Vennsday: On book formats and buyers

It’s been ages since I did a Vennsday post, but I had a moment the other day and hey, why not share it.

One of the pieces of advice which I’ve heard over and over again is that if you self-publish, pretty much all your sales will be ebooks. I took this on board and decided to wait until I’d sold a certain number of ebooks before spending extra time producing the paperback version.

I had the paperback of Secret Notebook ready maybe two months after the ebook version, and once I had a proof copy actually in my hot little hand, of course I waved it at people. The reaction surprised me; I was expecting polite interest, along the lines of ‘if I make nice noises maybe she’ll take it away’. But people oohed at it, stroked the cover (they really did), read the back, opened it, oohed again. Some even bought a copy.

Now, some of these people were the same people who’d smiled in a slightly indulgent way when they asked if my book was out yet and I said that it was published as an ebook.

I’ve published two more books since then (well, one was last week), and so far I haven’t got round to doing the paperbacks, usually because I’m writing or editing the next book. Then someone asked me the other day, ‘You will do a paperback, won’t you?’

I gave my usual reply of ‘Yes, if it does well enough,’ and something clicked in my head. So I decided to do some ad hoc market research.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-10-56-17

Here are the results. For clarity, if a respondent said they bought both ebooks and paper but almost always one or the other, I put them in the ‘paper’ or ‘ebook’ category accordingly.

vennsday-format-numbers

Admittedly, it’s a small sample, from a population which is almost exclusively people I know. But I expected far more people to be in the middle, and far fewer to be paper only.

There’s something about a paper book (which is probably why the house is over-run with them). And they’re visible in a way that an ebook just isn’t – on someone’s shelves, on tables in bookshops, being read on public transport. You can’t sign an ebook. And that makes me think that I’ve missed a trick in not getting the paperback versions out sooner, since there’s a sizeable audience who don’t buy ebooks.

Watch this space for paperback news…and please ignore any inappropriate words that slip out while I’m reformatting!

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