Last Century?

Lots of indie authors are getting in on the ebook craze, and why not? It’s affordable, doable, and just so cool to see your novel up on Amazon. But fewer authors, it seems, take the time to create a paperback version of their novel. I’m here to say, you’ve gone through all the trouble of writing your masterpiece. Make it available to everyone!

Why paper?
Ereaders have been all the rage for awhile now, and ebooks are capturing a greater share of the market each year—I saw 25% in 2011! But you’ll notice that still leaves 75% squarely on the paperback side. You see, not everyone has an ereader. Not everyone wants and ereader. In my not-so-scientific observation of the blogging world over the past year and a half, perhaps half of the book reviewers I run across still accept only paperback. And these are people fully immersed in the digital world—bloggers and writers. What about all those people who don’t live online? What about the older generation which is much more hesitant to sell out to the computer age? What about those younger-than-forties who still like the feel and smell of paper in their hands? Yes, you’re missing a huge audience by not creating paperbacks.
But paperbacks are so 1990’s, you say. They cost more. They take up space. They use up natural resources. They wear out. They’re heavy. They take more time and effort to produce. They require different formatting than ebooks. They require different software. They’re tying me to an old project when I want to move on to a new one. They’re an ever-living pain in the you-know-what!
But my former arguments haven’t gone away, have they?
Why not paper?
Let’s look at your accomplishments so far. You’ve already spent years writing a book. Then you paid for editing and created a cover image. You’ve spent time creating blurbs, tweeting, and asking for reviews. You’re on Goodreads and Facebook. Why not put in a little more effort and reap bigger rewards? It’s not as intimidating as you might think.
So how do you do it?
Sorry. This post isn’t meant to be an in-depth tutorial. (But I have written one of those, if you have time to look it up.) This is simply a consideration of the pros and cons and an encouragement to get out there and learn the process for yourself.
A Few Considerations Before Starting
If you do choose to go the paper route, I would strongly recommend pay-on-demand. This means a digital copy of your book will be stored on your printer’s database so readers can order as few as one copy at a time. Prices will be slightly higher than mass-produced books—and the longer the book, the higher the cost, but as children’s books hover in the 50,000 word range, my prices have always remained fairly reasonable. Pay-on-demand also means that you, the author, will not be responsible to pay for, store, and distribute a 500- or 1,000-book print run.
Also, I advise not rushing, no matter how strong the urge to get your book out there quickly. New formatting requires further editing. Order a proof copy. Check and double check for errors, particularly spacing and page breaks. When you find them, fix them and proof it again. It may take a few tries, but having an error free book is worth it.  Get it right the first time.
And finally, don’t expect your paperback to be a best-seller. It won’t be on the shelves of Walmart. It won’t travel through the avenues the big six publishing houses use. You may be able to convince the local bookstore to stock a few copies, but most readers will not find your book. However, if you’ve created a clean, professional ebook and done your marketing homework, you will create more and more demand for your paperback.
Have them ready!
Now tell me your thoughts. Would you consider creating a paperback? Have you already? Was it worth your time? 

Paperbacks–So Last Century?

4 thoughts on “Paperbacks–So Last Century?

  1. I think I will always like “real” books more than ebooks. I think that authors would like to see their books in a paper book form. Although, I do like how easy ebooks are to use and carry around!

    1. It took me a while, but I think I actually crossed the line and I like ebooks MORE than paper! All based on convenience, of course. But you’re right, it is very cool to hold a copy of your own book in print!

  2. I am happy to have my books in both e-reader and printed form so everyone has a choice. Like you, Michelle I am really starting to warm up to my e-readr but I still love my printed books and my house is full of them.

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