There's an old adage about not putting all your eggs in one basket. For those whose only experience with eggs comes on a plate or in the supermarket, let's change it to "Don't pin all your marketing hopes on a single format." If you want to sell your books, you have to start by figuring out who is in your potential audience. And then you have to find them. You may have already noticed that there are not very many teenagers in bookstores these days. And we've recently been told that college students now find plain e-books boring. But only about 19% of all adult readers actually own a device that lets them read electronic editions of books. We live in a rapidly changing society, and we have to keep up with the latest preferences, but we can't afford to ignore any segment of the reading public.
It can also be confusing to listen to the pundits talk about the latest trends. On one website, we're told that print books are dead, and e-books are the only viable publishing option. Another says that print books are alive and well, while e-books are a passing fancy. Who do you believe? Well, both, actually. Let's start by looking at the figures.
In the pie chart, the red segment represents the revenue earned by print books in 2011. Blue represents e-books, and green is for audio books. Conclusion: e-books only yield 15% of the total dollars spent on books. Are you willing to rely solely on Kindle for your income, or would you like a chunk of the other 85%?
Now look at the line graph on the right. The yellow line represents the number of copies sold in print books in the past 15 years. The orange line is for the number of e-books sold. Obviously, e-books are now outselling print books if you just count copies. The lines crossed in 2011. So the answer to the debate between print and Kindle depends on what you want to count.
For me, there are two lessons to be learned here:
Tip #4.1: Books of all kinds are more popular than ever, so keep writing. There's a hungry audience out there.
Tip #4.2: Don't limit yourself to one format. By all means, do use Kindle, but back it up with print copies.