The term eBook has two traditional meanings. One kind of eBook encompasses the PDF version of a book that is emailed to a buyers’ inbox. The term is used interchangeably with the other version of eBooks that are bought online and go directly to a Kindle, Nook or other electronic devices. My comments below are in reference to the kind of eBook that is emailed in PDF format to the reader’s inbox.
Publishing an eBook is an inexpensive method of bringing your book to market, but you can’t control the profits from the book. Once someone has received a PDF copy in their email, they can forward a copy to anyone and everyone without ever paying the author. I have had several copies of books ranging from $0.99 to $150.00 sent unsolicited to my inbox for my opinion by such a customer. Once your eBook goes into the inbox of your customer you have lost control of it. Again and very important, it can be shared endlessly, without the author ever making another penny.
Note that Guy Kawasaki, a successful author, speaker and entrepreneur has a different opinion about eBooks, so before you rule them out based on my experience, I highly recommend reading his book, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. Never limit yourself to one person’s opinion when you are considering a business avenue.
In my opinion, the most negative aspect of a PDF style eBook is that your potential customers are limited to one’s sphere of influence. Even if you have thousands of connections from social media, it is hard to imagine that your eBook, listed on your website, has more potential than it does on Amazon’s website. Guy Kawasaki is a wildly successful author, social media guru and businessman who has the ability to sell his goods just as easily on his site as any other. Unless you share the same level of success and fame, eBook publishing on electronic devices is much more profitable and simpler than the PDF method.
Full Disclosure: Selah Press provides services to convert your eBook to a full length or Bite-Sized Kindle or Paperback edition. However this was my opinion in 2013 when I first published How to Self-Publish: A Guide for Author-Preneurs. My opinion is the same whether it financially benefits me or not.