Opinion: Is there an ebook eZone?

What is the ebook eZone? And why should you care? To answer those questions, we first have to look at Twitter and one of the world’s most notable marketers.

The other day Twitter showed me a video from New York Times bestselling author Seth Godin. The video is a sneak peek for the documentary PressPausePlay. Godin describes his reasoning for self-publishing an ebook that took him a dozen days to write. Godin raises a lot of interesting questions about modern publishing in this short video. An interesting question he raises is one that all self-published authors have to address namely: “I finished the book…now what am I going to do with it?”

ezone infographic

As Authors today, we have many choices for delivering our content. We can try our luck and go the traditional route; or we can self-publish it as a paperback. We can upload it to a blog; or we can publish it as an ebook and distribute it to retails. With all these choices, it’s hard to decide where and how to distribute your work.

Is There an ezone?

Having published in different formats, I recently asked: is there an ebook “eZone?” Inspired by the Goldilocks Zone in planetary astronomy, the ebook eZone is space that is too long for a blog but too short for a printed book. It is the length of content that seems “just right” to be published electronically. And made available for download at a minimal fee (or even made available for free). Keep in mind that we can make any length of content into an ebook. Some unwieldy long books being easier to read electronically.

When I talk about the eZone, I mean college papers, short stories, poetry, magazine articles—content that you’re proud of that didn’t really take you that long to write (relatively ) and when you see it sitting idle on your hard-drive you ask: “what am I going to do with it?” From a reader standpoint, eZone ebooks are those titles on your device that you can finish on a short train ride, regional flight, or in the time it takes to fall asleep.

Besides content length, the eZone also represents a “sweet spot” between timeliness of content (how current the topic may be) and the time you have invested in writing and researching the content. The above infographic is what I believe the ebook eZone may look like. Obviously, this infographic is not scientific nor does it take into account variables like genre, type of content, etc. The infographic exists to help visualize a point, namely that there may be a confluence of content length, content timeliness, and the time one can devote to writing a title that makes eBooks the ideal vehicle for distributing content.

Opportunity Window

I figured it would also be helpful to point out some of my reasoning behind this infographic. Problogger.com reports that a typical reader “spends 96 seconds reading the average blog”—giving writers a “96 window of opportunity” to capture a reader’s attention. If the average American Adult has a reading speed of 300 words per minute, then it is reasonable to assume that a typical reader will focus his/her attention, on average, to around 450 words on a typical blog (I have just pasted that threshold, so congratulations loyal reader for being above average). The page length I selected for printed books was less about attention span and had more to do with printing requirements.

A U.S. Trade perfect bound paperback book can have a page length of between 32 and 740 pages—anything above that would require a different format. Timeliness of content and the time invested in writing a book are very subjective criteria and are hard to measure. Everyone writes and researches at different rates. Some people like Seth Godin who are content machines can hammer out five best-sellers in the time it would take me to write one sub-par manuscript. So the intersection where timeliness of content and time invested is subjective—but a reality worth addressing.

In short, the ebook eZone is a theory. If may turn out to be completely wrong. I just hope that authors test it out, find their writing comfort zones, and publish their content in as many formats as possible. You have many choices, make sure to find the format that’s “just right” for you!

6 thoughts on “Opinion: Is there an ebook eZone?”

  1. This is a good idea. However, I always tell my students that the best length for an ebook is whatever it takes to convey the information you want to convey. This is where having a clear purpose for your ebook before you start writing it is so crucial.
    Ebooks need do nothing more than solve a single problem for a reader; as long as the material is relevant and engaging the book can be as long (or short) as you like.

  2. Hello, i read your blog from time to time and i own
    a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam
    responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything
    you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

  3. Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues.
    It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!

Join the Conversation

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: