Thursday, April 24

Are Print Books Necessary in the Digital Age?

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series

When I decided to indie publish The Boy Who Loved Fire, I knew I’d create a print version. I adore print books, and many people I know still don’t own e-readers. Heck, I just got my own Kindle last year.

As more writers venture into the indie jungle, many may wonder Are print books necessary in the digital age?

Necessary? No. Worth it? Absolutely.

Here are several reasons why it’s worth your time and effort to create a print book:

Book signings: try as we might, we can’t sign a digital book. Book signings are a great way to meet with locals who want to support writers in their home town. Indie authors can contact libraries and coffee shops to make arrangements. Order plenty of print books in advance of these events.

Library shelves: I donated print books to my local libraries. This way more kids from my town could read the book. Not all kids have e-readers, and not all kids have Internet access or funds to order books on their own.

Kindle MatchBook: if you set up Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook, readers who order your print book can download your ebook at a discounted rate. For instance, if you buy Janice Hardy’s Planning Your Novel in print, you can download the Kindle version for free. A great deal for readers.

Goodreads Giveaways: Goodreads giveaways are an excellent way to get readers’ attention. How does it work? You pledge to give away a certain number of print books. Lots and lots of readers sign up. At the end of the promo, Goodreads emails you with the names and addresses of your winners. Easy peasy. Create a Goodreads giveaway here.

Awards: SCBWI members can enter their books in the Spark award contest. Only print books will be considered.

Keepsakes: I gave each of my three sons a signed copy of my book.

Fundraisers: when the high school football team was looking for baskets to auction off at a golf tournament, I created a “read by the beach” basket. I included my print book, a beach towel, Hot Tamales, and other theme-related goodies.

Increased Sales: my print sales are second only to Kindle downloads. Writers who take the time to create a print book expand their sales base. Why leave any sales on the table?

My biggest reason for creating a print book? Pride. Nothing, nothing beats that feeling of holding a print book in your hands. Even if I didn’t sell one single print copy, the joy of holding that book made all the effort worthwhile. What a rush.

If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of creating a print book, or you have no idea where to start, be sure to check out my post How to Create a Print Book.

Do you still read print books? If you’ve indie published, did you create a print version? Any benefits to print books you’d like to add? Please share!

Julie Musil writes Young Adult novels from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her novel The Boy Who Loved Fire is available now. For more information, or to stop by and say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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  1. Holding something you've written in your hands? The heft of it? The smoothness of your words printed on the paper beneath your fingertips? The crisp clean white spaces blocking the sentences and paragraphs?

    Heck yeah! And I'm just talking about a rough draft I had FedEx print from me so I could work through it with red ink and a highlighter. If it were bound and covered I think I would need medication!

    Lovely piece!

  2. I have never purchased an e-book. I've read a few free ones, and I love the free Bible I downloaded through iBooks. I use it all the time. But I can't get myself to pay actual money for an e-book. If/when I ever publish a novel, I couldn't possibly do e-book only. Even if it wasn't self-pubbed.

    I'd love to see more free/reduced digital books with the purchase of hardcovers. I love it when I can get a digital download with DVDs that I purchase. Why not with e-books?

  3. The Kindle Matchbook was a long time in coming and genius!

  4. Thanks, Julie. I am partial to print books because at the end of a day on the computer,when it's time to read for pleasure, the last thing I want to do is look at a screen anymore. I didn't know Janice's ebook was free when you bought the print version. Yet another reason to buy her book! Now I have to consider why did I ever buy a nook, and will your book be available that way too, Janice? Thanks for the post.

  5. SE--I know what you mean. Holding your written words in your hand? Nothing compares.

    Rebecca--I was late to ebioks myself! I love the added value of a free or discounted ebook with a print purchase.

    Southpaw--I totally agree!

    Carol--I feel the same way. After a day of staring at a laptop screen, I rarely choose to read an ebook.

  6. Julie, I have to agree with you regarding the reasons you provide for making print books available. The first time I held Neverlove in my hands, I got teary-eyed. It was such a humbling yet overwhelming experience to hold the end result of all my hard work :-)

  7. Angela--I shed a few tears when I held my baby too! Probably a natural reaction for most writers. I'm so glad you created a print version of Neverlove.

  8. I have never bought an e-book. I spend enough time on the computer and looking at screens, when it is time to relax with a book I want a book that I can hold in my hands and turn the pages. I did get a couple free e-books for my hubby's reader and never read them

  9. This makes great sense to me!! I just put your novel on my wish list, Julie!!

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  11. Julie, as you mentioned SCBWI, I want to say I think picturebooks in paper are necessary, as the reading experience is largely dependent upon the book's materiality. The dust jacket, boards, endpapers, front matter, back matter (if any), and other such elements, combined with the visual and verbal aspects of the book proper, combine to help readers make meaning from picturebooks.

    (I've just gotten a Kindle, and I'm definitely enjoying it, but a downside to e-books I noticed almost immediately: Whenever I walk by my physical to-be-read pile, I'm reminded of the books I plan to read, but my virtual to-read "pile" doesn't have that presence; I only remember the book I happen to be reading on it at the moment.)

  12. Lorig--plus it's unwise to read ebooks in the bathtub or near the pool. I love reading beside water.


    Meredith--so true about picture books. Turning physical pages with a child in your lap is so special.

  13. I am more comfortable with e-reader books, but still am a hold-a-book-in-my-hand kind of guy. I indie published my print book first, than e-book version second. Next one will be in reverse order, but I'll still have hard copy available (though I'm beginning to ponder an "app" that smells like a book when you open a new one on an e-reader.)

  14. These are excellent reasons (and awesome promo ideas!) to go print! Yaaaay, print books. I do have a Kindle, but I still love my print books. Here's another benefit: I get to keep looking at the cover! It's part of the experience, admiring the artwork on a print book.