Consider differences between paper, ebooks

In today’s publishing world, you need to sell both a paper and an ebook version of your title. There are plenty of readers for both platforms and many who prefer one over the other, so to limit yourself to either a paper or an ebook severely limits your potential number of buyers.

While the same content generally appears in both the paper and the ebook versions of your title, there are differences between the two platforms. Knowing those differences can help you plan how your book will be presented in each platform and make each version better.

Ebooks differ from paper books in five major ways:
• Page numbers – Ebooks do not have page numbers because the reader can change the font and font size, meaning there’s no analog between what’s seen on the ereader’s screen to what’s seen on a paper book’ page. Most eboks instead tell a reader what percentage of the book they’ve read or thumbed through.
• Interactivity – A paper book can list a website URL and a bibliography of other titles to read. As an ebook can be linked to the web, simply touching word or a title can take you to that source.
• Article-like content – Though hardly true of all ebooks, the short magazine-like approach to content is quite common among titles written primarily for electronic consumption. In contrast to a paper book, the small screen lends itself well to short paragraphs and belleted points.
• Nonconducive to pictures/poetry – Because the font sizes can be changed and the small screen size, ebook wreak havoc with line breaks in poetry. Pictures also are limited in size; while a paper book always can be made larger so that photographs run larger, all ebooks must fit a single size, which is that of an ereader’s screen.
• Price – For the moment, ebooks invariably are less expensive that paper books. That only makes sense, as an ebook can be sent electronically via the Internet to your ereader wherea a paper book requires trees, printing plants, warehouses, and trucking to create and then delver the book to a reader.

The upshot of these major differences greatly effects you during the self-publishing process. For example, you’ll likely need to format the title twice, once for your ebook and once for your paper book. You may want to add links to your ebook and not spell out the URLs. You will have to consider how photos are sized for the two different versions. You’ll have to determine and set different prices for each platform. And those are just a few of the obvious differences.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.