Even with technological advances, I still love the feel of a physical book.
Whether paperback or hardcover, I love to cozy up on the couch with paper and ink in my hands. But even with my preferences, I’d still advise that it’s a wise business decision for self-publishing authors to sell books in multiple formats.
Despite apocalyptic predictions that digital will kill paper, the physical book isn’t going away. On the contrary, paperback books remain the most popular format. That said, it’s unwise to self-publish your book in only one format.
Readers love choice more than ever, and that love of choice includes book formats: physical books, eBooks, and audiobooks.
Here are several reasons why you should publish your book in multiple formats.
Some formats work better than others for specific markets.
If you’re a romance novelist and self-publish your book only in paperback, you’re more likely to fail. Why? Many romance readers prefer eBooks over paperback, so you’re leaving sales on the table if you’re not getting your stories digital.
Conversely, children’s books fare better in paper formats, so a children’s book in only eBook form may not be enough. Format preferences vary wildly on genre and category, so you’ll glean a wealth of market research by investigating the format most of your potential readers are buying.
But even when one format is more popular than another, it’s wise to publish in multiple formats. Related to the above, many romance readers still prefer paper to electronic—airport stands for romance novels still exist! So, multiple options are crucial to reaching your potential audience.
You increase the number of platforms you can sell your book on.
Not every bookseller sells books in every format. If you self-publish your book only in the .mobi eBook format, you’re practically limited to selling through Amazon’s Kindle section.
While Amazon is the most prominent storefront for self-publishing authors, you can do better.
If you take your manuscript’s file and export it to .epub, you open up most of the rest of the eBook market. You make it possible to sell your book on Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, and more. Some retailers even sell books in .pdf form.
If you record your book as an audiobook, you can play it in audiobook storefronts, such as Audible, iTunes, Google Audiobooks, Nook Audiobooks, or Kobo Audiobooks.
And if you release your book in physical form? You can sell on most of the above retailers, like Amazon, and even keep open the chance to see your book at a physical bookstore. Sounds exciting, right?
You can get the best of both worlds with exclusivity and availability.
Some retailers offer the option to sell your book exclusively on their storefront. In exchange, you’ll often get better royalties and priority in promotions and algorithmic placement. The downside is that exclusivity commits you to only one storefront. So, if you sign up for Amazon’s KDP Select, you can’t also sell your eBook with Barnes & Noble.
However, exclusivity deals usually only apply to one format. So, you could decide to give KDP Select eBook exclusivity but then sell your book in physical and audiobook format elsewhere. You can mix and match exclusivity deals and benefit from the perks of exclusivity and the availability of multiple formats.
You increase your book’s accessibility.
Not all book readers can read a physical book. For example, some readers are visually impaired. Other accessibility considerations include learning disabilities such as dyslexia, limits in motor skills, and language ability.
Fortunately, a self-publishing author has all the tools to make an accessible book. Audiobooks are an excellent alternative for accessibility. Of course, eBooks are also beneficial in their adaptability. With an e-reader, a reader can increase the text size, change the font, look up dictionary definitions, or even enable text-to-speech.
But when formatting eBooks, you must follow accessibility guidelines. E-readers need a properly formatted file to parse text for the user. When you format your book with accessibility, your product looks more professional, and more readers can enjoy your work.
Bonus Reason: For another kind of accessibility, you can get your self-published books into libraries. This is especially easy with digital formats, and you can use book distribution services to list your book on digital lending services like OverDrive and Hoopla. In addition, the libraries that you license your book to will financially compensate you without the reader having to pay.
You can even sell readers the same book more than once in different formats
A number of retailers make it enticing to buy in two or more formats. For some Kindle eBooks, Amazon offers the option to “add Audible narration,” often at a discount. Through Whispersync technology, readers can switch between visual reading and audiobook reading without losing their place.
You can even set it up so that if a reader buys the physical version, the reader can also buy the eBook version for cheaper or even get it for free. This bundling technique significantly increases goodwill with your readers and entices them to buy your next book.
The case is strong: Multiple book formats are great for your self-publishing business and the culture of reading. Prepare your manuscript with different formats, and you’ll be a step closer to success!
I’ll turn it over to you: What book formats do you prefer? What factors influence the format you get your books in?