When I was younger, I was a die-hard fan of paper copies. Now, I’m a die-hard fan of e-books.
First of all, I discovered some books I was interested in were available on Kindle only. It always takes at least a month for a paperback to arrive at my place. It’s impractical because if I want to read a book, I want to read it now, and not after a month. With e-books, I’m a few clicks away from reading, and it’s very comfortable.
Second, my grandfather had always complained that we already have too many books at home. And he was right. There is a perpetual mess in my room, because books occupy half of my wardrobes, half of my shelves, half of my desk, and the whole window sill. I wanted to throw them away, but it felt somewhat heretic.
I planned to give them out, but: antique shops already have too many books, orphanages want new books only, and libraries need classics. An option would be selling books online, but this requires more effort and patience that anyone would think: take one book, make photos of it, put it away, then take another book… It’s a great solution if you have 10 books not sell, and not 300.
After you’ve read the book, it becomes more or less useless. Yes, you can go back to it, but how many times can you read the same thing over and over again? 3? 4?
What’s worse, I often bought books and never read them. The cover was better than the content, or I had bought another ambitious books that wasn’t what I truly wanted to read. Money was spent, space was taken, the book was getting dusty on my shelf. “I’ll read it one day”. Of course. When is “one day”? Probably never.
In 2017, I moved to China. China cured me from buying paper copies. I am fluent in Chinese, but I’ve always spent little time with characters, hence, I can’t read that well. Also, books are always written with a literary language, which means slightly different grammar – and in Chinese, it does make a difference.
This helped me discover the pros of e-books:
- I can take them with me wherever I’m going.
- They don’t take space neither on my shelf, nor in my luggage.
- I can read them on any device – not just on the Kindle reader.
- There are many more e-books available online than there are paperbacks in local bookshops, which means a greater choice – and a greater exposure to indie authors, who are given equal chances in this way.
- My virtual shelf is private, I can read whatever I please without feeling judged for it.
- I can always buy ebooks in my preferred language, even when I am in another country.
- I can start reading immediately after purchase.
- E-books are much cheaper than paperbacks. I can buy 5-10 e-books for the price of one paperback.
- E-books are often available for free.
- E-books are ecological (no more cutting trees for paper!).
And now pros of e-books for authors:
- No printing costs.
- Easy distribution – there are thousands of pages online that promote e-books, and you don’t have to worry about being rejected by some stupid bookstore clerk who claims you aren’t “famous enough to have your books on a bookstore shelf.”.
- Becoming equal to the “big players” out there – if you get good reviews, readers won’t be able to tell the difference, if you are traditionally published or indie published.
- Sending ARCs for reviews is much easier (and cheaper).
Of course, if you have the possibility to release your book both in the digital format and in the e-book format, you should go for it. It’s not a mystery that books with more formats available sell better.
E-books have their cons as well – they are way easier to pirate than paperbacks. However, new laws are introduced to protect creators (and their earnings). I think that it would be a real pity to miss out on what e-books have to offer, just for fear of pirates. Also, I’ve noticed that more and more people are actually willing to buy e-books; because e-books are so cheap now, that nearly everyone can afford them.
What do you think about e-books? Or are you still for paper copies? Let me know in the comments!