The Reality of Paperbacks versus E-books for Indie Authors

There is an opinion going around that I wish to address. Here it is: Paperbacks provide more value to their author.

I have encountered this several times. A few fans believed that paperbacks are more valuable to me in terms of royalties and exposure.

This simply isn't true.

I make approximately $1.00 per paperback sale on both of my paperback novels. Their equivalent e-books bag me $3.45 per book for The Eye of God and $4.14 per book for Storm Without End

So, why the royalty differences between The Eye of God and Storm Without End? The Eye of God, as my very first published novel, is far more flawed than my second book. Like others, I was learning. I captured a lot of what I wanted to, but I had a lot of fledgling errors. Some I've fixed. Some will never get fixed.

The book is also only 80,000 words. So, I priced it at $4.99.

Storm Without End rings in at 100,000 words, and is a far stronger novel, in my opinion. It's much closer to where I want to be in my storytelling skills. So, I think the price difference matches the novels very well.

Both of these books get me 70% royalties on the e-book versions.

The paperback novels essentially get me production costs minus amazon's cut, then my cut thereafter. I don't know the exact figures, because it was something I was giving to my fans rather than something I ever expect to make real money from. That said, traditionally published novelists often get a big, bad $0.25 per printed copy sold. (That used to be the standard. I'm not sure if that still applies.)

Honestly, I included the paperbacks because I felt some people still just love the feeling of a paperback book, so I wanted to make sure I could give that to them.

That's all.

Leave a Comment:

Paul says January 5, 2014

You only consider the monetary part of value. While you may receive more monetary value from an e-book, I think most authors receive more recognition with PB or HC editions. I have yet to give an ebook I’ve just read to a friend and say “you have to read this.” But with PB HC books I have done that many times. Also, it is hard to donate an ebook to the library.

    RJBlain says January 5, 2014

    Libraries are starting to accept e-book donations to go into their e-systems. It’s becoming much more common.

    Yes, PB / HC can be given as gifts, but I’ve had many friends loan me books via kindle’s system and say “You have to read this!” — bam, 10 minutes later, I have the book in my email for 2 weeks.

    Can’t do that with PB / HC if they live somewhere other than next door. 🙂

    But yes, the article DOES focus on monetary part of value, because I’m being a realist here — until the day I do somehow become famous (if that ever happens, which I doubt) the non-monetary value of PB / HC isn’t a reality for me.

Patricia Walker says January 22, 2014

It’s interesting to note the difference in real costs of a physical book versus an e-book… I was firmly entrenched in the “if it’s not paper it isn’t a book” camp until a recent fall left me unable to hold the weight of a book. I discovered the delights of my e-reader which had remained unpacked since it was bought for me until my inability to hold the book I was reading and am now in the process of replacing m,y much loved paperbacks with e-books and have the added delight of dust free space! I have certainly become a firm e-book fan! E-books make as good a gift to a reader as any paper version does…assuming the said reader has an e-reader!

Add Your Reply