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Ebook Vs Paper Book: What's the better publishing platform?
Just from experience as a reader...
I would say that publishing in a paper book format is probably preferable. This is the standard, has been for a few centuries now, and will probably remain so for a good long time. I seriously doubt whether they'll be replaced by ebooks any time soon.
The reason for this are fairly simple: ebooks aren't widely available, and tend to be limited to one type of reader. ebook formats often aren't compatible with other reader hardware, causing the prospective buyer to stick with their own marketplace and venture outside only for free ebooks.
Some Other Considerations...
The text you type will probably be in some kind of word processor or text editor. As such, it doesn't really matter if you publish in either format. You can always bring it to the other one easily.
ebooks are fairly difficult to come by (see second link) - and are not really being reviewed very often. If you write a paper book, the chances are good that you'll get some free publicity by someone who just picks it up (word of mouth, or perhaps a blog page). I'm not seeing this happen very often with ebooks yet.
Another path, perhaps?
When Cory Doctorow started publishing, he released paper books. Because he was relatively unknown, his publisher granted him permission to release his books freely online under the creative commons license.
The first books were published under a fairly restrictive license, allowing only for their reproduction (in different formats, of course). In the meantime, he has released his works under the most liberal of the licenses, requiring only attribution (ie. the work was created by him). This has allowed some amazing things to happen - fan fiction abounds, and Cory's name is now relatively well known among his target audience. His paper books have also been selling rather well.
And he's not the only author to have done so. Rudy Rucker, a rather well-known science fiction author, recently released his latest book free of charge for download (see links).
Short video describing Creative Commons
Interview with Lawrence Lessig (creator of Creative Commons)
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this path?
If you decide to follow this path, be aware that you're essentially giving your book away for free; however, you can always define in the license that it cannot be used for any commercial purposes (for example, simply re-published). Therefore, the major disadvantage is that you lose control of your work.
The advantages are enormous:
- Your readers will get a taste of your work, and might buy the book. They'll also consider purchasing your next book.
- Publicity is easy to come by. There's a huge community for this type of book, and if your audience likes it, they'll be promoting it for you. Fan fiction is not to be scoffed at, as it can provide you with more ideas, more paths, and a larger reader base.
- Your work is still licensed, and is always attributed to you. That means if another author decides to write in your "world", they will need to include your name
- Sometimes losing control of your work isn't such a bad thing. After all, it's organic in nature anyhow - let it grow.
Whatever your path...
I wish you the best of luck! My only advice to you would be to pick a path and stick to it. There are great rewards at the end of each, but I personally lean towards releasing at least some content under the Creative Commons in order to get a reader base.