eBooks vs. Physical Books

by 20 comments
A 150 page manual-type book with a color cover can cost as low as 7 bucks to print and bind. You could probably get it cheaper if you buy in large enough volume. The printing, binding and shipping can all be done by an order fulfillment center for another couple bucks per product, again cheaper in large volume. So, you're looking at about 9 bucks per product…

In a very small test, I noticed that you can double your price that you were getting for your eBook without sacrificing sales of the physical book. Surprising. Specifically, the eBook sold for $27 and the physical book sold for $59.95 with the same conversion rate.

So, I ask you…

Has anyone converted their eBook to a physical book for selling purposes? And could you share your results?

It would be nice to get some feedback in terms of impact on:

- Conversion rates
- Refund rates
- Back end profits (no easy links to click)
- Less theft = more sales (hard to post physical books to fileshare sites)
#internet marketing #books #ebooks #physical #selling
  • Profile picture of the author jhongren
    Hi Michael, personally I have not done that yet. Maybe you can contact Stanely Tang... =) He is planning to do a physical book.

    I am sure other Warriors will be able to help.

  • Profile picture of the author travelbizcash
    I haven't done that but I am sure others here can answer your ques.

    My only input is that I have noticed that physical books
    like the autobiography of Sarah Palin started out selling for
    $55 last week than suddenly jumped to $79 on Amazon.

    Point being physical books do sell dependent of course
    on content and marketing.
    • Profile picture of the author Andy Money
      What about the options of going through Lulu.com or similar sites? It'd probably be easier because you'd never need inventory. They even do distribution packages.
  • Profile picture of the author jasonl70
    michael - I've been wondering this myself.. I use to have training manuals printed and bound for seminars (when I worked in IT), and it was fairly cheap and easy to have done at any print shop. And discs are really cheap to have made..
    • Profile picture of the author Mr. Orange
      Wow, I didn't know that you could get fulfillment that inexpensive. I am currently working on a web 2.0 product. i think that I will do a physical product as an upsell and share my results here.
    • Profile picture of the author Takuya Hikichi
      I remember when an ebook first came out, some said that it's cheaper because there would be no printing cost and within a year those things skyrocketed to $97 and thinking, "Man, I've never paid any more than $30 for physical, well researched book". Soon realized that I was not buying the cost of production, but information. But good to see more physical stuff coming out from fellow IMers.

      But I hear your return rate reduces when you do this. I have a buddy in MLM niche I co-built lists with and all he does is do Camtasia videos, have someone transcribe the recording and he adds with screen captured shots from the video. The videos eventually become CD-Rom and the screen shots and the voice recording become his printed manual...

      All of the sudden, the stuff he took only "ONE hour" to do becomes $97 product, and the fulfillment center shipps 2 CDs and 1 manual using UPS.

      If he's done it in digital physical, he probably only would have charged $47. I tell him to keep it at $97 so his 50% affiliate payouts stay $48.
  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ellis
    Getting some great responses, and tips - which I will follow up on.

    Like I said, my test was small, so although it looks promising to me, I don't know if it will hold up in other tests.

    Another area that I'm not quite sure how to handle with physical products is in dealing with affiliates. Will it scare them away? Will it make for too much work?

    Look forward to more responses.

    Thanks All!
  • Profile picture of the author garyv
    Actually - this could be a good thing for ebay marketers to think about as well. I know I'm putting most of my products on CD to sell on ebay. But if it was in an actual physical book format, it would open up more sections of ebay that you could sell in.
  • Profile picture of the author Richard Tunnah
    Hi Michael,
    I know of a successful Uk marketeer that tested the physical over non physical recently. He sold a four 1 hour video set. The online streaming/download point was $197 that his customers said they'd pay. However packaged into a 'real' physical package of 4 DVD set they happily paid $597 for the package. Of course he had additional costs for the physical product but I believe production, packaging and postage was no more than $20 a go. I think many people still like the 'feel' of a product.

