eBooks and Printed Books: Why Not Both?

eBooks and printed books

When it comes to eBooks and printed books for your self-published title, it’s not an either/or situation to find your maximum reading audience.

Download your free copy today!

Excerpted from BookBaby’s latest guide, 5 Steps To Self Publishing, Part III of our series looks at the benefits of producing eBooks and printed books for your self-published title.

By now, most self-published authors understand the benefits of selling eBooks:

  • Low cost of entry into the marketplace – affordable distribution that gives you worldwide reach and low manufacturing costs per unit (beyond the initial design, formatting, and conversion);
  • Unlimited and eternal shelf-space with nearly instant delivery to your fans;
  • Highly portable and customizable reading experience with readability across devices (tablet, smartphone, eReader, desktop).

Still, there remain quite a few “holdouts” who refuse to offer their books in the digital format. The usual argument is that a book – especially their book – is worth more than $2.99, or $4.99, or $9.99, or whatever the trending eBook price may be. In their stubbornness, they’re sticking to printed books, which warrant (at least in their minds) a higher price tag.

Unfortunately, these authors are confusing price with value. Truth be told, books are only worth what readers are willing to pay for them. For established authors, that can be a pretty good sum. But for most undiscovered authors, that’s usually not the case.

That’s why eBooks are the perfect medium for self-published authors. When you publish an eBook, the associated production costs are minimal, which means you can keep the price low and make up in volume what you lose in revenue per unit sold. This is a proven method for building readership, and print-only self-publishers are missing out on this opportunity.

Why printed books still matter

There’s a strong case for publishing a printed version of your book. Sure, eReaders and tablet devices are everywhere these days, but according to a recent study, only 4% of active readers purchase digital books exclusively. That means 96% of readers still purchase and read printed books. In fact, among a younger demographic (age 30 and below), 50% of readers purchase printed books only.

Why do most readers still prefer physical books to digital? According to a recent poll by Colour & Thing, it comes down to factors such as:

  • Readers enjoy the tactile experience. The heft of the book, the weight and smell of the paper, and the dog-eared pages; it’s tough to recreate all these in ones and zeros.
  • Printed books are best for collecting. Most readers love to flaunt their personal library on bookshelves.
  • Learning is often easier with print. Many folks find it easier to study with a bunch of books open on their table, rather than multiple browser windows or electronic devices.

When you publish a printed book with a great design and a striking cover, you can reach the majority of readers who are more likely to buy physical books. Your books can be placed in libraries, easily sold at readings and signing events, and are so convenient to have on hand in case you meet someone who seems interested in your writing!

So will it be eBooks and printed books?


When you publish both eBooks and printed books, you set yourself up to capture the widest possible audience: you have a product and price-point for everyone.

A free sample chapter or low-priced eBook may act as a “gateway drug” to your entire body of work, and once they’re hooked, your readers should be able to purchase your writing in their preferred format. Make sure you’re meeting your readers’ needs: that’s how you get paid, after all.

This post was excerpted and adapted from 5 Steps To Self Publishing: All the essential information you need to go from manuscript to marketplace. Download your free copy today.


Find your way to self-
publishing success in just 5 easy steps with this 62-page book. Yours absolutely free.


Related Posts
What is an eBook?
There has never been a better time to self-publish
Seven basic – but important – questions about eBooks
What is an eBook?
Making A Print Book? Here Are Three Decisions You Need To Make.


Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.


  1. I don’t have a problem with selling my book at a lower cost as an eBook. I have a problem with the book being easy to steal electronically. This is happening more often nowadays. How do we avoid this problem.

  2. Completely agree that “both” is the way to go if you are able to. If you’re worried about not having room to store your books before they’re sold, go for short run printing to start.

  3. Just don’t know where to start. I have written many things, songs, plays, short stories. First time to attempt publication. My book is in two parts. The title is “Rob, Mom and Budsley. The first part of the book is told by Mom and the second part of the book is told by Budsley who is now in “dog” heaven. It has humor, love, nostalgia and really touches the heart.. It covers his “singing lessons” by Rob resulting in his ability to sing “aaaaaaaaa”, high and low, It is perfect for children who want to know where their Poodle, Lab., or just “dog” went when he died.

    If publication is achieved, my dream is to take it a step further and create a dog that looks just like Budsley (with ears just like Budsley’s) who can sing aaaaaaaaa, high and low, when each paw is pressed.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.