Print vs. eBook: A Comparison for Independent Publishers – Beau Peters | Guest Post


As of 2014, the UK published more books per capita than any other country in the world. Now, thanks to advancements in technology, it’s easier to be an independent publisher than ever before. As a result, that title should continue to hold steadily.

But, technology has also created more choices on how to go about writing and publishing a book. eBook sales increased by 5% from 2017 to 2018, and that trend is likely to continue, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic with more people spending time at home.

If you’re an independent publisher, however, the choice between publishing digitally or sticking with print can be a difficult one at first. There are many things to consider, including who might be reading your book, how much it’s going to cost to get it published, and how long the process is for each path.

If you have a book that is nearly finished and you’ve started to think about the publishing process, understanding what to expect from both options can help to make your decision easier.


Who Is Your Target Audience?

Whether you’ve written a book before or not, you likely know the importance of marketing it to your audience the right way. But, who your audience is can also help you decide on whether print or digital is better.

On average, eBook readers tend to be:

  • Women
  • Younger than 45
  • Highly-educated
  • Wealthier
  • Bargain hunters

So, if you’re writing a book designed for teenagers or college students who are probably young bargain-hunters, an eBook might be the way to go. But, keep in mind that print books are still the most popular and may still be a safer bet right now, especially if you’ve never published before.

eBooks have been on a massive growth curve for years. Again, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be interesting to see how that growth has changed and if more people are starting to turn toward a digital format. For now, though, knowing your audience is half the battle when it comes to choosing the best format. If your book is for more of a general crowd, you may be better off going with print.


What Are the Costs?

When you publish your own book, most of the costs will fall directly on your shoulders. That includes everything from hiring an editor to using a designer for the cover unless you choose to design your own format using Photoshop or Illustrator. If you don’t, the average cost for designing a cover can range from $50-$250.  Every detail matters when it comes to your book budget.

The overall cost of self-publishing is anywhere from $2,000-$4,000. While printed books will cost more to make, you might also have to pay for eBook distribution, so don’t assume digital is always much cheaper.

There are additional costs to consider simply for being an independent publisher, no matter which route you choose. That includes monitoring your self-employment taxes. Be sure to use a withholding calculator or have a basic idea of what your taxes might be each year, so you know how much to set aside. If you don’t, you could be facing a big financial surprise (and not in a good way) during tax season. To report your earnings correctly, find all of your income from publishing and selling books, and report it. If you made any kind of net profit, you will likely have to pay taxes on it.

The major costs of book publishing are editing, proofreading, and marketing. Those don’t change significantly no matter how you choose to publish. The deciding cost factor can be the extra money required to print hard copies.


What Are the Processes?

The path to publishing a hard copy of a book is quite different than publishing an eBook. Understanding the processes can help you to decide which path is right for you and how much time and effort you’re willing to put in to get your book to the public.

As you might expect, a physical book takes more time and materials to make. Plus, because you never know how popular your book might be at first, it can be difficult to know how many to print. eBooks don’t require any special equipment and copies don’t have to be made since there will be an endless virtual “supply.”

There are other considerations to keep in mind as you move forward with one path over another. For example, the time it takes to actually get your book out there. If you want to publish an eBook, you can expect the following steps:

  1. Write your book.
  2. Format the book for e-publishing.
  3. Upload your book to the publishing platform.
  4. Choose the publishing date.
  5. Market the launch date.
  6. Launch your book.

Most publishing sites, like Amazon, only require about 24-72 hours to review your book and ensure that it meets their guidelines. So, once your book is finished, you can technically make it public in a matter of days.

On the other hand, it can be difficult to say how long it takes for a printed book to get published. Even if you are an independent publisher, it can still take several weeks for the book to be created, edited, and formatted.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how to publish your book. It comes down to which factors are most important to you, and how you want people to experience the words you’ve written.

Keep these comparisons in mind if you’re planning on launching a book soon. No matter your budget, audience, or schedule, there is no reason your book can’t reach the masses.



Beau Peters is professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he has learned a slew of tricks in the business world and enjoys sharing them with others who carry the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work.


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