  • Profile picture of the author talewins
    Hey yawl.. I've done both for years now. Ebooks were tops in profit five years ago.. Now the battle is sliding the other way. The best prices from a legitimate provider is found on the web at
    https://www.createspace.com/ They not only have their own marketplace (in addition to yours, if you like) but are also affiliated with Amazon.com They give a free ISBN number, no setup fees and I don't know what all. I am still looking for the catch. Anybody else finds it, please let me know.
  • Profile picture of the author BeachCruzer
    Greetings Michael:

    I've actually have done this many times because I feel you should offer every opportunity to make a sale, even if that lowers your profit margin. But here some other reasons:

    - Not everyone has a printer so they may be interested in hard copy book.

    - If you have a large eBook with more than 60 pages, this is sure to drain a buyer's ink cartridge and that can be expensive and inconvenient.

    - On one site, I charged extra for the hard copy but it included "free shipping."

    - On another site, I charged the same amount but added $5.95 for shipping.

    Since both books where under 16 ounces I paid about $2.00 for postage and $7.00 for each book.

    Sure, you sacrifice some profit but you're probably making a sale you would not otherwise secure. In addition, your offer will appear more "legit" because you're capable of sending a physical product. It adds even more credibility when you add the USPS or UPS logos (depending on your shipping method) next to the book image.

    Regarding the printing, I've always used Office Depot. I signed up for their rewards program so I was able to get 15% cash back which I would use towards printing more books at a lower price. The book consisted of two cover stock and a black tape binding to keep it simple.

    One last thing... if you had a graphic artist create your ebook cover, be sure to add a disclaimer telling the buyer that the cover of the book may be different than the one displayed on the website.

    Okay, here's other thing (I promise), you may be able to lower your costs by finding a marketing partner that offers compatible products to the same audience and include their flyer in each shipment. Not only does this reduce your expenses but it creates additional excitement for the recipient while promoting your marketing partner.

    Hope this helps and best of luck--

    Michael Cruz

    PS: Regarding returns, they are nominal. Mine were less than .5%
  • Profile picture of the author Loren Woirhaye
    While computer savvy people may prefer ebooks I
    feel that the majority of the literate population prefers
    real books. You have to look at the people in your
    market to determine how to give the greatest value
    and win long-term customers.

    Notice I say "give the greatest value" not "get the
    highest price". it all depends on your market of course.
    When you do the work to win a long-term customer
    you will have opportunities to sell him or her related
    information in a variety of formats. Gordon Burgett
    is the guy to read about this subject... and he's clearly
    making a bigger profit on his ebooks than on his bound
    books... but he's not selling at these ridiculous $50 and
    $100 price points that are often just "make money"
    sucker bait.
    • Profile picture of the author Joel
      A few comments:

      1. I just published a 132 page 8 1/2"x11" book on LuLu. My cost is $7.19 per copy plus shipping.
      2. Part of the decision on electronic versus hard copy is, who is the intended audience?
      3. Mine is a business book geared mainly to offline businesses. Since they can order online, access & distribution is not a concern of mine.
      4. For me, a hard copy book, is added credibility for me to use locally in getting add-on consulting business.
      5. Also, with many blackhat & online document upload sites, you may not be able to protect your product from being distributed for free, to anyone.

      Just a few things to consider.
  • Profile picture of the author spanisheye
    Interesting topic. I have this dilema at the moment as we are releasing a new product soon. In my niche my users are average age 50 and I think they expect a physical product. I think people can feel a little cheated sometimes with ebooks as the content is often crap in so many.
  • Profile picture of the author BeachCruzer
    Hey SpanishEye:

    If you are marketing virtually anything to anyone averaging 50, hard copies are a must. I am not discouraging you to offer an eBook but this demographic tends (not an absolute) to prefer a tangible product. By offering both, you increase opportunities of capturing a sale from someone who would not otherwise.

    Best of luck--


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