eBooks and Printed Books | Advice from Steven Spatz of BookBaby

by Steven Spatz, President, BookBaby

When it comes to eBooks and printed books for your self-published title, it’s not an either/or situation to find your maximum reading audience.

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Excerpted from BookBaby’s latest guide, 5 Steps To Self Publishing, Part III of our series looks at the benefits of producing eBooks and printed books for your self-published title.




By now, most self-published authors understand the benefits of selling eBooks:

  • Low cost of entry into the marketplace – affordable distribution that gives you worldwide reach and low manufacturing costs per unit (beyond the initial design, formatting, and conversion);
  • Unlimited and eternal shelf-space with nearly instant delivery to your fans;
  • Highly portable and customizable reading experience with readability across devices (tablet, smartphone, eReader, desktop).

Still, there remain quite a few “holdouts” who refuse to offer their books in the digital format. The usual argument is that a book – especially their book – is worth more than $2.99, or $4.99, or $9.99, or whatever the trending eBook price may be. In their stubbornness, they’re sticking to printed books, which warrant (at least in their minds) a higher price tag.

Unfortunately, these authors are confusing price with value. Truth be told, books are only worth what readers are willing to pay for them. For established authors, that can be a pretty good sum. But for most undiscovered authors, that’s usually not the case.

That’s why eBooks are the perfect medium for self-published authors. When you publish an eBook, the associated production costs are minimal, which means you can keep the price low and make up in volume what you lose in revenue per unit sold. This is a proven method for building readership, and print-only self-publishers are missing out on this opportunity.

Why printed books still matter

There’s a strong case for publishing a printed version of your book. Sure, eReaders and tablet devices are everywhere these days, but according to a recent study, only 4% of active readers purchase digital books exclusively. That means 96% of readers still purchase and read printed books. In fact, among a younger demographic (age 30 and below), 50% of readers purchase printed books only.

Why do most readers still prefer physical books to digital? According to a recent poll by Colour & Thing, it comes down to factors such as:

  • Readers enjoy the tactile experience. The heft of the book, the weight and smell of the paper, and the dog-eared pages; it’s tough to recreate all these in ones and zeros.
  • Printed books are best for collecting. Most readers love to flaunt their personal library on bookshelves.
  • Learning is often easier with print. Many folks find it easier to study with a bunch of books open on their table, rather than multiple browser windows or electronic devices.

When you publish a printed book with a great design and a striking cover, you can reach the majority of readers who are more likely to buy physical books. Your books can be placed in libraries, easily sold at readings and signing events, and are so convenient to have on hand in case you meet someone who seems interested in your writing!

So will it be eBooks and printed books?


When you publish both eBooks and printed books, you set yourself up to capture the widest possible audience: you have a product and price-point for everyone.

A free sample chapter or low-priced eBook may act as a “gateway drug” to your entire body of work, and once they’re hooked, your readers should be able to purchase your writing in their preferred format. Make sure you’re meeting your readers’ needs: that’s how you get paid, after all.

This post was excerpted and adapted from 5 Steps To Self Publishing: All the essential information you need to go from manuscript to marketplace. Download your free copy today.