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Writer's Circle > Book Format Preference/Popularity

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message 1: by Jim (last edited Oct 06, 2016 06:47PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic The preliminary quarterly sales report for my one and only novel arrived today. The following is the year-to-date breakdown of sales by format. It covers a five-year period - Aug. 9, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2016.
Paperback - 47.4%
E-Book - 46.3%
Audio Book on CD - 3.5%
Audio Book Download - 2.8%

Is the above data consistent with that of book sales in general? What have other authors experienced regarding their specific sales? Is the popularity of certain formats standard throughout the industry or are certain format preferences more popular than others within specific genres? Readers, which format is your personal favorite?

Please share you personal experience and opinion.


message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 347 comments My sales are about 99% e-books, and 1% paperbacks. I have no other formats.

As a reader, I'm fine with either physical or e-books. I hate audio books :)


message 3: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) 80-90% of what I read is in audiobook. The rest is ebook. I rarely read a paper book unless I get one for Christmas.

As far as my sales go, right now the ratio is probably 50:50 ebooks and print. Which I think is unusual and doesn't include freebies. I only have one audiobook out right now, so can't really factor that in.


Jennifer (Sad Books Say So Much) | 23 comments 95% audiobooks, 5% text-to-speech if I must - but I always get the ebook so I can follow difficult passages and figure out pronunciation.


message 5: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Anton | 34 comments Jim wrote: "The preliminary quarterly sales report for my one and only novel arrived today. The following is the year-to-date breakdown of sales by format. It covers a five-year period - Aug 2011 through Sept 2016..."

My five historical novels published by Penguin have sold about 50/50 print and e-versions over the last five years, with less than 5% audio. My new short nonfiction effort - which contains lots of quotes, jokes, and cartoons - has been doing better in print than e-book. Due to the amount of visual content, it's not offered in audio.

Maggie Anton


message 6: by Wendy (last edited Oct 13, 2016 11:08AM) (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments What, no hardcover?
And no distinction between pocket and trade paperbacks?

For myself, my favorite books are hardcover, if available and I've got the money (sometime the difference between HC and PB is just too great.) I'd rather have a pocket (4x6" trim) than trade (5x8" and larger) paperback. To me, trade PB are the worst of both worlds: they don't have the small size of a pocket book or the sturdiness of a HC. (Which is a problem for an indie author because most PoD printers start at 5x8")

For ebooks, I prefer PDF--even on my Kindle. Again, this is a problem for me, because although there are PDF websites, they're more subscription libraries than "stores." I get ebooks either because they're offered free, significantly cheaper than hardcopy, or contain information I want to have but don't plan to access a lot.

I generally don't care for audiobooks. I read casually between 400-600 wpm, maybe up to 1000 wpm if I push it. People talk around 125 wpm. Even at triple speed, an audiobook is only 375 wpm. So I only listen to audiobooks if my hands are occupied with something relatively stationary and brainless--like weaving. (When knitting or crocheting I usually watch videos)

Grand totals?
about 20 audiobooks, mostly unheard
30-100 ebooks, depending on where you draw the line between "document" and "ebook"
1000-3000 physical books--I haven't tried to count them in years. Most of which do not exist in other formats.

Oh, and sales-wise, the only book that's really performing for me is a weaving book that runs 60-95% hardcopy, depending on season. My poetry chapbook sells hardcopy locally, but only ebook (if at all) outside my immediate area.


message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Wendy wrote: "What, no hardcover?
And no distinction between pocket and trade paperbacks?

For myself, my favorite books are hardcover, if available and I've got the money (sometime the difference between HC and..."


Wendy,

Providing an inventory of the books you actually own to demonstrate your personal format preferences has inspired me to do the same. Thank you for the idea. Some of my best ideas come from others.

Most of my reading material is borrowed from the local library; however, I will purchase a book if I am certain to wish to read it more than once. The following is the current inventory of books residing on the shelves in my den by-format.

Non-Fiction - 33 (25 hardcover, 7 paperback and 1 audio).
Fiction - 77 (15 hardcover, 54 paperback and 8 audio).

I do not read e-books; therefore, I own none.


message 8: by G. (new)

G. Thayer (flboffin) | 115 comments Wendy wrote: “What, no hardcover?
And no distinction between pocket and trade paperbacks?

For myself, my favorite books are hardcover, if available and I've got the money . . .”


Standard size trade paperbacks range all the way from 5" by 8" to 8.5" by 11" (letter size), but the two most popular sizes are 5.5" by 8.5" and 6" by 9." The latter size is becoming more predominant.

