Friday, April 18, 2014

Mini Rant on Paper vs. Digital Debate



Traditional or Digital: Who Wins?
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A reporter contacted me for input on traditional books vs digital. I couldn’t let my reply get seen only by his readers, because I think my retail experience adds something “to the conversation” (as everyone seems to be saying these days), though I think I prefer the phrase “to the debate.” The letter also serves as an example of a casual query—one in which there may have already been contact between reporter and author. Notice that even with contact already made, it is important for people to reintroduce themselves. Reporters are busy people. We want to make it easy on them.

Erik, I am the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books--one series for writers and one for retailers. I have nearly 30 years experience as founder and owner of my own retail chain and nearly two decades as a journalist and writer (Good Housekeeping Magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune, my own books and more.)

Those who see e-books and traditionally published books as a competition are way off base. Any retailer (see above) knows you give the customer what they want, when they want it and in the form they want it. You don't see the smart ones refusing to let people pay for things the way the want to pay for them, either.” Will you take a check?” they ask. The answer is always: “Any way our good customer wants to pay for something is good for us.” 

Traditional publishers are starting to see this and some e-book publishers are avid about digital production because they see the possibilities (and perhaps because they like the possible profit margin), but I know of no publisher that wouldn’t benefit by getting both streams of income. One of these book iterations is not going to win a contest as best (or better than!) any more than TV won over radio. Different readers find different formats for different needs, different preferences. Some like to have the same book in both iterations and, obviously Amazon realized this when they started their new Matchbook program.* 

It's time publishers just get over it and give their customers what they want, when they want it, and get profitable in the process.

*Note: Almost all my books on Amazon—from how-to books to poetry—are now available as e-books to those who buy the paper book. They get them--either free or at a greatly reduced price--with Amazon’s MatchBook. I see Amazon's new program as a way to thank my readers for their loyalty and—as an extra stream of income when I don’t mark the add-on digital copy as totally free.


 

CHJ
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .  Retailers will find my retail blog at http://frugalretailing.blogspot.com.  

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