Increase the perceived value of your eBook

Increase the perceived value of your eBook

eBooks have long been a popular and effective way to deliver information to a target market. However, one disadvantage to producing an eBook (especially as a PDF) is that they have a very low perceived value.  One reason for this is that most people assign value based on cost of duplication rather than value of information that something contains.

Hard cover vs. paperback

One physical world corollary to this is the difference in price between a hard back and a paperback book.  They both contain identical information and both will provide you with the same benefit (if you read them).  Still, publishers make hard back books and consumers pay more for them than their paperback equivalents.  They effectively increased the perceived value of the book without changing any of the content.

By now you should be wondering: What can I do to increase the perceived value of my eBook? In this article I’ll show you how to do just that by improving the formatting of your book.

Exampe: Financial product bonus ebook

I put together an example to illustrate the process.  In this case I think I’ve found a niche in international stock markets and I want a product to test the niche.  Note that the same process here could just as easily be used to create a bonus for an existing product. A quick search on project gutenberg brings up this book:

International Finance by Hartley Withers

Microsoft Word Version

The easiest way to turn this into an ebook that can sell as a product or serve as a bonus is to condition the text a little bit and paste it into Microsoft Word or other word processor and then use a PDF print driver to turn it into a downloadable PDF.  Some software, like OpenOffice will let you export to PDF in one shot.  Let’s take a look at what I did:

  • Download file from project gutenberg
  • Use TextPad text editor to remove unnecessary line breaks and other text conditioning (search and replace)
  • Copy and paste into Microsoft Word and start adjusting page breaks and formatting
  • Go to and find an image that suggest international finance
  • Create a cover for my ebook.
  • Print to PDF using the free Primo software.

When I printed to PDF using Primo I got the following dialogue and I just chose the ebook option, assuming that they’re the experts at PDF creation and they know best.

Here’s the finished product:

International Finance by Hartley Withers (Word Version)

That’s not bad.  All things considered it took me about 40 minutes to create that eBook.  That includes the search time on gutenberg and formatting and creating the cover.  In my opinion, the ebook doesn’t look very good and it’s value is questionable.  Even if it convinces someone to buy the product in the first place, does it actually add enough value to prevent returns?

There’s a better (looking) way

Now let me show you how to do a much better job than that Word Document version above. The learning curve is a bit steeper than using Word, but the outcome is much better.  After you see the end result I think you’ll be ready to invest the time to master this process.  You’ll also notice that in the long run, this will not only increase the value of your offering, but it will reduce your time per project. For example, in order to make the Word version above look as good as what I’m about to show you it would easily triple the time required.

This next PDF that I’ll show you was created using LaTeX.  What in the devil is LaTeX?  It’s not that rubbery stuff they make gloves out of, it that’s what you’re wondering.  TeX, and it’s offspring LaTeX were one of the first professional publishing platforms designed originally to work on Unix systems and is used widely in academic circles.  If all that sounds boring it’s because you haven’t seen what it can do yet.  Here’s what I did (note the duplicate steps in blue):

  • Download file from project gutenberg
  • Use TextPad text editor to remove unnecessary line breaks and other text conditioning (search and replace)
  • Copy and paste into WinShell using a template and identify chapter markers (no formatting necessary)
  • Go to and find an image that suggest international finance
  • Create a cover for my ebook.
  • Click a button to produce my PDF output

International Finance by Hartley Withers (LaTeX Version)

My time to create this eBook was about 45 min.  That’s a few minutes longer than the Word version, but have a look at the difference in output.  What do you think?  Does this version give a higher perceived value?

Some of the great things about LaTeX include the fact that I don’t have to do any formatting, tweaking or adjusting.  It automatically applies page numbers, builds a table of contents (including linking withing the PDF), manages line/page breaks, images and alternating pages.  It even manages the chapter heading style.  All I do is provide text.  Here are the text files for that book that I used in WinShell.

Here are the rest of the files for you to open and look at. First is the original download from project gutenberg with the conditioned version of the text file. I’ve also included the Word document and the LaTeX files use to compile the PDF.

Original and conditioned text versions of book from gutenberg
International Finance by Hartley Withers (Microsoft Word .doc file)
International Finance eBook – PDF of Word Version
International Finance by Hartley Withers (LaTeX source files and images)
International Finance eBook – PDF of LaTeX Version

Add value with minimal effort

For roughly the same amount of time investment, I was able to take the same source content and convert it into a beautifully formatted ebook that has a much higher perceived value. It didn’t require significantly more work either.

Another BIG benefit to the method that I’ve outline here is that the end product will feed right into create space and be ready to purchase on in no time. Just imagine, if the formatting increases perceived value, how much more would the value increase if there was a physical product on Remember that people often equate value to duplication cost.

For your next eBook, take a little extra time an learn the ropes of LaTeX so that you end up with a polished, high value product? As always, leave your comments below.

One Response to “Increase the perceived value of your eBook”

  1. Gilles April 22, 2010 at 5:18 am #

    Hey Daniel, this is really a great tip.

    I know LaTeX since a long time. I wrote a thesis using it. But I did it the hard way, the process needed to “compile” some LaTeX source files to get the final result (which was really great). The source files were edited using emacs…

    But winshell gives now a great tool to simplify this process and provide a very well polished final document.

    Thanks again for this great tip !


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