Ebooks vs Printed Books – 5 Things to Consider

Seeing our customers’ creative work is a really fun part of working with a creative platform. New books are always floating around our office, delighting us with their originality and craftsmanship. As we roll out our new fixed-layout ebook file formats, we are excited to see what comes of the possibilities.

Ebooks have really shaken up the publishing industry. People feared they would overtake print books the way digital music did to CDs and records, but sales numbers and studies proved instead that ebooks and print books coexist quite happily on the market. It turns out, people love both the tactile experience of hard copies and the weightless speed and freedom of e-readers.

Better yet, ebooks offer new opportunities to writers and creators that weren’t available with traditional publishing. Both formats are here to stay, and they aren’t enemies. In fact, they can work together. At Blurb, we love how both print and digital offer unique ways to showcase of your content.

But what do you choose? How can you make the most of your format options? Consider your content and ask yourself:

1. What is my material?

Is your work personal or professional? Primarily images or mainly text? Multi-media or static? Each format has its benefits. If your work is a personal photo book, the delight of the project is having something to hold in your hands and knowing there is an artifact for your memories. If your want to enhance your static content with web links, an ebook is a great fit.

2. Who will view my work?

Do you have a blog or an online following for your creative work? An ebook gives you the chance to expand your expert content beyond what an article or a blog post allows, while still being universally available. Are you collecting photos to print so that even your youngest family members can enjoy them? Pages (which can be reprinted) are more durable than screens. Ebooks also work for family projects: Think about how fun it is to flip through a photo album on social media for faraway friends and family—that is, until someone who doesn’t use social media can’t log in. Ebooks are “free” to ship and have all the digital immediacy and ease without the required login.

3. What is my ideal cost?

Print-on-demand makes hard copies more accessible than they used to be when most things required offset printing. However, the elaborate nature of your project might still make multiple copies cost-prohibitive. Now that EPUB3 files are friendlier to horizontal layouts, fonts, and images, there is plenty of creative freedom that comes with the lower conversion cost. With print books, the price is set by the cost of printing. With ebooks, you set the price in accordance with how and where you plan to distribute it.

4. How wide is my distribution?

How many copies of the project do you need? Is it a personal book where a few for family and friends will do? That’s a great time to go all out with gorgeous printing. Are you trying out new content with a wider audience? Even though print-on-demand frees you from having to offload hundreds of copies as best you can, the price per book can hinder profit and wider reach. Trying to build a following? Ebooks can help pave the way for a printed version by creating a market for your content.

5. What kind of experience do I want with my work?

If you want to include multimedia elements, ebooks are the way to go. If you want a large spread that fills a 12×12 page, or want to carry your content far from a power source, printed pages make that possible. If your content is vibrant or intricate, it might render better on photo paper than it would on a screen. Your work and your effort deserve the best possible display.

Print books and ebooks together have so much potential for getting great work into the world. Digital media pushes the boundaries on what we thought possible for communicating ideas and art, while the pleasures of print are everlasting. With two great options to choose from, we can’t wait to see how you put them to work.


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