I have a Kindle Paperwhite, but I find the reading experience on it is not ideal. The free-flowing text that the Kindles (and other ebook readers) use makes it possible for books to display on many different devices with varying screen sizes and type sizes. But this introduces many formatting problems, some of which are very annoying to the reader (e.g., figure captions all by themselves on the page after the figure itself). I prefer a book that I can hold in my hand and that is well-formatted.

And I, too, prefer hardbound books to paperbacks. But they are harder to sell because of the price.


message 9: by Wendy (last edited Oct 14, 2016 10:50AM) (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments G. wrote: the two most popular sizes are 5.5" by 8.5" and 6" by 9." The latter size is becoming more predominant."

6x9" is standard hardcover size (for narrative-type works, anyway). Like I said, if I'm going to read a paperback, I'd just as soon have the smaller size of the 4x6" pocket book that Pocket Books pioneered. Format-wise, I love the 1950's/1960's mass-market paperbacks--you find a modern printing of some of those books and they're half-again as big. I've got this germ of a novel series idea, and I was so ready to lay it out like them, and then I checked CreateSpace's trim sizes--#%@#$!, they won't print that small. (and I have a hard time getting OpenOffice to give me decent line spacing. What it calls "single" space looks more like 1.5 spacing to me. Oh, how I miss the layout control of PageMaker.)


message 10: by Eric (new)

Eric Westfall (eawestfall) | 178 comments Wendy wrote: "G. wrote: the two most popular sizes are 5.5" by 8.5" and 6" by 9." The latter size is becoming more predominant."

6x9" is standard hardcover size (for narrative-type works, anyway). Like I said, ..."


Wendy,

I read somewhere...but have no idea where...that Word single-spacing is actually a bit larger, I guess in terms of space before/after. Which is what may create the 1.5 line impression for you.

But word also has a feature where you can set the height to "exactly." If memory serves, if you set it for 24 (12 pt. font x 2) the lines are closer. So if you're using 12-point, set it at exactly 12 and see what happens.

Just a thought.

Eric


message 11: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments Eric wrote: "But word also has a feature where you can set the height to'"exactly' ."

Like I said, I'm using OpenOffice. I tried every spacing option OpenOffice had, and only one let me have something less than what it called "single space." I do know that when I converted my poetry book from PageMaker to OpenOffice, I had to reduce the font size from 16pt to 14pt (or was it 13.1pt? I'm too lazy to wait for OpenOffice to open just so I can look it up) to get my poems to fit on the page the way they had in PageMaker.


message 12: by Eric (new)

Eric Westfall (eawestfall) | 178 comments Wendy wrote: "Eric wrote: "But word also has a feature where you can set the height to'"exactly' ."

Like I said, I'm using OpenOffice. I tried every spacing option OpenOffice had, and only one let me have somet..."


Sorry I missed the OpenOffice.

Ah well.


message 13: by G. (new)

G. Thayer (flboffin) | 115 comments Wendy wrote: “Like I said, I'm using OpenOffice. I tried every spacing option OpenOffice had, and only one let me have something less than what it called ‘single space.’ . . .”

Those are precisely some of the reasons I won’t consider OpenOffice. I “rent” Office 365 from Microsoft for the measly amount of $70 per year. For that you get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, and Access—7 apps. Publisher gives me complete formatting control, as good as PageMaker did or any other DTP app on the market now (do you really need to position things to better than one-thousandth of an inch?). Adobe charges me $13 a month to “rent” Acrobat DC Standard, and for that I only get the one app. But you need Acrobat to generate the PDFs for printers like CreateSpace. (I don’t trust the knock-offs.)


message 14: by G. (new)

G. Thayer (flboffin) | 115 comments Wendy wrote: “Format-wise, I love the 1950s/1960s mass-market paperbacks—you find a modern printing of some of those books and they’re half-again as big.”

You’re right. I had hardly noticed it, but mass-market paperbacks have nearly disappeared from the market. Now everything is put out in some trade paperback format. I have a novella I’m working on, and even with generous margins and 11-point type, it only comes to 118 pages in 5½- by 8½-inch format. I’d get a much better page count at 4- by 6-inch mass market paperback format. If I could just find it!


message 15: by Sally (new)

Sally (brasscastle) | 261 comments Eric wrote: "I read somewhere...but have no idea where...that Word single-spacing is actually a bit larger, I guess in terms of space before/after. Which is what may create the 1.5 line impression for you....."

