It’s not really a dichotomy; you can, and probably should, have both. Thanks to print-on-demand machinery, you can get your book out there for very little money (consider Lulu.com if you can handle terrible customer support; otherwise my favorite is Booklocker.com). And you can simultaneously publish your work as an ebook, getting it formatted for the different readers, as well as offering it for computer reading.
A paper book can be a “big business card,” as Dona Kozik puts it; it’s a physical presence in your prospect’s hands, and then in their home or office, that constantly reminds them of you. It’s authoritative, and establishes you as an author–hence, an authority.
An ebook has very low production costs and is almost free to distribute. If you sell it, it’s almost pure profit; if you employ it as a bonus or giveaway, your marginal cost per copy is essentially zero.
One poorly exploited aspect of ebooks: Media richness. Your ebook can contain color, audio, video, and links–all of which are expensive, impossible, or cumbersome to put in a paper book. Yet they are easy and inexpensive to have in an ebook.
But why invest the additional work? Here are some reasons:
- Reach readers with different learning styles
- Rich more media-jaded younger readers
- Enable a reader to reach you with a single click
- Build a broader-bandwidth relationship with your reader
- Good media can be expensive or difficult to produce
- The results may not be worth the investment
- Your audience doesn’t respond well to media