One of the things I like about e-books is the fact that they have longer “shelf” lives than print books.  I like that I can think of an obscure title that I read and loved back in the Dark Ages—when Reagan was president and I still thought a flat iron was a good idea on my hair—and have it in my e-reader within seconds.  As much as I love physical books, I relish the convenience of accessing information or pleasure reading without waiting for half an hour while a surly bookstore clerk goes digging in his computer to see on what shelf there might or might not be a copy to be found.

Personally, if I love an e-book, I’ll more than likely find a way to buy a physical copy.  But, what my own e-buying trends (and those of my friends and colleagues) tell me is that digital books can sell more and longer than print copies that have to fight for shelf space, if marketed correctly, and can tap into ever-renewing markets with ease.

This Galleycat piece about how to re-energize sales of old titles is worth checking out by authors thinking of self-publishing, or digitizing their backlist, or helping their publishers promote their titles.

Case in point: Through DGLM’s e-book program (which we’ve blogged about here) we recently put up the late John Comer’s Combat Crew, a gripping memoir of the 25 combat missions Comer flew over Europe during WWII.  The book had been out of print for some time and Jim Comer, John’s son wanted to get it back out there for a new generation of readers and for the veterans and military personnel who would doubtlessly be fascinated by his father’s stories.  Reaching these specific markets and having hit the pricing sweet spot, the e-book has been an unqualified success.  And, indeed, a new generation of readers is discovering this classic narrative.

So, before you e-publish think about what markets you want to reach and how, think about pricing and don’t over- or under-price, and read as much as you can about internet marketing.  It will pay dividends and give your work an extra-long life.


3 Responses to Longevity

  1. The ability to find out-of-print books on my e-reader has been one of its biggest perks–but then it becomes doubly frustrating when an ebook version isn’t available. I don’t have any books published yet, but I do have experience as a consumer, and these types of promotions have definitely enticed me to buy more than a few books I might not have been in a hurry to get right away.

  2. Rima says:

    Flat irons are no longer in vogue? I weep.

    And I agree with you about the e-books. I often download samples of a book as soon as it pops into my head as something I’d like to read or reread, and then, more often than not, I end up buying it.

  3. Catherine Whitney says:

    You nailed my favorite thing about e-books. I just read War and Remembrance. A Herman Wouk book never would have occurred to me, but there it was on an ebook list. (I never read Wouk back when I straightened my hair with Dippity Doo.) From the author standpoint, there are new opportunities as well, although the marketing commitment has to be there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>