In my business, the question keeps coming up: “Will paper books go away?” My answer has been pretty consistent for the past year. I think that eBooks will, over the course of the next 5 years, mostly replace trade paperbacks, although there will still be some produced and sold at conventions and book-signings and such. For the average reader who is just interested in the joy of reading, it’ll be eBooks. However, hardbacks are another story. I have every confidence that hardbacks will become a specialty item that are always produced. Cost wil go up, but there’s something about the feeling of a hardback book that is like nothing else.
What I’m saying is that if you have a fiction or non-fiction book that you haven’t converted to an eBook, then you need to get it done ASAP. eBooks are fast-becoming the biggest book market in the world, and if you’re not it it soon, you could miss out on sales. Don’t leave money on the table.
I’ll be the first to tell you that there are plenty of on-line services (like Amazon and Smashwords) that allow you to take your manuscript and upload it. You get an output eBook file that can be sold on their websites. However, the output is always dicey, particularly if you don’t know how to format manuscripts beforehand, and the truth is that you don’t get a copy of your eBook to sell you your own site.
For the one-time author, using the automated processes is good enough, usually. However, if you’re in the business of selling books, then you don’t want to trust these systems, and you definitely want to have access to your own MOBI and EPUB files as well as the origination files and source projects.