Last Monday was our local Romantic Novelists Association lunch. They’re a great bunch, a mix of published (mainstream press) and semi/wannabee published authors, nine of us in all. At the last lunch we’d been chatting and they discovered I was an e-book author so they asked me to be the guest speaker this time – on that very subject.

In preparation, I asked for feedback about the pros and cons of e-book publishing and got some fantastic answers, which I’ll share (verbatim) here:

Pros
Readers
• the convenience of being able to carry a lot of books on my laptop
• easier to store the books as well since they don’t take up as much physical space. Great if travelling or relocating temporarily.
• my favourite thing is being able to search the doc. I’ll have forgotten who a character is when he pops up again. Then I can search for one or more spots that name was used in the book. Paper books requires a very good memory (for some) or a lot of dog-earing.
• Instant Gratification (don’t have to look for a bookstore, can buy anytime)
• “embarrassing” book covers (romance/erotica)
• Privacy – eg adult books are harder for others to know what you are reading – no covers!! discrete
• More genres have a venue (GLBT/Erotica/BDSM to name a few)
• Cost of books is usually cheaper (but eligible for VAT!)
• Better for the planet (ecology)

Publishers
• Publish shorter stories viably
• Fewer on-costs (like POD)

Authors
• Gives more authors a voice
• Enable self publishing
• Sell shorter stories viably
• Royalties – in the region of 40% cover price, often quickly paid

Cons
• For portability need an ereader, cost still high – also accessibility issues (socioeconomic – anyone can read a print book)
• lack of an agreed ereader format
• Publishers versus Retailers causing fluctuating pricing
• Problems with some entering the market (Apple’s Ipad has only one format?)
• Traditional publishers still reluctant to use for all books
• ereader can be dropped and broken and you either have to repair or purchase new one. Lose all the books in the process – less likely to set library on fire!
• I do still like to hold a print book (and the smell is great)
• Can’t mark pages/make notes/etc
• Can’t lend a book to a friend
• Cons-power dependent,
• equipment and/or software failure may lead to loss of the books,
• can’t share them with friends and family unless they live in your household(not legally),
• harder to read in bed/bath
• Publishers see piracy as an issue more with ebooks

The reaction from my audience was definite interest (especially when we looked at the level of royalties and the relative speed of going from mss to sellable form). One of them had already seen some of her books go print to e-book and others saw this as a way of getting into the market. Another author also saw an advantage that I hadn’t picked up – that e-books aren’t stuck on a particular shelf in a shop but can be advertised online across genres.

You’ll be pleased to know that I don’t think I disgraced myself, especially when ‘gay romance’ got mentioned.

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