With the rise and rise of ebook publishing, it would be easy to think that producing a paper version of your business book is an outdated idea. Why bother, when producing an ebook is quick and cheap, and an increasing number of people prefer the portability of the ebook?
Well, the paper book is not dead yet. Here are five reasons why you should still consider a printed version of your business book (and most other genres too):
On one level the printed book may seem old-hat, but there is no doubt that a paper book still holds considerable weight in the credibility stakes. Being able to present a prospect or client with a professionally produced copy of your book will give your credibility an enormous boost. A book makes you an author – an authority on your topic. You are immediately positioned as an expert in your field.
Rightly or wrongly, sending someone an electronic version of your book just doesn't have the same impact. The same goes for publicity: a radio producer probably won't even open an ebook, but they will look at a printed book.
If you're an ebook reader, how many unread ebooks do you have on your current reading device(s)? Sure, you probably have numerous unread paper books too (or is that only me?) but at least with those they are on your bookshelf, shouting out to be read every time you turn towards them. Ebooks are so easily forgotten or lost forever in a sea of bits.
Similarly, a printed book is more likely to be loaned to someone else – we've always done this. "I recommend you read this..." has more meaning when accompanied by the reader's own copy of the book, complete with notes and sticky tabs.
If you're self-publishing, and particularly if you are a speaker or run workshops, printed books can be, paradoxically, more profitable than ebooks. There are more upfront costs, but without the middlemen of distributors and retailers you can sell a $4 printed book for $30 or more – a good margin. By contrast, the expectation for a 'costless' ebook is a retail price of around $10.
What's more, people are more likely to buy your printed book on the spot if they've enjoyed your session; heading home with the intention of buying the ebook will often lead to ... well ... nothing.
I've written before about the need to treat producing a book as 'special' – as creating a tailored suit rather than a ten-buck t-shirt. My experience is that there is much more impetus to do this when the book will be printed. Perhaps it's because of the investment needed to print a book, or because of its inherent finality. Either way, people put more effort into paper books so their overall quality tends to be higher.
Something a few ebook authors find disappointing is the limited ability to format an epub ebook. For instance, because these books can be altered by the reader (in terms of font choice and size), images need to appear 'in-line' without any text-wrapping. For books with a lot of images, this can break the text up a lot. The PDF format and Apple's own iBook format work around this, but they each have limitations in terms of portability and distribution.
So don't discount printing. It may not be as expensive as you think, and there are certainly plenty of pluses, especially when considered from a business perspective.