From the 1920s through the 1940s, radio served as Americans’ primary way to receive news and entertainment. A radio sat at the center of their living rooms, where families would gather each evening to laugh together, enjoy the latest jazz tune, root for their favorite sports team, and catch the latest news of the world. Beginning in the late 1940s and through the early 1950s, however, a new medium for delivering comedy, drama, sports, news and music increasingly grew in popularity. Television soon overtook the radio set in American living rooms, and the radio industry found itself shrinking and seeking niches where it might maintain some edge against this new media powerhouse.
A similar revolution is underway today in book publishing. Paper bound into volumes long has been the primary means of sharing written information, from novels and poetry to schoolbooks and nonfiction tomes. During the 2000s, authors began to publish books in digital formats collectively and commonly known as ebooks. The ebook really took off once Amazon.com released its first Kindle and as self-publishing increasingly gained acceptance from authors and readers alike. Today, the ebook is poised to become the main way readers access the written word.
As someone who wants to publish a book, you’re no doubt wondering if the ebook is for you. Perhaps you prefer reading paper books over digital books. Maybe your don’t consider yourself tech-savvy enough to construct an ebook. And paper books continue to sell at a good clip, you point out.
If you’re having these thoughts, set your nostalgia and fear aside. There are several practical reasons why you simply must publish an ebook:
There’s money to be made
The ebook is a multi-billion-dollar industry that’s growing and is not just a fad. Many readers prefer to read on electronic devices, and with an increasingly tech-savvy youth, that number only will grow. Paper books (and I love them, btw) are increasingly seen as quaint. Indeed, in mid-January 2016, Amazon’s U.S. ebook sales averaged 1,064,000 paid downloads a day.
If you write genre books, offer services, or sell products, penning a book about that topic can increase your sales in those areas. Readers looking up books about your topic probably are interested in your genre books, services or products, and they can discover them by coming across your ebook in multiple ways, such as a search engine, on Amazon.com’s internal search, or various social media outlets (such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Facebook) where users are more likely to purchase digital than paper books.
Visibility is a plus in selling your books, products or services, but credibility also is must, for it sets you in a class apart from all of the other authors, services and sellers. Simply being published delivers that by making you an “expert” on the topic. To borrow jargon from the corporate world, publishing makes you a “thought leader.” An ebook, because it is modern and a growing industry, makes you a cutting edge thought leader.
You can do what can’t be done in a paper book
Of course, simply publishing a paper book will give you visibility and credibility. With an ebook, however, you can provide a superior reading experience that further boosts your authority in a profession. That’s because an ebook allows you to embed video, audio, links to pages or websites that with a simple touch of the screen can provide additional information – something a paperback can’t do. You also can include ads that take readers to landing pages where they can purchase your other books, products or services.
Writers who stick to only to publishing paper books certainly can be successful, but they are limiting themselves. Indeed, just as radio exists today despite not being the dominant form for acquiring information or entertainment, so paper books will survive into the decades ahead as a secondary rather than the chief medium that people use for reading. The future of books rests in the digital realm.
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.