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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Book, eBook, Audiobook?

12 March 2020

I posted a video the other day. I post videos most days.

One of the comments on this video however, asked whether I'd be having another go at publishing my autobiography.

I'm pretty sure most regular Aardvark readers will recall that I did write a book about my experiences in building the world's first DIY cruise missile and the fallout that this project produced back at the turn of the century. Unfortunately, at the time, publishers weren't that keen to get onboard with publishing the book, perhaps for fear of the same kind of negative response from the US government that I got.

I did look at simply releasing it as an e-book and handling all the logistics myself but part of the censure for being so bold as to suggest and prove the obvious was the fiscal restrictions that were used as punishment for my crime. There'd have been no point in publishing the book if all its revenues were to be hijacked by the government of the day.

Well things have changed a lot now. Just a couple of decades after I issued a warning, the same governments that dealth with me so harshly are themselves crying out about the very same risk.

I guess there's always a price to pay for being two decades ahead of the bureaucrats and politicians eh?

However, at the prompting of many of my YT subscribers, I figure I'll finally release the book -- but this creates another problem.

Back when I originally wrote the book, paper and early forms of e-books were really the only publishing options and paper was definitely the preferred medium.

Today however, we're spoilt for choice when it comes to formats and mediums on which to release a book.

I was kind of surprised that around half of those who said they'd like to buy a copy of my book requested that it be in audio-book form.

Wow... that's a thing now!

Time was when only the blind wanted audio-books but now it seems that the proliferation of smartphones and commute-time means that lots of folk want to enjoy a book whilst on the move or simply can't be bothered scanning the written word to assimilate such prose.

The next most popular request was to buy as an e-book. Again, being able to download it onto your phone, tablet or dedicated e-reader seems to be very popular.

Right at the bottom of the list was ink and paper.

My how times have changed!

So now I have to investigate all the options and the best methods of fulfilling the needs of the market.

Do I read my own book (with a voice they said was perfect for print when I applied for a job as a radio announcer way back in the 1970s)? Do I hire a voice-actor to read it? Do I outsource the task to a professional audio-book publisher?

As far as e-books go,do I go through the process of using an existing DRMed e-book format in an attempt (likely in vain) to prevent piracy? Or do I simply make it a PDF or some other unrestricted e-book format?

For those wanting hardcopy, do use a publish on demand service ($$), do I invest a bit of coin (or crowdfund) and get a few thousand copies printed myself or do I hunt out an established publisher with the appropriate distribution resources?

Do I put a fixed cost on each copy sold... or do I simply release it to the market as freeware and request a donation based on what the reader thinks it is worth?

Plenty of people have said they'd be happy to pay US$10 to US$40 a copy (depending on delivery format) so obviously there is a demand and there is some money to be made from this.

I'd love some feedback from readers, especially if you've had experience yourself.

I do know that my e-book "The Pulsejet Engine" earned me a goodly income (totalling around $60,000) while I was selling it over a period of about 10 years. Downloads of the PDF were the main seller but a surprising number of folk also bought it on CDR. The costs/time associated with fulfilment however, is something I can ill-afford at present so I'd really rather farm this out if I went the same way with the autobiography.

To the comments with you. Enlighten me with your thoughts, perspectives and experiences!

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