Digital publishing?

Is print still the best way to publish? I’m starting to wonder. The basement is full of books already, so to grow my business I need to either buy some warehousing, or change how I think about the product I sell.

I can get terrific markup on black and white printing, but to go color is more expensive, therefore larger print runs are necessary to reduce the cost per copy. Then I need increased distribution to move those booklets out the door. Digital books are selling for just a few dollars per download, which sounds like pure profit (no printing costs, etc) but really, the printing isn’t the problem. It’s the profit margin, which gets split in half at every step of the sales chain. To make money off ebooks, you need to sell a lot.

Can I price an ebook to earn as much profit as I earn when I wholesale a paper book?

Question: Do you, or would you, buy digital-only knitting pattern collections? And if so (if I may be blunt) how much would you pay? Consider a booklet collection with a dozen patterns.

(I hear the buzz. Do you have a dozen new patterns you’ve been holding out on us? I’m working on it. Hesh up.)

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9 Responses to Digital publishing?

  1. Carolyn says:

    I wouldn’t buy digital-only knitting pattern collections, but I’m somewhat of a dinosaur and only got a Kindle because it can read to me while I knit. However – profit margin and digital is something I know a wee bit about. is an on-demand publisher, and I think if you used them you’d get a good bit more than half the retail of an e-book. I’ve been using them since 2005, and though there are some annoyances, I’ve not found anything better.

    Love the Red Sweater!

  2. moiraeknittoo says:

    I’d say 80% of my knitting pattern purchases are now digital. I just don’t have the space for many more printed things, and I like having a backup of the virtual items, as well as control over how or when I may print anything from my purchase. I’ve paid anywhere from $9.99 – 34.99 for pattern collections delivered online. The ease and instant delivery please me greatly.

  3. Carol Ozimek says:

    I like hardcover knitting books. I keep them on my coffee table to browse through and change them every month. Some of these books are classics ( and now worth alot of money!) and some are outdated, but can still give me inspiration. I have a collection of my aunt’s old books and patterns from the 60’s which I still enjoy looking at and my knitting friends enjoy looking through these books when they come to visit. I love the colors and photos which you don’t get with a digital printout.

  4. Anne says:

    I buy digital patterns all the time. Make sure you can take paypal. Last person I bought from had messages come to her blackberry and she sent it immediately with a couple really nice messages back and forth after. Seemed more personal to me.

  5. Sara says:

    I recently got a Kindle and love it, so I’m not opposed to eBooks, but for knitting, I want a hard copy that I can put on my lap while I knit. I buy single patterns digitally all the time, but for entire books of patterns, I want the physical book to put on my shelf and hold in my hands.

    BTW, I LOVE Selbuvotter and I’m very excited to see Norwegian Knitting Designs! I’ll be ordering a copy soon.

  6. Elka Minor says:

    as long as I have a printer hooked up to my computer I do not mind the digital. I think via Ravelry is probably the way to go though because I fear what would happen should my computer crash. Actually now I fear what will happen should Ravelry go away. The first pattern I ever purchased a pdf of was Rogue and a couple of computers later, a different email address, and various other things means I no longer own the pattern nor have I actually ever knit the sweater. I kinda wish I had a hardcopy of it in my file folders which, if not for the moves and email changes, I could have where as with some paper things I have destashed over the years cannot be said.

    FWIW this is something I also am thinking about lately. I purchased a book, available as an ebook and as a print version, from amazon about the new face of knitting design biz. Yes I got the hardcopy version. Just something about paper for books.

  7. Donna says:

    I too buy mostly PDF downloads now; I’ve been focusing on single patterns recently because I bought so few of them for so long, but I do have a few books on my list that are PDF only or PDF with the book added on as an extra cost. For me, it’s the price to value ratio: if I can convince myself that there are enough patterns in the book I’ll make that the per-pattern cost equals what I’d pay for a single pattern, ($4-5) it goes on the list to buy. So, an overall cost of more than $20, and I’d really have to love what’s in the book! For what it’s worth, I have also been sorely tempted by mini-collections from designers; i.e. buy the whole set of 12 for $20, or any one of these sets of 3 for $7. I think that’s a clever way to upsell without being hamhanded about it, because a lot of knitters are going to convince themselves that the whole book is a slightly better value. And for knitters like me with an enormous library already, it’s a nice way to add just what I want and no more.

  8. CathiBea says:

    I buy both hard copy and digital. I likke the digital because I can print out at a size that is easy to read. If you were to sell large print hard copies there would be room for fewer patterns and tweaking techniques.
    The pricing that I like runs not complicated $4-6.00, complicated $6-9.00. Really complex with lots of notes & handholding up to $14.
    I hope this helps

  9. Alison says:

    I bought two copies of your Selbu mittens book (one for a friend). I have bought perhaps dozens of e-patterns, but never an e-book. I’d be far more likely to buy one that was a collection of similar things (all mittens, or all hats like from woollywormhead). What I wouldn’t buy is a collection of 4 patterns, 3 of which all use the same pattern on different garments such as beret, scarf, and sweater. It’s nice to get a little pricebreak, such as a collection for 10-15% lower than the cost of the patterns sold individually. $5 per pattern is perfectly fine.

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