The font you use, too, can have quite different single spacing from other fonts.


message 16: by G. (last edited Oct 16, 2016 02:56PM) (new)

G. Thayer (flboffin) | 115 comments Sally wrote: “Eric wrote: ‘I read somewhere . . . but have no idea where . . . that Word single-spacing is actually a bit larger, I guess in terms of space before/after. Which is what may create the 1.5 line impression . . .’ ”

Single-line spacing is actually 1.25 times larger than the point size of the font you’re using. So if you use 10-point type, the line spacing (called “leading” but rhymes with sledding) will be 12.5 points for standard single-spaced lines. That’s not enough if you are typing on standard letter-size paper. You need more like 14 or 15 points leading for lines that long. The standard leading would be OK if you are setting up a 4-inch by 6-inch mass-market paperback. It is all a matter of how easy (or hard) it is for the reader’s eye to move from one line to the next without losing track of where the next line is.

The standard leading was actually created for use in newspapers, which have columns about two inches wide. It’s called leading because in the old days, the typesetter had to insert a blank line of lead between lines to create the extra space needed.


message 17: by Charles (new)

Charles | 26 comments Jim wrote: "The preliminary quarterly sales report for my one and only novel arrived today. The following is the year-to-date breakdown of sales by format. It covers a five-year period - Aug. 9, 2011 through S..."

My sales are 20% paperback, 80% e-book. Interestingly, most of the paperback sales are to libraries.

For my personal preferences, I much prefer hardbounds, next a good quality paperback, and third Kindle e-book. I like audio books, but since I am no longer driving long distances, my listening time is mainly spent with jazz.


message 18: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments G. wrote: "Sally wrote: “Eric wrote: ‘I read somewhere . . . but have no idea where . . . that Word single-spacing is actually a bit larger, I guess in terms of space before/after. Which is what may create th..."

That would explain the difference between PageMaker and OpenOffice (if OpenOffice can be assumed to use the same leading rules as Word). PageMaker defaults to 1.20, and more than once, I've reduced that to get things to fit (I used to paste up a weekly newspaper--I was adjusting kerning and tracking and leading all the time).

OpenOffice offers single, double, proportional, at least, leading, and fixed options for spacing. The narrowest spacing I can get is "leading: 0 inches," which is about the same as you see in these comments here. And to my eye, this is more leading than needs to be there.


message 19: by G. (new)

G. Thayer (flboffin) | 115 comments Wendy wrote: “PageMaker defaults to 1.20”

My figure of 1.25 was a mistake; 1.20 is correct for single-spacing. Mark Hengesbaugh, in his book Typography for Desktop Publishers, gives these figures for different point sizes of type:

Point size / Leading / Maximum line length for single-line spacing:
10 / 12.0 pt / 3 and 1/3 inches
11 / 13.2 pt / 3 and 2/3 inches
12 / 14.4 pt / 4 inches

He goes on to say that for every inch of line length above the maximums given here, you should add one more point of leading. Thus, for a 6.5-inch line length (typical for a letter-size MS with one inch margins) and 11-point type, you should have leading of 16 points. Personally, I find that 15.5 points of leading does fine for 11-point type on 6.5-inch lines.

As you may have surmised by now, leading is actually the vertical space between lines of type, generally measured from baseline to baseline (the baseline is the vertical position of the bottoms of lower-case letters that do not have descenders).

Complicating these measurements, letters with round bottoms, such as c, e, o, extend slightly below the baseline, and using the top of upper-case letters to measure the distance between lines is complicated by typefaces that have ascenders (in letters such as d, b) that extend above the tops of upper-case letters. The baseline method is preferred, using letters such as f, h, i, m, and n, which have uniform baselines, especially in serif typefaces.

And the best advice of all is never to let the word processor dictate what the leading should be. Always set exact leading in points. If you do this in your type styles, your manuscript will have a nice uniform look throughout.

Wendy is right about the leading in the comments here. On my monitor the text corresponds to (roughly) 11-point Lucida Bright on 22-point leading. For the length of the lines on my monitor (about 9 inches), the leading should be about 18.5 points. So I agree with Wendy--this is more leading than needs to be there.


message 20: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments G. wrote: "Wendy wrote: “Format-wise, I love the 1950s/1960s mass-market paperbacks—you find a modern printing of some of those books and they’re half-again as big.”

You’re right. I had hardly noticed it, bu..."


Chalk it up to the PoD boom and idiot-friendly word processors. Like I said, PoD presses don't want to deal with anything smaller than 5x8" (they'll call it "custom," if they print it at all). And as you'll notice from some of the other comments bouncing back and forth on this thread, a lot of today's word processors use excessive leading that the user can't override.

(I remember I once had two hardcover books of the same title. One was a "first edition," the other a "book club" edition. Though they had the same trim sizes, the first's spine was half-again as wide as the book club's. The page counts were something like 247 vs 193; the margins weren't all that different, but there was a HUGE difference in lines per page. I think the difference was more leading than font size.)


message 21: by G. (last edited Oct 17, 2016 03:07PM) (new)

G. Thayer (flboffin) | 115 comments Wendy wrote: “a lot of today's word processors use excessive leading that the user can't override.”

