Death of the Paperback? Not a Chance.

The Death of the Paperback has been prophesied pretty much from the moment the first Kindle was announced. It only got worse with the death of Borders and the decline in market share for Barnes & Noble. But, guess what? Paperbacks are alive and well, and yes, lots of people (more than ever, actually) are buying them. And, I'll let you in on something: I sold more paperbacks last year (and so far this year) than I sold ebooks. Ponder that for a moment.

How is this possible? People love how books feel and smell. Period.

The glow of the Kindle or iPad screen just doesn't do it for a lot of people. But even though many of you reading this only buy your books in paperback form, I see the question over and over on message boards: Does it make sense to put my book out in print form?

I don't answer those questions anymore. I leave that for other group members to handle. Usually, they tell the author asking the question that print books are good to have for events and such, but ebooks will be their biggest seller.

They're missing out on a huge market share by only pushing their ebooks, but I can only say this so often before it gets old.

So, how do I sell more paperbacks than I sell ebooks? A number of things need to come together for this to happen.

  • I promote them just as often, if not more often, than my ebook versions.
  • My books have great covers that people want to see on their shelf.
  • My paperbacks aren't too expensive or too cheap.
  • My ebooks are priced higher than many other ebooks (they're rarely $.99).
  • My books have great reviews that put them on par with other books people read in paperback on the subway, in the doctor's office, curled up in their favorite chair with cup of coffee or tea.
  • My book descriptions put my books in a category with other fantasy authors whose fans prefer print books.

Now, you're wondering what cheap ebooks has to do with selling print books and what that last point means.

To answer the first question, I'll ask you a question. Would you pay $16 or more for a print book when you can get the ebook for free or really cheap? No. Of course not.

To answer the second question, I'll say that you should look at the description for a book like The Blade Itself or The Name of the Wind, both of which have sold tons of paperbacks. Now, look at a fantasy book that is in the $.99 ebook category.

What do you notice? The descriptions are night and day, right?

The books I named have descriptions that tell a story, one you want to buy. You need that just as much as you need a really nice cover. And, paired with the high price of the ebooks for those titles, you're probably going to order the print book. Because why buy an ebook copy for that high a price, when you can have a paperback?

So, the next time someone tells you that paperbacks are on the way out or that putting out a print version of your book is really just for in-person events, remember this. Paperbacks are alive and well.


Yep, and now, I'm going to remind you that the paperback sale on my Cathell books is ending in just a couple days. Get it while you can.