Nick - I absolutely agree with the credibility a book can lend to one's business. It certainly increases marketability. Why do you think the model is broken? In the fitness field (hobby) I have seen a lot of trainers adopt the e-book approach and while it does increase revenue a bit, I have also noted complaints from buyer
Interesting. It may be worth a post to outline the e-book complaints. It could provide the basis for to-do and don't-dare-do tips. This could be helpful, especially since the e-book market, now estimated to be in the mid-single digit millions, is growing at a double-digit rate. I've been researching e-books extensively, and think that the market is a year from taking off, for a variety of reasons. But take off it will, I'm convinced.
I have to caveat that I can only speak to the Fitness category of books, and it is strictly anecdotal. I doubt it really applies to the totality of e-books, so please apply at least 1lb of salt. I'd like to hear others' thoughts on the subject.
While I detoured as the manager for a gym's personal training staff, I used to surf the web for every lesson ever published or spoken by all the top fitness trainers, docs, and scientists to keep up with the industry's edge. I have purchased some "self-published" books myself, and have watched these "books" become staples of the industry, especially for up-and-coming trainers. The majority of these are really just 3-ring binders with work-put plans, some anecdotes, basic science validating the principles theories used, and a couple exercise pictures. Others are truly the downloadable e-book.
Benefits of the former have been the ease with which an aspiring trainer can create and ship his product to any number of buyers. Even better is that it's a simple run to Kinko's or Staples to get it done on short notice if you run out. These are easily carried with the buyer to the gym, to school, anywhere really. (And you can highlight with ease!) Lodged complaints include grumbling about the low quality and graininess of pictures, the relative purchase price-to-quality of binding, and the absence of enjoyment that comes from reading a notebook.
The latter e-book is great for aspiring trainers in that is allows for even less publishing cost than the 3-ring binder. For the reader, the pictures are usually better (it is digital after all), you have the instant gratification of downloading - as opposed to waiting for the UPS (wo)man, and you get to scroll through and save to your desktop. However, you can't take it anywhere and a lot of folks dislike the lack of paper. Sure, you can print it yourself, but a number of complaints have come in that the aesthetic of a book carries a lot of weight. I agree wholeheartedly. Also, without getting backed by a publishing house or the like, the only buyers of an e-book will be those who visit the writer's website, so the author's ability to get known via said book is limited when compared to a traditionally published writer. How many people looking to get fit really know to look for your
book? Not many. Instead, they toddle off to the gym for a membership and 3 week training session, buy P90X at 230 in the AM, or visit the local bookstores and peruse "Fitness". Jillian Michaels wins the day. Noting these issues, a number of trainers and researchers have taken to a new model: Build a website, publish articles in magazines or e-zines leading back to the site, put an e-book or notebook on the site for purchase, and be sure to publicly log the positive feedback thereof. Once a large enough following is established, contact a publisher and have them put your revamped book in the book stores next to Jillian's six-pack.
Again, I doubt the above can apply to all e-books, but I highlight the complaints revolving around the preference to thumb through a traditional book. Because Fitness is really about information and not wordcraft or story, the medium theoretically shouldn't matter. Apparently it does. There is something in the appeal of the new-book scent, the ability to fold down pages, the convenience of carrying it in your pack, and simply reading without backlighting, that people enjoy and prefer. A few buyers even sent back their copies and asked the writer to publish a "real" book.