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.