Pondering the Trade Paperback Question

Back in 2015, I parted company with my publisher and got the rights back to my four Casey Holland mysteries and cover art. It was an amicable arrangement and I purchased unsold stock at a really reasonable price. Until COVID, I was selling copies of those four books at various craft fairs, festivals, and other events until COVID.

I ran out of stock on the first book, The Opposite of Dark, so I reformatted the book to match the formatting I did for books five and six. What I didn’t do was create a paperback version on Amazon. Given that my publisher sold few print books through that venue, I never seriously considered this option. In fact, the vast majority of indie authors I know sell few print books on Amazon.

As I suspected, the book cover art that my publisher gave me no longer fits. With my formatting, the font is slightly larger to make the text more readable, but it also adds 40 pages to the book. After discussion with a colleague and some fiddling with my daughter’s help, the cover still won’t fit. It looks like I’ll need to have all four covers reformatted by a professional, which I’m hoping my jacket designer can do.

I haven’t reformatted the other three books yet. I’m down to between 50 and 100 copies of each book, which will last a couple of years or more, depending on how soon craft fairs reopen. Honestly, though, reformatting is a finicky, time-consuming process, especially when I’m busy editing new work and marketing my ebooks. So, now I’m wondering if it’s worth the time and effort to redo the print books now, when I won’t need them for some time and they’re not likely to sell on Amazon. The thing is, I don’t plan to sell at craft fairs indefinitely. I’ve done it for seven or eight years now and, on some levels, I’m ready to wind down that part of my writing life.

I’m curious to know if those of you who are authors consider it essential to have a paperback version of your books available on Amazon and other platforms?

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired me to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for my my Casey Holland transit security novels. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at dpurdykong@gmail.com

19 thoughts on “Pondering the Trade Paperback Question”

  1. I read lots of mysteries always as ebooks. These days I read all my fiction on a Kindle. I generally get them through Netgalley, Kindle Unlimited, my library, etc . The most I pay is $1.99 and KU is, of course, a monthly sub, but the rest are usually free books other sources. A new novel from a fave author, I order from the library in print.
    Nonfiction is different for me — I prefer print d/t images, maps, etc. I always borrow them from the library first to see if I want to buy them.

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  2. Following. I offer all of my books as print through Amazon. about 20% of sales are print which really surprised me. I’m curious how it goes for others.

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  3. Debra, I feel for you and all the hassle trying to reformat the books. Lots of fiction books are sold on Kindle yet there are occasions when people want a paperback copy … only you but is it worth all your time, trouble and money to change the cover for these? Can you maybe hold off making a final decision for a while longer?

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    1. Thanks, Annika. Yes, I’m in no particular rush, as I’ve gone this long without paperbacks, and no one has contacted me asking for the PB version, so….:) I’m giving all of this more thought.

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  4. I think it is different with children´s books but I sell about 50% print/50% ebooks on Amazon. But, I have a publisher so I don´t have to worry about formatting. I do think it is good to offer both as some people can´t read off an e-reader. Tough decision.

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    1. I did, and he had the same trouble with his cover. It took a lot of finicky cut and pasting for him to widen the spine, but another colleague might have a solution. I just need to try it out.

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  5. My books are available in both ebook and print from Amazon. I just checked my numbers. In 2019, print sales were 6% of total Amazon sales. In 2020 print sales were 11% of total Amazon sales. I use the same interior and cover files for both Amazon (KDP) and the local printer (Island Blue) where I purchase my author copies. Ingram requires a different cover-file format, but the cover designers generally do Ingram and Amazon (KDP) at the same time. So, for me, the Amazon (KDP) print is essential.

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  6. Here’s the rub: no one can see what someone is reading on a Kindle… There is some advertising benefit to being seen held in the hand in a public place….”That looks interesting…is it good?” I say open the door!

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