Book ‘em, Dano

I Guess I’m a Print Guy

By Jeff Salter

There are several facets to our topic this week, but before I begin parsing them out for y’all, let me state things clearly: I love print. Since I was a kid (being read to by parents), I’ve loved the look and feel of the pages. While still a kid, but old enough to read by myself, I devoured books and collected books (many of which I still possess… somewhere). When I was just a fifth grader, I wrote a little story – Sci-Fi, if you can believe it – on small book-sized pages and stapled it together with cardboard covers. That was my first “published” book. I entered Library School in 1976, not because I loved library buildings, but because I loved BOOKS. Back then, “books” meant paper. Sure, we had microfilm, microfiche, filmstrips, and other media… but our stock in trade was books. The real stuff.

openbooks

Yes, I have a Kindle and yes, I’ve read plenty of books on it. Usually that’s because I don’t have a print copy of a particular title or the print copy is 5-6 times more expensive. I’ve never found the Kindle experience to be as satisfying — too many glitches with the page not advancing, or advancing too far, or me trying to scroll back to something that I can never find again, etc. In other words, NOT user-friendly — at least not to me. Though I’m sure the newer generations are in hog heaven with E-books.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s delve into this week’s sub-topics.

My Titles

I currently have 17 fiction titles released (with another title in the pipeline). Of those, only 9 are in paperback. That’s not my decision. I work with three wonderful publishers and each has a different approach to whether and when to release paperback versions. I figure we’re riding on their vehicle and we go with their rules of the road.

That said, I love the feeling of holding my own book (in paperback) — to read my own titles a few years later, is so much better an experience in paper. [Note: in non-fiction, I’m co-author of two hardcover books from a different royalty publisher. Those titles, released in 1988 and 1991, in hardcover, were an absolute WONDER for me to clutch in my sweaty hands. I never cared for the cover design of either title, but a hardcover book with my own name on it… is a feeling I’ll never forget.]

Profit-Margin

It will likely shock any of you who are not authors, but there is almost NO profit margin in print books. If I sell an E-copy of a $3 title, my royalty is around 72 cents. Not bad, when you think of percentages. But if I sell a print copy of that same title (let’s say it lists for $15), I might receive 25 cents or even less. Shocked? I certainly was. But print has all those other costs involved: production, storage, packing, shipping, etc. E-books, on the other hand, are “delivered” with a few simple clicks of the mouse.

Now if I buy – at discounted author rate – a batch of a particular paperback title, I might get them for around $9 – $10 (or so) each. When I sell those at an author event for the Amazon list price of about $14 – $15, I can make a very decent profit from each book sold. But then I’ve got to acquire the inventory, lug it around, store it between author events, etc.

Preferences of Others

As at least one of the foxes (so far this week) has stated: there are quite a few readers who either don’t like E-format or don’t possess a device capable of easily utilizing those files. There are many others who are ABLE to read digital formats, but still greatly prefer print. I hate to disappoint them by saying, “I’m sorry, that title is not available in paper.” Someone else noted already this week is that authors attending book events need “real” copies of their titles on their tables to sell. Just having an enlarged color version of the title’s cover is not the same as having a small stack of that title in paperback.

Summary:

No need to summarize — y’all know how I feel about print. But I will leave you with my own version of a quote I’ve seen in various places and attributed to various people:

E-books won’t REPLACE print books any more than escalators replaced stairs. We use both, interchangeably.

There are other versions of this quote, but I think that one captures it pretty well. Print and E-formats can co-exist and a goodly portion of our reading population may go back and forth, depending on circumstances, pricing, availability, and personal mood. I see no problem with that.

Question:

Which format do YOU prefer? Are there certain genres that you prefer to read in E-format?

[JLS # 452]

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About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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16 Responses to Book ‘em, Dano

  1. jbrayweber says:

    I prefer print books in genres or of authors I love. It’s a special relationship, I guess. I love my bookshelf with my favorites. But I whole-heartedly enjoy eBooks, too. I am more likely to take a chance on an author by purchasing their eBooks at a cheaper rate than spend more for a print copy. Plus, instant delivery.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Patricia Kiyono says:

    The like the analogy of stairs to escalators. Escalators don’t work when there’s no power, and things can go wrong – although unlike you, I’ve never had issues with swiping pages on a Kindle. My husband has trouble sometimes with his smart phone – must be something about men’s fingers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jeff Salter says:

      well, as a matter of full disclosure, the particular Kindle I have is not only an older version, but it’s the bottom of the line. That said, I had better luck with an even OLDER version that I borrowed from my daughter several years ago, because it had BUTTONS with which to advance (or reverse) the pages.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Janice Harshbarger says:

    I’m a reader and a writer, a keeper of memories for both family and town. I try to limit my print books to those that have some connection to family, whether a single mention or a whole book, or to reference books. I buy other books, but with the intent of reading them and then giving them away. As a writer, I’m grateful for anyone who will read either of my books, however they want to read them. I didn’t write them to make money, but to share stories that need to be remembered. I read a lot of books on Kindle, too, but have set myself a price limit on those books, and I try to stick to that budget. I find that I tend to forget more of what I read on Kindle, for whatever reason.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeff Salter says:

      if you don’t retain as much of what you read in e-format, I believe it’s because you’re not experiencing the tactile part of the reading process… that you have with print books.
      I sort of have that same reaction — the screen version tends to evaporate from my noggin.

