What’s an e-book?

Are you among those who are confused by the concept of an e-book?

If you look around on my site, you’ll see that my novel Babe in the Woods and my non-fiction exploration Chasing Smallwood are both available as e-books. But what’s an e-book?

Here’s how I think of them. An e-book is something that you can download and read on screen, yes. But how many people want to do that? I like to think of them as an easy way to download a book and print it out myself. The cost of ink and toner isn’t much, assuming that the book has been well laid out, and for long material I vastly prefer to read printed material rather than phosphors on screens.

Of course, more than either, I prefer buying finished books, with durable covers. But as one-man-band publisher, I don’t see how I can afford to print books unless I know that I have enough orders to pay for the printing. (Yes, I know that isn’t how conventional publishers do it. Don’t I know first hand! But I just can’t do it that way; my material is for too specialized an audience.)

So, my intention is to put my material into shape, offer it as an e-book, and print it if enough people express interest in it. That way, I can move on from project to project (for, time is pressing, if you haven’t noticed) without waiting for any one book to begin making money.

With all that in mind, I am formatting the e-books so that they print two book-sized pages to a sheet of paper. This means you have a readable copy and you have wasted no paper printing manuscript with wide margins and inconveniently wide copy blocks.

This may be more than you wanted to know about e-books and my plans, but there you are.

2 thoughts on “What’s an e-book?

  1. Have you ever heard of “on-demand” self-publishing? I know of a couple places they do this. Lulu.com is good for making both hard-cover and soft-cover novels. If you want to simply print and sell through them, you don’t need and ISBN, but if you’d like to sell the book through major sites like Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble, ISBNs cost about $100 through Lulu. CreateSpace.com is great because ISBNs are free and they have a better variety of book sizes to choose from. The only downfall I’ve seen is that they don’t do hard cover (yet). BookSurge.com is a fantastic place to self-publish if you’re looking for a large audience and the ability to print your book however you want it. However, their packages start at over $500. Their focus is on producing the best books possible and doing the advertising for you. Lulu and BookSurge both provide helpful services beyond their main publishing packages and whether or not you publish your book through them may be irrelevant to obtaining those other services.

  2. I am familiar with these alternatives. As a practical matter, printing at least 100 books seems to be the best bet. That’s easy enough if there is any interest at all in the books I’m going to offer, so we’ll see. Of course, ultimately that’s always the question: Is what I’m publishing of interest to people, enough so that they are willing to pay something to keep it coming.

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