DPInnovation BLOG

Digital Publishing Innovation and David McKnight

To eBook or Not to eBook

One of the most common questions I get from association professionals is about eBook.  From How to, to which kind to how to we sell them to do we really need to give Amazon 30% of all sales?

eBooks are clearly a hot areas and one that every association needs to be investing in to reach members and others.   The question is not “should you” the question “how should you”.  There are entire books, and eBook, devoted to the topic of eBooks.   But for Associations here are some important considerations.

  • Understand your Market:  If your publication can be marketed to wide audience and you don’t have a relationship with them, then consider Amazon.  I would also suggest you also distribute your book with Barnes & Noble, Apple and Google (80% of the market).    If instead you have a limited potential audience for your publication and you know where the market is and you can get to it…then you should sell the publication yourself.   Be careful about trying to do both – the retailers don’t like that and forbid you from selling your publication for less than they do.   I key issue to KNOW is how do your readers want to read your eBooK.  On their Laptop, Tablets, eBook Reader or Phones.
  • Be careful of Conversions:  The process of converting content into the popular eBook formats of .Mobi (Amazon) or ePub (most others) is very straight forward and can cost less than $200 a book.  However,  if your content has equations, symbols, unique fonts, charts, tables, images or need to output to multiple languages and even one error isn’t acceptable then use a professional provider with a long record of quality conversions.
  • Pricing:  Mass marketing pricing, the sweet spot to drive sales, is between $2.99 and $9.99.  But for most Associations there is much more value, and the expense to create the publication, than those prices can support.  For some ideas on pricing see my post “Pricing of Digital Content” https://djmcknight.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/pricing-of-digital-content/.  There can be a strategy behind how you price it and if you are just getting started then you may want to price it low enough to give people a chance to try it and move the price up if it’s clear there is a market for it.
  • eBooks Options:  There are many different ways to create an eBook starting with the most common – a PDF file.   We don’t have enough space here to review ALL the options but for this blog let’s identify the two main categories of eBooks based on your market.
  • Mass market Publications or Publications you must reach readers using an eReader or Smart Phone.
    • Then consider .Mobi (Amazon) and ePub (Google, Apple and Barns & Noble) – but again – be careful of the conversion process.
  • Defined Market that you can reach and readers will be using their Laptop or Tablet (online or downloaded).
    • PDF could still be your best option.  For online access there are some great content management systems that help provide more organization, functionality and easier to bundle and sell content in smaller units (by chapters, tracks, sessions, topics).   If you have a ton of content and being able to break content down into smaller chucks has value…investigate XML.  It is the future of eBook delivery.

Your decisions around eBooks should not be made in isolation yet I do encourage associations to explore eBooks and understand the market better.   The danger is doing mothering or responding slowly is that your competition isn’t.   Readers will go to where they can find the content they want.  Google has shown us that is the case already….can you afford to not take action?


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