I don’t have anything against ebooks. I liked my Kindle, especially for reading in bed on cold nights—so much easier turning pages with just one hand poking out from under the blankets. After a bit of experimenting, I found I would opt for an ebook if I wanted an easy read where I would start at page one and read straight through in a short time, or if I was travelling. I still preferred a print book for non-fiction or more challenging fiction. I liked to be able to go back when I suddenly realised the significance of something mentioned earlier. I also liked to flick ahead to see how many more pages to the end of the chapter so I could decide whether to turn the light out or keep reading.
Another advantage of ebooks is that they are cheaper, even if you’re like me and buy mostly $9+ range. Except they aren’t really cheaper, not when you look at the whole cost. An ebook is useless without a device to read it on. Yesterday I picked up my Kindle and was about to go on an ebook buying binge, and this is what I saw:
Nothing but vertical and horizontal white lines intersecting over the screen. My technical advisor (aka my husband) was straight onto it and soon advised that the screen was munted (and in case anyone who’s not from New Zealand stumbles across this post, ‘munted’ means irretrievably broken, knackered, wrecked). And it’s out of warranty. Maybe it’s just bad luck that it stopped working, but I’d never really thought about the lifespan of these devices before, and by extension, ebooks.
Do I really want to spend $190 replacing a device that’s not even two years old? By the time I spread the cost of two devices across the cost of the ebooks I buy, it would be cheaper just to go down to a bookshop and pay for a print book. And that’s what I intend to do from now on. I might eventually get another device and start reading ebooks again, but I’m in no hurry.
Bubu came into our house when he was three years old. He was already seriously overweight and simultaneously timid and aggressive. His face, paws and tail were dainty, and despite the fact that he wasn’t greedy and didn’t eat much, we could never get the weight off him.
He arrived almost by accident. When his predecessor died, we asked our vet to let us know if he had any cats come in that needed re-homing. Big mistake. Two weeks later the vet phoned and soon after Bubu moved in with us. We thought his name was rather silly, but he wouldn’t answer to anything else, so the name stayed.
He mellowed over the years, especially after we moved from Wellington to Christchurch. In Wellington our house was in the shade of a hill; here our house gets all-day sun. Bubu knew within minutes exactly where the sun was at any time of the day, any time of the year. Although his temper improved, he still found it necessary to reprimand us at times with a swift whack or an unfriendly bite. In later years he took to stalking my father’s dog whenever he visited. He only once sat on a lap, but every night he would burrow under the cover on our bed and push his way into the best spot.
He went down-hill fast and the weight fell off him. Despite this, he seemed quite happy sleeping in the sun and snuggling up beside us, but never on us. After a month of this he became lethargic and stopped eating. The vet told us he had almost no kidney function left. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t pee, so sadly we had him euthanised.
I didn’t think I’d miss the bad-tempered old fellow, but I do.
In these days of e-books and print on demand, why would any writer publish their first book using traditional print? It means paying all the costs of printing upfront and taking the risk of ending up being out of pocket if sales aren’t enough to cover the costs. Nevertheless, that’s what I’m doing–I’ve decided to self-publish ‘What Are You Doing Here?’ as a print book.
Before going down this path, I thought carefully about how people might want to read and buy my book and how I can reach my market. I came up with what I think are a couple of good reasons for choosing print. Reason number one: my hunch is that people who will prefer to read it in print; they might like to go back to it after they have read it or perhaps lend it to someone else. Reason number two: with e-book and print on demand options distribution is mainly online (you go to a website to order the book). But I intend to get out and talk to people, and selling books direct is a main plank in my marketing plan. I need a print book for that.
I wouldn’t necessarily make the same decision for a different book; nor have I ruled out the possibility of doing an e-book later on. Of course, I could fall flat on my face and end up with the spare room full of unsold books. I’m taking a risk, but the print run is small enough for me to be reasonably optimist that I can sell enough copies to cover my costs. The plan is to start small and local and then grow.
The book is at the printer now, so there’s no going back.