September ’22: This page was originally to document marketing efforts I make to promote my eBooks on Amazon, but should now present a different subject:
eBook Benefits: First and foremost, they don’t use any paper. They don’t take up any room in the average reader’s home (no cluttered book-shelves, especially important for fiction books like novels) so they are tidy! The average novel in eBook form is little more than one Megabyte in size, so one 16Gb Flash-drive could hold over 10,000 books – more than an average person can read in an entire lifetime. Purchase price for an eBook is typically a tiny fraction of a pBook – usually only about US$2 – so having a large home book collection is not a luxury. Buying a new eBook is so cheap that readers can afford to read widely. The book you want to read is never ‘out of stock’ or ‘no longer in print’, and you don’t have to traipse around different book-stores looking for the title you want. Online providers exist for eBooks in any language. Despite the Amazon monopoly on eBooks for new titles, online sites exist for eBooks of older or classic titles available for free download. What’s not to like?
eBook Problems: They are NOT physical products. They cost nothing to make or distribute – they’re just a single file on a Website Server somewhere. Customers just download a COPY of that eBook file to display on their suitable device without the environmental impact or commercial exploitation of a pBook. Perhaps for a small fee, perhaps for no cost at all. Therefore, people in the book trade detest eBooks! I started writing novels 50 years ago, before eBooks had been invented. Author’s lament : That’s long enough to see four main problems:
- All you need to read an eBook is a tablet, laptop, phone, desktop computer or eBook Reader. Everyone today has at least ONE of those, but most people still prefer reading a pBook. They just like the feel and smell of a printed book. So the major benefit of eBooks – that they don’t use any paper, so are good for the planet – really doesn’t matter to most novel-readers. They don’t see cutting down trees to make paper as their problem.
- They are SO cheap that commercial opposition is fierce! Traditional Publishers pay for all the printing, marketing and distribution for pBooks. Those costs are substantial and the investment risk very real. But eBooks cost nothing to print and are downloaded, not distributed. Online eBook suppliers like Amazon simply list the work online, and expect authors to do all the marketing. Like any other commodity, eBooks and pBooks are both marketed for profit, but physical pBooks must be purchased by book-sellers and held in stock, while eBooks are just a single computer file – NEVER out-of-stock.
- In typical US corporate style, Amazon has steadily gobbled up all competitors so that eBook readers (for their Kindle Reader device) globally have little choice but to buy from Amazon. Authors (or copyright-holders) listed on Amazon are prohibited from selling their eBooks anywhere else – even privately – at risk of being sued, which DOES happen. This marketing monopoly, which would not be tolerated for other products, has somehow become invisible. Amazon has made eBooks an exclusive market.
- Books (especially fiction titles) do not sell themselves – they need marketing. Because of the Amazon market monopoly and zero online marketing, most effective promotion of eBooks now relies on authors using social media platforms. Traditional printed media advertising has vanished, and authors without a strong social media presence and a willingness to actively drive potential readers to Amazon (ethically challenging in itself), cannot sell their eBooks.
When I make myself a coffee, I don’t give a damn what the pretentious Barista crowd thinks of my methods or my equipment – I just make a cup to suit my own taste. It’s the same with writing novels. I don’t write with a specific target market in mind – I just write stories that appeal to me! The creative process is what makes it all worthwhile. I made the decision 30 years ago to support eBooks over pBooks, mostly for environmental reasons, but the commercial backlash against eBooks, which threaten the profitability of the publishing, paper-making, distribution and book-selling industries, has been ferocious. The market for eBooks has become so polarized (almost as commercially-exclusive as the pBook market) that I am now considering making all 15 of my novels – plus #16 at the planning stage – free to anyone who wishes to read them. The online eBook market requires authors to be self-Publishers, and do all their own marketing, which means self-promotion. Expecting authors to advertise their own creative works for marketing purposes is ethically unacceptable. Glowing book reviews are subjective judgments, and not for THEM to make. That’s for readers to decide.