      Like

      • Elaine Cantrell says:

        I read an article about a certain school that is doing away with the tablet version of their textbooks and going back to print books. Kids do seem to learn better from print, at least according to this article. That being said, I agree that there’s room for both ebooks and print. I like them both.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with your, Jeff. Ecopies and paperbacks can co-exist. They will. And the doom-sayers that keep harping on “the print book will disappear” have no idea what they are talking about. Paperback and hardcovers will no more disappear than the Bible has. And we know how some have harped on that.

    As jbrayweber mentioned above, people are more likely to take a chance on a less expensive ebook with a new author than purchase the real thing. I don’t blame them. I’ve spent good money on a book only to find it one I’m sorry I purchased. However, I’m one of those people who cannot read an ebook. It’s not that I don’t have anything to read it on, I can even do that on the free program on my LT, but after working all day writing and editing on my computer, and all the other things I have to work on via the screen (website, newsletter, critiques, group forum, etc.), I just can’t relax by reading even my favorite book or author that way. I have to curl up on the couch or a good comfy chair and hold the book in my lap. Now THAT’S relaxation.

    Being a Christian Romance Suspense author, I wrote my books not to make money, but to get my stories out there for people to enjoy. It thrills me just as much when one of my readers who have purchased my book tells me they shared it with someone else who is enjoying it. To me, that equals success. The idea that my follower loved the story so much they would give it to someone else and say, “You’ve got to read this.” That being said, I do make more than you do on each paperback, Jeff. But that’s probably because I’m an Indie Author. I don’t have to share that with an agent or publisher outside of KDP Printing. One of the many reasons I chose the Indie path. My books are all in both ebook and paperback form.

    Yes, paperback and ebook are here to stay. We’re all different and have different preferences, like we do with our choice of reading material. I’m just as happy when I receive my report of how many ebooks sold or were shared as I am about the report of those sold in paperback.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      to hear from a reader who not only enjoyed your story but is eagerly sharing it with someone else — those are among the sweetest words we can hear, here on earth.
      Yeah, I was floored when I got my first royalty statement that included paperbacks to learn that my “take” was a lousy two-bits per sale. I had (naively) not factored in all the production costs and Amazon overhead and assumed I’d be getting 40% of the list price. Ha. It’s 40% of the net profit that I receive. And the net profit on a paperback is hardly enough to buy hot coffee at Burger King.

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      • Jeff, if you’re only getting $0.25 per book, someone is keeping more of the profit than they should. I’d look into that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jeff Salter says:

          believe me, I did. It was explained. the outfit that does the actual printing and binding keeps most of that money, as would be expected. Then Amazon keeps the next largest chunk, because they deal with the handling and billing and coordination. That leaves a relatively small amount for the publisher, who then passes along my royalty.

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          • That’s why I use KDP Print. All that’s taken out of my royalty is Amazon’s part. After the cost of the book and their 60%, I get the 40%. The book only costs between $5 and $6 to print. If you book is listed for $14.99, and the $5 to 6 is taken out you get 40% of what’s left.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. My opening for tomorrow’s post is much like yours, what can we say? We’re true BIBLIOPHILES. We also love stories, but that is not the same.
    I agree with Jenn, Sharon, and Janice: I cannot imagine ebooks replacing all print. If nothing else, what of ‘coffee table books’? Looking at photos of the Italian countryside, the beaches of the Caribbean, the art of the Impressionists just is not the same, (and with digitalization, the photos now really POP!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      yes, coffee table books and things like Chilton’s auto repair manuals — are among the type things that E-formats will never be able to replace (for me).
      Eager to see what the Friday Fox has to say.

      Like

  6. I don’t think print books will ever disappear. I know so many kids ( teenagers included) who love their ereaders bur also enjoy books in print. My daughter has a Kindle filled with books but she still buys at least one book in print a month. Anyone who thinks print books are being faded out have obviously not walked into a Scholastic Book Fair recently! I

    I would rather read a physical book. I don’t care for the feel of my Kindle when reading and it strains my eyes and causes headaches. My shelves are filled with classics, which I feel anyone would love. I buy print copies of books that I feel I will read more than once or if I think one of my kids would enjoy reading it some day. I do have a lot of ebooks though, they’re certainly more portable. I will carry one print book with me then my ereader too just in case I finish the print book while I’m out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      that sounds like a true balance — carry at least one print book along with your e-reader. That way, when the battery fritzes out, you still have a “real” book handy.
      I’m glad to hear that the newest generation still values print books.
      On this same general subject, I wonder if print newspapers and magazines will soon go out of business. But that’s a horse of a different color.

      Like

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