Should You Publish a Digital or Physical Book?

By Beth Brombosz, PhD

Jun 21

One question I get from prospective authors quite often is whether they should publish a digital or physical book. Or, some think that they absolutely should go one way or the other with their book, not fully recognizing the pros and cons of each. Today I’d like to walk you through some pros and cons of creating digital and physical books to help you decide how you’ll publish your book.

When you're ready to publish your first book, should it be a digital or physical book? Learn the pros and cons of each in this article.


Digital books are becoming much more popular than they have been in the past. It’s a lot easier to carry around a tablet, e Reader, or even your phone than it is to lug around a huge stack of books. Amazon’s Kindle is still the top place where readers are going to buy digital books, so if you’re creating a digital book, definitely consider selling it on Kindle.

Digital books often cost less to deliver. Because you’re not sending a physical product, you’ll often make more money selling a digital book. It’s also easier to deliver a book electronically. However, if you’re self publishing through avenues like Amazon Kindle, be aware that you may be charged for delivery costs, which are based on the file size of your book. If your book contains a lot of images, the delivery costs can cut into your royalties.

Digital books are easy to sell on your blog. Because digital books are so easy to deliver, they’re also very easy to sell on your blog. It’s fairly simple to sell a PDF of your book on your blog using PayPal to collect payment. If you don’t want to deal with other distributors like Amazon, a digital book may be the way to go.


Some readers very strongly prefer to read physical books. If you only publish your book digitally, you may miss out on some potential readers. Many readers just prefer to read hard copies of books–they like the feel and the smell of the book. When deciding between publishing a digital or physical book, you may want to choose both.

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Some genres work better as a physical book. This is particularly true for some non-fiction books. Would your reader prefer to leaf through a hard copy of your book to browse your content? If so, a physical book is likely the way to go. This is often the case for cookbooks and other books that your reader will want to look at as he or she completes a task or activity.

You’ll need physical books for book signings. If you plan to promote your book with in-person events at places like bookstores, having physical copies of your book is a must. (That is, unless you want to write with a permanent marker on someone’s tablet.) Again, depending on your genre, there may be locations where you could set up a table and sell your book. Or, you could ask local specialty retailers if they would¬†sell your book. Having a physical book can present opportunities that digital books don’t.

There’s no feeling like holding your book in your hand. Yes, it’s a great accomplishment to publish an eBook. But, you just don’t get the same feeling looking at your book on an e Reader as you do actually holding a copy of your book in your hand. I know I didn’t really feel like I had written a book until I got the first physical copy of my book. If that’s an experience that you’d like to have, self publishing a physical book may be the way to go.


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When you're ready to publish your first book, should it be a digital or physical book? Learn the pros and cons of each in this article.

Aretha July 5, 2016

I’m publishing both physical and digital. Great article!!!

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