Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Publishing

Thanks to Lillie Ammann at A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye, I know that March 6-12, 2011 is officially Read An E-Book Week.   In light of that fact, I thought it would be ideal to continue my series on publishing on the advantages and disadvantages of publishing "e-books," or in other words "e-Publishing."

Perhaps one of the most surprising facts about "e-books" is that they are celebrating their 40th birthday this year.  Michael S. Hart created the first "e-book" as part of Project Gutenberg back in the early '70's, before the internet had really taken hold.  Initially, he manually typed the text of the Bible, Shakespeare and many other classics in an attempt to encourage literacy and give as many e-books to the public as possible. 

Today, electronic publishing, or e-Publishing is growing like wildfire.  It is defined as the digital publication of e-books and other reads like short stories or collections via the internet.  Files may be viewed online, loaded onto CDs and electronic readers, or even emailed directly to your computer.  There are an amazing number of advantages to e-Publishing.  Here are a few:
  • From a financial standpoint, it is often a great option.  Because there are fewer overheads for the publisher, as in printing and distribution costs, the writer can often make out better with royalties - sometimes making as much as 70%.  Also, due to lower overheads, a publisher will many times be more willing to take a risk on an unpublished author or even a book or character idea that might be a little dicey.
  • The actual time it takes for a book to get published is much faster than in traditional publication.  Where going the "old-fashioned" way might take up to two years, e-publishing can be as quick as three weeks to only a few months after acceptance. 
  • Storage in itself is a great advantage to this form of publishing.  Unlimited space on the internet makes it easy for everyone to maintain files.  Plus, since most e-publications are sent via PDF files, or compatible word processing docs, it's even quick and easy to go in and make changes to a publication.  Traditional publishers are often unwilling to make changes to a manuscript because it involves so much extra work.  
  • Where paper publishers usually try to obtain as many rights a possible, the e-Publisher usually retains none.  That means the writer keeps the rights to his work and even has the option to take it to a paper publisher at a later date.  
  • It's a great way for a new writer to build a platform or create a following before going to paper.  
  • e-Published docs can be sent all over the world in a matter of seconds.  This is a huge advantage to both the writer and to the reader who does not like to wait. 
As with anything, there are also disadvantages to e-Publishing. 
  • There is a lot more responsibility resting on the writer to market his own work.  With paper publishing people can visit libraries, bookstores or even see a book in a storefront window and make the purchase.  Not so with this method.  
  • Even though royalties can be better, there is no advance in the beginning.
  • It's true that the overheads are lower for the publisher, but that doesn't mean the cost of the book itself is less.  An expensive e-book might not always seem appealing to potential buyers.
  • Some might argue that the quality in writing of an e-published book doesn't compare to that of a paper book. 
  • Sales for e-books are not as great as they are for paper.  In the e-book industry, a writer is considered successful if his e-book sales hit 500.    
  • Online publications may review e-books, but newspaper and magazine reviewers tend to stick with paper.  This is just one more reason why the writer must work harder at promoting himself. 

Despite the disadvantages of e-Publishing, it's certainly a worthwhile consideration for new writers, or for those who've been published and are looking for additional ways to build on their platform and get their name out there.  Oh!  And if you haven't had the experience to read an e-book yourself or you'd like a chance to win your own reading device, be sure to check out the Read An E-Book Week link!  


Lillie Ammann said...


I'm glad you wrote on this topic. E-books are becoming extremely popular and sales are increasing dramatically. In fact, Amazon sells more e-books than it does paperback or hardcover books. Some authors are selling tens of thousands of copies. So it's a good time to look at e-publishing.

And for anyone interested in self-publishing, e-publishing is easy and inexpensive. I have self e-published several short how-to e-books—length isn't nearly as important for e-books as for print books. So very short pieces as well as long books that print publishers shy away from work as e-books.

Betsy Henning said...

Good information. Thanks Lisa!

Lisa Vella said...


I was unaware that Amazon sold more e-books than paper! That's impressive and proves that the future is looking bright for e-books! I have some book ideas and am definitely considering it as a very viable option.

Thank you for you input. Since I haven't published a book yet, I am still in the learning process of all of this. It's very helpful to get input from those who have come before me! Hope you are having an incredible day, Lillie!


Lisa Vella said...


Thank you and you very welcome! :)

Love You!

Kaniya said...

hey Lisa,

I got a nice idea from your blog. And Thanks for that

Lisa Vella said...


I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading my blog and hope you'll come back to visit!

Have a truly wonderful day!