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  • Dennis DeRobertis

eBook vs Printed Children's Book

To eBook or Not to eBook? That is the question. Well, one of them, at least.

The Little Brown Spider is hanging from his webbing as he decides whether to read a print book or ebook.
The Little Brown Spider deciding...will it be a print book or an ebook today?

Dead Wood vs Ones and Zeros

Before publishing the first LBS book, I knew I was going to do hardcover and paperback versions for each story. The hardcover and paperback versions were a given. Those are accepted and expected formats for children's books. I figured I'd also offer an eBook version. I wasn't sold on the concept, but I looked into it.

I considered the costs and returns before deciding to go down the ebook path. Let's take a look.

Cost vs Returns


  • ISBN: You need to use another ISBN. A single, publisher-owned ISBN costs around $125. Buying in bulk significantly decreases the cost of each ISBN, but you'll need to plan on using your lot. Some distributors offer free ISBNs, but your press name won't be used in listings, and you need to adhere to any other stipulations the providing company may require.

  • Conversion: You'll need to convert your story into ePub format. Prices vary on this, too. I've seen everything between $99 to $139 to zero if you do it yourself using a free conversion program. I tried the free way, but wasn't too successful. The tools I looked at seem to have trouble with books that are full bleed images and text. I might have to revisit at some point.

  • Publication/Distribution: You'll also need to pay for the publication of the new format. Luckily, companies like IngramSpark offer the same price if you're publishing a print only book or a print and ebook version of the same book. Your printer's/distributor's offerings may vary.

  • Administration: Another format means you'll have to update that one as well if things change (you find a mistake, you want to add that awesome medal you've just been awarded to the front cover, etc.).

The costs certainly aren't prohibitive, but need to be taken into account.


These are the potential returns as I see them. I've yet to make an ebook version of any Stone Hollow Press story.

  • Discoverability: Having additional titles in different formats may help with book discoverability.

  • Marketability: You have another arrow in your marketing and advertising quiver.

  • Market Trends: Ebook sales have gone up and down and up again (the latter thanks to the pandemic). Here's an interesting article on eBook sales. Take note of the comment, "...the sale of popular, consumer ebooks released by established trade publishers..." in the article. That's pretty important, since a lot of children's books are published by "non-established" publishers.

  • Revenue: More books, more sales, increased revenue. Or so we hope.

Target Audience

Children's books are made for kids. And although kids are getting more and more digitally proficient at an ever-younger age, are they really breaking out an eBook reader or tablet with an app to consume their books? Are the adults - the parents and grandparents who purchase children's books - sitting little Jonny or little Janey on their knees and then breaking out their Kindle or iPad to read through the latest and greatest picture book?

I don't think so. And it's why I haven't taken the plunge into the ebook waters.

What Do You Think?

Am I missing something? Do you have experience with publishing your own picture book ebook? Getting your kids digital versions of your favorite picture books you had when you were a kid? I would love to get your thoughts! Let me know!

- DennisD.


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