That’s why I stick to high-end WPs, like Word. Actually, I do most of my writing in Publisher because I like the WYSIWYG nature of the DTP software. I can see how the printed book (or whatever) is going to look like as I type my MS. And Publisher has almost all of the features of Word--some of them improved versions--and I like its Styles settings better than Word’s. Yet I often export my text to Word just to get the word count (something that Publisher does not do).

As to the sizes, even most of the batch printers (not PoDs) won’t make mass-market books (4 by 6) anymore. I can’t imagine why they do not make the smaller sizes nowadays. What--nobody wants a book they can carry in their pocket or in a purse?


message 22: by Miss M (last edited Oct 17, 2016 06:05PM) (new)

Miss M | 84 comments Although probably not the entire MMP audience, I'm pretty sure the bulk of those buyers/readers were the early adapters and now strong supporters of e-book reading. The ultimate in portability, especially for genre readers who go through hundreds of books a year. Seems like the smartphone is the new MMP.


message 23: by Wendy (last edited Oct 19, 2016 10:27AM) (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments Miss M wrote: "Although probably not the entire MMP audience, I'm pretty sure the bulk of those buyers/readers were the early adapters and now strong supporters of e-book reading. The ultimate in portability, esp..."

I bought a tablet and got rid of it--didn't like how it handled books at all. I have my sister's old Kindle Keyboard--right now, I'm using a PDF book in it and it keeps freezing around page 116. With Kindle format, I'm back to the same issue of text--despite all the adjustment available--not being what I want. It manages to be too small to read comfortably and typographically takes up too much space (I'm "turning pages" all the time) at the same time. Despite most ereader screens being physically larger than the trim size of an MMP, they can't display as much text per page as MMPs. And the more you have to turn pages, the better your chances of getting frustrated because it didn't either turn the page when you clicked it, or it turned more than one page. I'll switch from clicking with the right-side buttons to clicking with the left-side buttons, to clicking on the page-turn arrows, and back to clicking with the buttons, all the while wishing it was an MMP instead.


message 24: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 84 comments Wendy wrote: "Miss M wrote: "Although probably not the entire MMP audience, I'm pretty sure the bulk of those buyers/readers were the early adapters and now strong supporters of e-book reading. The ultimate in p..."

Yes, I definitely agree with you on the small page/screen size for e-readers and the annoyance of frequent page turns! Luckily, I actually enjoy reading on a tablet - my Fire 8.9 is very lightweight and just the right size to read landscape, which gives me a 'two column' mode that feels like a 'normal' read with two pages open.
Can't get on with PDFs at all though and always try to avoid.


message 25: by Wendy (last edited Oct 19, 2016 02:08PM) (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments Aside from Mike Tyson's "Undisputed" (which I needed for a project and couldn't wait for a hard copy to ship), the only ebooks I've ever spent more than $2 for have been PDF's. I wish there was a PDF "bookstore" like Amazon and B&N maintain, but the only sites I've found have all used the Netflix-stype subscription model. With PDF's, you've got dozens of choices to read on, and easily print out hard copy of significant pages so you don't have to keep pawing through them. With Kindle, you're stuck with what Amazon thinks an ereader should be.

Thing is my Kindle Keyboard is actually pretty good as a PDF reader--visually, anyway. Like I said, it keeps "sticking" with this book I'm reading, and some fanfic I had loaded displayed with random words having weird, arbitrary font changes that were exclusive to Kindle's interpretation of the file.


message 26: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 84 comments Nothing wrong with personal preferences, : ), but I think you're pretty much in the minority when it comes to PDFs (except for tech documents)...can't imagine there's enough of an audience to make it more widely available as a format. Though I do see it offered occasionally on Kobo. AFAIK, epub was meant to be the universal format but with the Amazon predominance in the US that hasn't really worked out (plus, most stores superimposing their proprietary DRM.) I think there's LOTS of room for improvement in the Kindle format, esp. font sizing.


message 27: by Wendy (last edited Oct 20, 2016 12:04PM) (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments Chalk it up to being a TC (technical communications major). We spent a lot of time learning how to arrange things on a page: when to use bulleted lists, how to use different fonts when you want to indicate special meaning (sometimes bold and italic and even underlining just aren't enough), the difference between underlining text and lines between text (any why you'd choose which), using typographer's quotes or not, arranging photos and captions to make sense . . .
All that gets thrown out the window to make an epub or mobi edition. I can't even show you the difference here because the formatting for these comments is just as--if not more--restricted than basic ebook formatting.


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