What Is the Best Book Publishing Format: Print, eBook, or Audiobook?

“Should I publish an eBook only?”

“Should I publish my book in print?”

“Would it be a good idea to create an audiobook version of my book?”

“Which format is best?”

These are questions that many indie authors grapple with once it comes time to prepare their books for publishing. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions vary from author to author and depend upon several factors, including an author’s goals, target audience, and budget. Because of costs, some authors may think it best to stick with just one format, while other authors see the wisdom in using multiple formats. No single approach will suit all authors, but we’ll discuss a few of the pros and cons of each format so you can make a more informed decision on how to proceed.

Print

The oldest format still commonly used today, print is a viable choice that comes with a host of options. Indie authors must decide whether their book will be hardcover or paperback, whether they’ll have a sewn or adhesive binding, and so much more. The host of options available can be overwhelming for authors, and each option has further pros and cons. For instance, hardcovers are generally considered more valuable but come with a higher production cost, while paperbacks are cheaper to produce but less durable.

Pros: Still reported as the most popular format among readers with higher perceived value and quality, easier to keep readers’ attention, greater aesthetic appeal.

Cons: Higher production and distribution costs, lower net revenue, more time to prepare for market, lower accessibility because the costs are often reflected in the cover price, more expensive to send to reviewers, greater environmental impact.

eBook

eBooks are versatile, as they can be read on a wide range of devices, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Some readers prefer eBooks because, among other reasons, the font can usually be enlarged, no external light source is necessary to read them, and eBooks, of course, take up considerably less space than print books. They are still less popular than print books, despite the advantages they offer, but that doesn’t mean there’s no market for them.

Pros: Lower production and distribution costs, faster distribution, wider reach, greater accessibility, usually can reach the market sooner, less environmental impact, easier to distribute to reviewers.

Cons: Perceived to be less valuable than print, more susceptible to piracy, more competition, less likely to keep readers’ attention (notifications may pop up and interrupt readers, and it’s easy to navigate away from the eBook).

Audiobook

Audiobooks are increasing in popularity. This is partly because readers can listen to them while performing other tasks.  In this article, we explain why authors should take advantage of this growing part of the publishing industry. Audiobooks can be digital or physical. The latter option will be more expensive to produce and more difficult to distribute.

Pros: High demand, lower competition (for now), higher profit margin, greater immersive experience for readers (depending on the quality of production), less environmental impact, convenient for readers who like or need to multitask.

Cons: Higher production costs and time commitment, usually have lower royalties, limited availability, limited sales venues, loss of visual cues to orient a reader in the story. (It’s easier to get lost or take certain phrases out of context when readers can’t see italics, dashes, commas, or ellipses, etc., especially if the voice actor glazes over them.)

In Conclusion…

Carefully weigh out the pros and cons of each option before making your decision. This Publishers Weekly report provides decent sales statistics for each format if you’d like to consider them further. Ultimately, like hundreds of other authors, you may decide to publish your book in multiple formats. It’s a good idea to publish in as many formats as possible to make your book available to the widest number of people and to broaden your stream of income.

However, keep your budget and marketing strategy in mind. Does research show that fans of your particular genre prefer one format over another? What age group are you targeting? What benefits would your readers receive from buying your book in one format over another?

Also, no matter which path you decide to take, make sure that your book is produced with quality and professionalism in mind. Don’t rely on just anyone to prepare your book. At 1106 Design, we offer end-to-end publishing assistance in print, eBook, and audiobook formats, and we have the knowledge and experience to do it right. To learn more, please contact us.

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