I am often asked what’s the best way to print a book, as an eBook or a printed book?

I have to declare my allegiances up front. I love printed books and buy several a month for both work and pleasure.  I understand the appeal of eBooks (convenience when travelling, cost, space-saving, saving trees and the planet – think inks, glue etc), but I am simply a ‘printed book girl’.

That said, my response to this question is, ‘It depends on your target audience. What format do they prefer, where do they hear and read about upcoming books in their area, where are they (local, national, international)? And, what are your objectives in publishing your book? To share your knowledge, leave a legacy, develop your profile, make a transition to the speaking circuit, change the world?

In business book self-publishing space eBooks seemed to be winning for a while as business writers realised that they could write, publish and market their own book for a fraction of the cost of the printed version AND, more importantly, they could get their book published.

However, there’s something about a printed book that confers recognition, authority, credibility and visibility. It’s the ‘must-have’ personal branding tool for business owners, consultants, professionals and professional directors. And, of course, writing and publishing a business book is on most people’s agenda.

So what are the facts about eBooks v printed books?

According to Bowker more than one million books were self-published in the USA in 2017, breaking the record for the total number of titles self-published in a year

Between 2016-2017 self-publishing in the US grew by 28% with a total of 1,009,188 self-published titles in 2017, up from 786,935 in 2016 with 8% growth from 2015-2016.

The same report noted that self-published print books were up by 38% for 2017 and that self-published ebooks decreased by 13%, continuing a downward trend for the third consecutive year.

Of course, the devil is in the detail and in this case the detail is what Bowker uses to generate these statistics, the issuing of ISBNs. Many self-published authors don’t apply for an ISBN and many, many more are using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) self-publishing platform, which issues its own Amazon ASIP identifiers. It’s also bought CreateSpace another popular DIY eBook option.

In reality, there’s a place for both printed and eBooks. Many of the business owners and company directors I work with choose to do both, as they want to achieve different objectives with their print book and their eBook.

Benefits of a printed book

There’s something about a printed book conveys authority, credibility and stature. When books were first developed they were rare and contained information and knowledge not readily available to the masses. This appreciation of the intrinsic value of books has stayed with us through to the present day to a degree.

To be the author of a business book delivers a level of authority and credibility (provided it is well written and shares valued knowledge and insights) that an eBook simply does not.

A printed business book is more memorable and valued by recipients.

A printed business book enables you to leverage your knowledge and profile in a way that an eBook simply cannot. Think of Simon Sinek, Tim Ferris, Robert Kiyosaki,, Dale Carnegie, Tom Peters . . . .all developed global profiles partly or wholly through the writing and publication of a printed business book. Granted, eBook versions of the same books have now be released in some cases, but the printed book was the driver of their success as it gave them the platform to increase their profile.

A printed book is the ultimate marketing and branding tool if this is what you wish to achieve through undertaking writing and publishing a book.

Benefits of an eBook

The main attributes of an eBook are its low cost and, given Amazon and other online book platforms, it can reach millions of people around the world literally.

The challenge here is getting your business book noticed among the millions that are out there, and that takes some doing, time and money.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

I think the most interesting aspect of business self-publishing now is that business book writers don’t have to choose between one or the other, in fact it’s smart to use both printed and eBooks in a marketing and promotion strategy as they achieve different objectives.

If you are going down the business book self-publishing route it’s more important that you embrace the whole process of taking ownership of the marketing of it.

Business writers need to focus on their own websites as the ‘hub’ of their book/brand/business/personal profile rather than putting all their intellectual property into the hands of other businesses, such as trade publishers or self-publishing services. As ALLi founder Orna Ross comments:

“those who understand the value of their intellectual property, your most valuable creative asset will leverage it well.”

How to choose what format you publish in

The key part of deciding what type of publishing option you select, and you may well choose to produce and eBook and printed book, is understanding, deeply who your target audience is, where they will find out about your book and how will they want to consume it. And don’t think you know the answer to these questions . . . do your research. And, a good place to start is on LinkedIn with your connections. Share with your LinkedIn connections that you’re on your business book journey and ask them what their preference is, printed book or eBook.

And, if you’re thinking of a printed book aim to print at least 500 to 1,000 so you obtain a reasonable unit price. I know some directors and business owners who have gone down the Print on Demand (POD) pathway as its cheaper up front, but they simply don’t get the exposure, coverage and benefit of leveraging their book.

If you’re stuck and would like some advice contact me jaqui@thebookadviser.com.au