eBooks and self-publishing have transformed the book publishing world for the better in so many ways, not least by enabling authors to get their work out into the wider world in ways that wouldn’t have been possible a couple of decades ago. Back in the day, self-publishing was known as vanity publishing, a term that I view as a tad derisory, in spite of the fact that famous authors such as Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, and many others have self-published books. eBooks have opened up another major opportunity for authors because most authors nowadays publish in both paper and digital versions. But how does digital compare to holding a real book in your hands?
Do You Read eBooks?
Although my brother has shelves full of paper and hardback books, he’s an avid eBook reader, having bought a Kindle many years ago. One of the big plusses of eBooks is the price, not to mention delivery. They are cheap and instantly available on demand — much like Netflix and other media content streamers. Personally, I don’t own a Kindle but may buy one on my next trip back home. On the other hand, I still enjoy the feel and smell of a real book in my hands. Turning the pages, placing a bookmark, and just feeling the weight of a hefty tome in my hands is a pleasure that’s hard to leave behind and I probably never will. However, circumstances can often dictate which form of a book to choose. For digital eBooks, it’s always going to be the cheapest and most instant option because it’s instantly delivered to your inbox. It’s also more convenient if ordering a paperback (or several) which could be expensive in terms of shipping, tax, and other costs if you live in the Third World.
If you don’t have a reading device like a Kindle or Kobo, you can download desktop readers such as Kindle For PC and Kobo for PC so you can read books comfortably at your desk, which is what I do for the few eBooks I have bought, bearing in mind that you need to log on to your respective Amazon or Kobo account first. For authors, it’s important to get a taste of how eBooks look and feel, so for general books which are not DRM protected or I simply want to review what I’ve written, Calibre does this very well and it’s free and open source. It’s also worth pointing out that, as an author, I use Microsoft Word with the Kindle Word add-on which will convert my masterpiece (sic) into paperback or eBook formats with a very handy previewer. The Kindle Word add-on is no longer available for reasons best known to KDP and has been replaced by Kindle Create, but I managed to squirrel one away for safekeeping.
Having published books on Amazon, Google Books, Draft2Digital, and more, I recently published a Spanish version of my latest book and the eBook option is always a must for me. There are people who have so many physical books in their home that they simply can’t find room for anymore and I know that for a fact.
So, what is your preference? Digital or the good old Caxton version?