Dave, what format do you recommend for distributing a 75-page comprehensive research glossary for a popular and prolific alternative health author? He suggests that it should be an ebook, but that lends itself so easily to piracy. Plus people are going to want it printed out and handy during workshops and individual sessions. However, one of the biggest features are the zillion hyperlinks within the document and the ability to search for keywords. My thinking right now is to do a spiral book (like my poetry) and to include the file on CD for an extra charge. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions on this?
Publishing is definitely changing, and it’s fascinating to see what media are coming to the forefront while others are slowly dropping into obsolescence. While one primary motivation for authors is what I’ll call “getting the word out”, influencing the public discourse with their own ideas and thoughts, another primary motivation is revenue. Both are important, though they can sometimes be at cross-purposes in terms of the best way to disseminate a completed work.
In this instance, I strongly suggest that you consider just making your new book a regular PDF download without any digital rights management (DRM) encryption or similar. Instead, a strongly worded page at the beginning of the book that explains how much time and effort went into the production of your work and how, without any blame or threats, readers are encouraged to go online and pay for an official licensed copy of the ebook rather than passing it around gratis. If readers are interested, I can dig up a template or two for this as some of my colleagues have similar material in their ebooks.
The thing is that most of the people who would be happy to get a free copy probably wouldn’t have purchased a legit copy in the first place. That’s why I’m not too bothered by the free-to-download hacked copies of my own books on the P2P networks: anyone who would download a 400 page book and think they’ve beaten the system isn’t going to buy my $30 book anyway.
If people want a printed copy, I’d offer to print, bind and mail them a hardcopy for an additional fee of $20-$30 (Go to Kinko’s and price out their spiral bound packaging, then add the cost of an envelope for mailing, the postal cost and at least 20% for your time and hassle).
So I can see your ebook in PDF format being, say, $49.95, the hardcopy being $39.95 and a special dual-media format being a special price of $74.95. I bet you’d sell a ton of them.
Oh, and then if the primary practitioner/author wants to sell your new ebook off his own site, with his own shopping cart, etc., I’d offer him a 20% commission on each sale, which would still leave you a nice average profit of $35 or more per sale.
Even with just a few hundred copies, that’s a nice little income stream!
The world of publishing is unquestionably changing rapidly and while new technologies like print on demand are increasing in importance, the ramifications of these changes are far more interesting. It leads to the question of what’s the best way for you, the reader, to digest the material I produce as an author as opposed to the more banal question of “how cheaply can you print and distribute this book”.
Keep an eye on this industry. There are dramatic changes afoot and some very smart people creating nimble, agile competitors to the increasingly huge traditional publishing houses.