Should Bloggers Repackage Content to Sell as Ebooks?
Presentation matters. A novel has perceived value, while a PDF does not. To extend the lesson to bloggers — the same content your readers enjoy for free online can suddenly earn its keep as a paid product, if presented in the right way.
Some news organizations have done this successfully, but it is still an untapped market.
Selling ebooks, even as Print On Demand (POD), in which you don’t pay for copies of your book to be printed until they are sold, can provide an additional source of revenue for a writer with minimal effort — simply select a few great articles, edit them together, write an introduction and conclusion and perhaps hire a designer to create a cover.
But Dan Pacheco, who runs a startup called BookBrewer, cautions that the big win will go to writers who have an already existing audience and content.
“Ebooks are good for any blogger with a significantly large audience in the tens of thousands of unique visitors who engage regularly with the blog [through posting comments and sharing articles],” he says. “And of course you need a good collection of content in your archives that can also be stitched together into a narrative.”
Pacheco’s clients include news organizations, such as The Denver Post, which have both the content and audience required to make ebooks worth the time. With the Denver Bronco’s season still underway last year, Pacheco put up a URL so people could pre-order a book about Tim Tebow and the Broncos while Post editors put together the story in a great print layout. Most sales came from the POD book, so the Post needed to put no money down and generated a profit (in the high thousands) from the beginning.
Pacheco notes that having a book simply available through Amazon.com does nothing to drive sales. In fact, he says if you’re able to convince Amazon to do promotions, it will take a larger cut than the standard 30 percent.
For news organization clients, Pacheco sees most sales come directly from the newspaper’s website (and he’s gone so far as to arrange delivery of POD titles directly from the printer to the customer).
Lewis DVorkin, chief product officer at Forbes Media, notes that the Forbes blogging platform enables writers to translate their content and expertise into ebooks.
DVorkin himself will be publishing an ebook of his archived Forbes content through Hyperink, a service that actually offers insight into engagement levels and keywords to assist writers in deciding which posts to use.
For some Forbes writers, the blog was an effective research tool to see what topics readers were most interested in and allow that knowledge to shape reporting. This back-and-forth with the audience is what can hedge a writer against wasting time developing an ebook.
Ebooks are a huge opportunity. Platforms such as Amazon’s store and Hyperink’s service can streamline the process but not without cutting into the potential profits. Creating an ebook from past writings won’t likely make a person rich enough to never work again, but it can bring value to your personal brand and link your name with your ideas.