You have just completed the manuscript for your book. You are ready to publish and, after reviewing your options, you have decided that you will publish in e-book version only. After all, e-books are the wave of the future, especially among younger readers who have grown up online.
Before you go ahead you should check out the Washington Post’s recent report that “wired millennials still prefer the printed word.” Despite the explosive growth of e-books and readers over the last decade, the Post reported that, “Textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer print for pleasure and learning…”
Citing the work of Naomi Baron, a linguist at American University in Washington D.C. and author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, the Post concluded that, ““Paper books maintain [a] powerful hold on [the] digital generation.”
Baron’s research found that, “Readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers.” Reading on screens invites multitasking. While 1% of college students said they multitasked while reading a print book, 90% indicated that they were likely to do so when reading on screen.
“I don’t absorb as much,” one student told Baron. Another said, “It’s harder to keep your place online.”
Baron’s finding help explain why Marlene England, owner of the Curious Iguana bookstore in Frederick, Maryland told the Post that “millennials regularly tell her they prefer print because it’s ‘easier to follow,’”
That preference is reflected in the Pew Center’s finding that the highest print readership rates are among those 18 to 29.
So, if you are planning to self-publish a book you’ll want to explore your choice of format carefully. Reading preferences often vary with the nature of the content. Genre fiction has done quite well as e-books. Nonfiction has done less well.
Before you publish, consider what format is most likely to appeal to your target readers, and recognize that publishing in both electronic and print formats may help you access the largest number of potential readers.