By: Allan Hirt on July 25, 2011 in Book
As I plow ahead with my plans for the Denali version of my book (good suprises to be announced when I talk about it in detail soon), I’m doing my research. In not wanting to compromise the content (meaning a larger page count), I keep running into one constant roadblock: a physical book and its cost to both you and me. This challenge has a few aspects.
First and foremost, let me say that I love “real” books and in tech books, I often prefer them. However, the higher the page count, the more the cost goes up. It’s a conundrum for authors such as myself that want to tackle topics properly. No one (including myself) is going to get rich off of doing a book, so that isn’t my motivation. If you want an eBook, that’s not going to be a problem. I own an eBook reader (the Sony PRS-950, and the PRS-505 before it). I do like eBooks as well, and the new book – no matter what the page count – will be available in the most popular formats (currently targeting PDF, ePub, and Kindle).
- The publishing world has changed. With the closing of Borders here in the USA, my chances of getting the book on a shelf decreases immensely. Sure, we’ve got Barnes & Noble and smaller independents, but they’ve also got limited (and shrinking) shelf space that probably won’t be taken up by a self-published book even if they can get it from Ingram. I’m realistic. So why would I go through all the trouble to sell very few physical copies?
- The number of print on demand publishers that can handle a book of the size I’m proposing is limited. I’m looking into costs now of what this will be. I really don’t want to charge you guys an arm and a leg just to get a physical book.
- According to some research I’ve done, Amazon is not keeping print on demand books that they don’t publish. If I go with someone other than Create Space, that makes getting a physical book frustrating for everyone since Amazon is a pretty big distribution channel. Sure, that means you will be able to order it online, but from where? Obviously I can make it available via my site and I’m hoping it would show up elsewhere, but this is a very real and valid concern of mine.
I think many of you would like a physical option and I’m really trying to make that happen and at a reasonable cost. Will it be possible? Time will tell. Here are some options as I see them:
- Print a limited run of physical books that would be done via preorders only. Once they’re gone, they’re gone and eBook will be the only option. Maybe I would do another run if demand was there to do another run. I live in an apartment and really don’t have the space to have cases and cases of books that will never sell. That’s just an expense and physical limitation I cannot afford.
- Figure out the whole distribution thing with print on demand, but that is still a really big question mark. This would allow you to get a printed book until the end of time. This would clearly be the best option if it’s available. Stay tuned.
- Only offer an eBook, and eschew the idea of a physical book altogether. This would sadden me – trust me. This is a last resort option. However, it would allow you to print the sections you want on your own. For example, want only the clustering how-to stuff printed? That’s all you would get if you printed that yourself. I see a big upside to choice in doing that. If I do go down this road, I would probably offer some sort of multi-format deal allowing you a copy for your eReader and the straight PDF, which would make it easier to print. Obviously in terms of cost, having just an eBook will keep things reasonable, even with a larger reference book as the one I am aiming to do.
There’s one other distinct advantage to only being an eBook: I can publish very soon after Denali is released. That’s a pretty big advantage to everyone – readers and author alike!
Note to publishers out there: if you’re willing and interested to take this book on, I’m all ears. Use the Contact Allan link above.