Ron Abler submitted this call for advice on how to go about publishing his book on Centennial medals of the U.S. Hardcopy? CD/DVD? Web site? e-book? Print-on-demand? Our readers have experience with all of these formats both as authors and readers. Your thoughts and suggestions are welcomed.
I am enjoying the conversation about paper vs. electronic books, especially because my book on Centennial medals is facing a critical go/no-go milestone: will it be paper or electronic? The mainstream numismatic paper publishers have already informed me some time ago, politely but firmly, that they cannot afford to publish such a large book, all in color, that will cater to such a small predicted segment of the numismatic collecting frarority (there are female collectors, too), but they acknowledged the need for such a book and wished me "great success in my worthy endeavor."
It was Dave Schenkman who first suggested that I put my book online. His rationale, aptly illustrated with his own authoring experiences, was compelling. As a result, though the book is not yet ready for public prime time, I have developed a stand-alone website that presents the book, chapter by chapter, in pdf format, which allows full word search, enlargement of photos to full-screen size, printing, and downloading at no cost to readers.
Since I would not expect to make a profit on a self-published paper book, I can actually save money by giving the book away, and I see many other advantages, among which are:
There is very little up-front cost (about $31) to be fully "published."
The maintenance costs are very low (about $7 per month).
Volunteer editors and proofreaders can easily access the book when it first goes online only to selected persons.
We can correct errors and omissions as they are discovered, even after going "public," without having to wait who knows how long before a subsequent paper edition might be justified.
I can Immediately add previously unknown medals (at least to me) as they are brought to my attention by fellow collectors. (I hope there are many!)
I can include a forum feature that will facilitate discussion and collaboration among fellow collectors.
The zero cost to readers and open collaboration among fellow collectors should result in greater "distribution" than would trying to flog a $200+ paper book.
I would appreciate any and all comments, suggestions, and criticisms before I take the irreversible step of actually going public.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
MORE ON ELECTRONIC BOOKS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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