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The E-Book: A Dead Issue or a New Direction in Publishing?

By Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Some e-books are selling well while many e-books are not selling at all. This sounds like the print publishing scene, doesn't it?

We all know that the success of a printed book depends not only on the talent of the writer, but equally on the quality of the marketing. Strangely enough, the success of an e-book also depends on the talent of the writer and the quality of the marketing.

Because the electronic e-book is a new form of publishing, to attain success an e-book must attract a receptive group of potential buyers within the target market. A narrow, well-defined group thirsting for knowledge is the perfect e-book target market. That is, e-books on how to market on the Internet are selling well at $100 or so per book. Inexpensive e-books on quilting are selling well. Many small, targeted e-book publishers are demonstrating that the small independent e-book publisher will do best by selling important information in his nonfiction e-books.

What types of e-books don't sell well? Novels as e-books generally sell at a much slower rate than nonfiction. However, even novels can sell when chosen properly and marketed correctly. In particular, Peanut Press at claims to have sold hundreds of thousands of e-books formatted for the Palm Pilot.

How can Peanut Press sell so many e-books where others fail? Here are a few of their clever marketing ploys:

  • Provide a free reader which installs on any Palm Pilot so that buyers can read anywhere.
  • Choose well-known authors and books.
  • Send out an e-newsletter with new book announcements.
  • Keep prices reasonable.
  • Set up cooperative advertising agreements with appropriate Web sites.

I am not necessarily recommending Peanut Press to authors searching for the best e-book publisher. Rather, I want to make it clear that there are success stories in e-book publishing. Those successes are built on excellent books, plus outstanding marketing aimed at one specific portion of the reading market.

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Designer and Online Marketing Consultant., or



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