The Staying Power of the eBook

If you want to establish true industry expertise and build deeper relationships with your customers, eBooks are a critical piece of the puzzle. But why?

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Why are eBooks such a staple of modern content marketing? What need do they fill that isn’t covered by web sites, blogs, and other vehicles that make more dynamic use of the digital landscape in which they exist? After all, an eBook is just a book made digital in the most basic way. Well, that’s the point.

eBooks have a very tangible, very unobstructed claim to their heritage. A heritage that wields a unique degree of credibility, because we’ve always trusted books. Right or wrong, there is a presumption that if someone goes to the trouble to publish their words and ideas in printed form, those words and ideas will withstand greater scrutiny than what Steve has to say around the water cooler.

“Well hurray for their heritage!” you cry. “But eBooks aren’t actually printed.” And you’re right. They’re not printed – but they are downloaded. As subtle a distinction as this may seem, it is important, because it gives eBooks a more substantial tether to their printed ancestors. Formats like websites and blogs live entirely on the internet, and the internet is a frivolous, uninformed, impermanent place.

“Nearly all of us find a reason to discredit the information we read online.”

-Harris Interactive

In fact, 98% of people distrust the internet, according to a study performed by Market Researchers Harris Interactive. As they put it, “Nearly all of us find a reason to discredit the information we read online.”

But let’s just put aside the fact that the internet is telling you not to trust the internet right now. The point is when you commit to a format that can be possessed by a user – a format in which the content is locked – you recapture some of the accountability lost in the transition from print to digital. Or, as best-selling author Rachel A. Olsen puts it, “It adds a level of credibility and seriousness to what you are providing and makes you stand out in your field as an expert.”

“[The eBook] adds a level of credibility and seriousness to what you are providing.”

-Rachel A. Olsen

Finally, all of this should shed some light on why we’ve seen so little of the eBook’s so-called “digital potential” realized. eBooks are capable of a tremendous degree of interactivity, and they can easily integrate audio and video. Mashable said “Publishers are already conjuring up designs for the enhanced e-book of the future,” way back in 2010. So why hasn’t that promise been fulfilled? Because every shift away from the eBook’s analog roots is a shift away from its unique differentiator.

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As a digital agency that produces truck loads of eBooks, this conclusion does fly in the face of our interests. The more sophisticated eBooks get, the more time and effort they would take to produce, and that greater time and effort would translate to greater billings for us. In other words, we have nothing to gain by reporting this finding – so you can trust it, even if you are reading about it on the internet.

At the end of the day, the takeaway is simple: keep eBooks in the marketing mix, and don’t look to get too fancy with them. And of course, if you’d like some help making that happen, we’d love to hear from you.

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