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Self-Publishing Format Pros & Cons

Self-publishing format options are now starting to rival those of traditional publishers although the quality and availability of the products are still somewhat lacking. In this post, I will describe the book format options that are readily available to self-publishers and list the pros and cons of each.

For the purposes of this article, I will consider the options offered through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. Why KDP when there are other alternatives out there? Two reasons: It is the platform that I use and Amazon is a massive marketplace for your books.

Kindle eBook

Although the format is proprietary, Amazon has sold somewhere between 25 and 100 million Kindle readers which constitutes a large pool of potential customers for your Kindle eBook. Furthermore, you don’t actually need a Kindle to read a Kindle eBook; the Kindle Reader for PC is a FREE download, expanding your market even more.

Most publishing applications, Scrivener included, allow for compiles of your manuscript into the Kindle eBook format.

Pros & Cons


No cost in production

Immediate delivery

Embedded hyperlinks

Attractive presentation

Inexpensive for readers


Simple promotion options



One primary marketplace

Flooded market

Kindle reader or app required

KDP (CreateSpace) Paperback

Typically, self-publishers are limited to print-on-demand (PoD) options for paperback and hardcover prints. There are two major drawbacks with PoD: delivery time and print cost.

Depending on the platform you use, it could take a customer anywhere from one to six weeks to receive their PoD product. That is a big difference from a book, published by a major house, that is already in stock. In that case, next-day express delivery becomes an option. Some readers are unwilling to accept the wait for a self-published book when they can order one that has been traditionally published and be reading it the next day.

Using a PoD service is not cheap; the cost of printing eats into your potential profit on the sale. For example, the PoD paperback printing cost on The Drift is $5.34. That may not seem like much, but it is a far higher cost than traditional publishers face when doing a 10,000 book print run.

The upsides include the fact that many people enjoy reading paperbacks and extended distribution marketplaces become more feasible. Based on a 2020 study, 70% of readers prefer a printed book over an eBook or audio.

Pros & Cons


The broad market of readers

Legitimacy for the author

Easily transferable

Physical copies

Book signing options


Expense of printing

Delay in delivery

Difficulty in formatting

KDP Case Laminate Hardcovers

Many readers like to have a hardcover copy of their favorite books. More durable than paperbacks, they last longer and can be attractively displayed on bookshelves.

There are two main types of hardcovers – those that are case laminated and those that come with a dust cover. Major publishing houses almost always go with dust covers, but most self-publishing platforms limit us to case laminate versions.

In simple terms, case laminate means that the cover is printed to adhere to the hardcover of the book. Unlike a dust cover that can be removed, the printed cover is permanent. Through KDP, you can print your case laminate covers in glossy or matte styles.

Also falling under the print-on-demand umbrella, the cost of printing hardcovers can be very high. For example, printing a hardcover copy of The Drift costs $9.99, nearly double that of the paperback version.

Pros & Cons


Everyone likes a hardcover

Adds credibility for the author

Easily transferable

Great for book signings

Extended distribution marketplaces



Cost of printing

Delay in delivery

Difficulty in formatting

The long and short of it is this: The more the available formats of your book, the greater your number of sales!

On a final note for those who erroneously think the book market is dead, a 2021 study found that, in that single year, more than 825 million books were sold!

Good luck with your writing and keep at it! If you enjoy my content, please give the post a like, add a comment, share it on your social media, and subscribe for post alerts and my monthly newsletter.

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