This post was inspired by my recent experiences around two books by Michael Linenberger. I will hold this transaction up as an example but it is not in any way atypical. This is not about any one author or publisher. I have ordered Michael’s books and look forward to reading them. This post is to everyone who writes or publishes a book. It is an open letter and feedback is welcome and encouraged.
My Recent Experiences
I remember reading a blog post when Michael released Seize the Work Day and thinking that it sounded like a good book. I checked it out, found out there was no e-book version and decided to pass on it. The Message: Some people are more likely to buy your book if it is available in a digital format.
Recently I was listening to the show number 11 of OnTheRun With TabletPCs and the hosts, Marc Orchant and James Kendrick were interviewing Michael Linenberger. I learned that he now has a second book called Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook out.
Interestingly James Kendrick remarked during the show that these two books were two of the few “dead tree books” that he owned. The Message: Some people are more likely to buy your book if it is available in a digital format.
Anyway, I decided to re-investigate to see if there was an e-book version yet. There was not. I used the Contact Us page on the book’s site to ask if there were any plans for an e-book version, remarking that it seemed ironic that there wasn’t one for a book about productivity with the Tablet PC. The response:
The irony is not lost, trust me.
Just a matter of timing; there have been so many other projects going on here getting an e-book version out has not reached the top yet.
I have a request of all those who write or publish books. I’ve never done either so I admit that perhaps I am naïve and this is harder than it would seem. Books are put into a digital format before they are printed. Please turn that digital format into a digital rights protected e-book format. I say digital rights protected for two reasons. 1) Most of them are; 2) From what I have read there is some fear that some people will illegally reproduce it. (Of course having a print only book does not provide any real protection againt this. If it is a really good book there are people who will chop the binding off and run it through a sheet-feed scanner. There will always be people who steal – I’m talking about those of us willing to buy the book)
Why do I want a book in Digital Format?
There are many reasons I prefer digital formats. The key ones are as follows:
1. Portability: Ironically Michael Linenberger touched on this in this interview with James and Marc. With a tablet, or indeed any highly portable computer device, you can have an incredible amount of information with you and accessible where ever you are. One of the things I want with me is my library, and the better the book the more I want it!
2. Search: Electronic formats are searchable! Need I say more?
3. Distribution Costs: OK – this one may be more of an issue for me than with my readers in other parts of the world, particularly the US. I live in New Zealand (NZ). Where’s that? Picture the globe. If you stick arms and legs on it and draw a face on America, then I live on the right butt cheek. It is a small country in the south pacific and shipping costs are a killer. As an example, had I ordered the Michael’s two books from the publisher’s site I would of paid USD$51.90 for the two book, but the shipping and handling would have cost me an additional USD$49.40! I thought that was more than a little excessive so I went to Amazon and got both books for USD$54.97 including USD$16.97 shipping.
4. Instant gratification: Again – may not be as much of an issue if you don’t live on a buttock but at the above standard shipping rate I have to wait 10-16 days to get my books. If I could download then now I would probably have read the first one by then and be started on the second. Sounds like a good book and I want to read it – NOW. The delivery estimate is currently showing as February 27, 2006 - March 13, 2006.
Call to Action
If you publish books then please release them in a digital format as well as in print. If you do this you will:
· Give your customers a better experience by selling them a product that costs you less to produce and distribute.
· Sell copies of your book to people who would not have purchased them otherwise because Some people are more likely to buy your book if it is available in a digital format.
· Make more money (selling more copies at a higher margin must be good, right?)
If you are an author – pressure the publisher to release a digital format version.
That’s my two cents – now I’ll just sit back and wait for a flood of email telling me I’m wrong J