3 Reminders about eBooks Versus Paper Books


As writers, we race to stay up with all of the changes.

If you’re like me, you may have tried new social media sites or technology you wouldn’t normally try. After all, writers need to have a web presence in order to help with marketing and connecting with readers.

And writers need to know the latest eBooks trends and ePublishing options in order to stay on top of the rapidly changing publishing industry.

In fact, I bought my Kindle primarily for the purpose of understanding how they worked. I wanted to have firsthand knowledge of what it was like to purchase and download an eBook and also how it felt to read from a paperless device. I reasoned since readers would be able to purchase my books on eReaders, shouldn’t I have some basic knowledge of how they work?

And yet as we writers become immersed in the changing technology, we tend to get in a bubble and think that everyone else is in the bubble with us. We believe as technology advances, everyone keeps as up-to-date as us.

But the truth is, not everyone is moving at the same technological speed we are.

I’m reminded of this from time to time when I interact with readers. I often get handwritten notes in the mail from readers. And recently I received TWO letters from women who said this:

It was nice to see your P.O. Box included in your book, as we do not have a computer.”

I don’t have a computer (not good at it). Let me know if you write any other books—the titles, etc.

No computer? That may sound archaic to those of us whose fingers are super-glued to a keyboard. But it just shows that not everyone is as bonkers about computers and the internet as we are.

Wirt Library, Bay City MI
Recently, I was speaking at a library in Bay City, Michigan, to a group of 50-60 people at a lunch program called “Booked for Lunch.” I shared about my writing journey, research process, and had a power point presentation giving some of the background information of my books.

At the end of my talk, I left time for questions and answers. In the course of the conversations, I mentioned that my eBook of The Doctor’s Lady was on sale on Kindle (at that time was a part of Amazon’s ‘What’s the Big Deal’ promotion). I asked for those who had eReaders to raise their hands. And as far as I could tell, NOT ONE person raised his or her hand.

What’s my point?

Well, I have three actually:

1. Know your genre readers and their demographics.

A recent Romance Writers of America survey indicated: One-third of romance book buyers (31 percent) surveyed currently read eBooks, while 69 percent do not.

Since romance readers are still largely buying paper books, I would miss out on a large population of fans if I decided to only ePublish my books. I would have been speaking to an empty room at the Bay City library.

The statistics may be different for paranormal, dystopian, or other genres. So we need to know our audience and plan accordingly.

2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

In a rapidly changing industry, we don’t need to decide we’re only going to self-publish or only going the traditional route. Instead we can look at the benefits of both options.

I do believe that regardless of demographics, more and more people are trying eBooks. But . . . I’m fairly certain there will always be readers who will want a paper copy of a book—at least I’ve talked to numerous readers who claim they don’t want to read on eReaders and never will (just like the readers at my recent presentation).

If we want to reach the widest possible audience with our books, then we can’t alienate either group—fans of eReaders or paper books. We can consider reaching out to both in our publishing and marketing spheres.

3. Stay humble and don’t burn bridges.

It’s only natural for us to rise up to defend and show support for whichever method of publishing we choose whether that’s traditional, self, or small press. But honestly, I’ve seen a lot of pride over the past year in all camps.

In my opinion, it’s wisest to stay humble, realize the landscape is constantly changing, and be willing to change too. None of us knows what will happen in another year, or two, or five. So we need to remain flexible.

But in the process, we can’t grow chips on our shoulders, lash out at one type of publishing, or puff ourselves up with pride in thinking we’re on the right path (and those other writers have it wrong).

We all need each other, no matter our publishing choices. So let’s not burn bridges but rather learn from one another and support our uniquenesses.

What do you think? Are you supporting other writers who are choosing a different publishing option than yours? And why do you think it's so easy for us to get into the writer's bubble where we begin to think everyone else is just like us?

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