Dulcimer Book – Print or Digital?

I have been working on a book of finger-picked arrangements of  traditional tunes for the Appalachian mountain dulcimer.

There will be about 30 tunes in both tablature and standard notation. I will also record two versions of each tune; a version exactly as written and an enhanced version demonstrating what can be added to a written arrangement by the player.

I am considering using the following publishing formats and would like to hear your opinions:

Printed dulcimer books - tried and true technology

  • A printed book and an accompanying CD
  • PDF files of the book and MP3 recordings of the tunes on a CD (no printed book)

A dulcimer book and accompanying MP3 files on a disc - how radical!

I like the idea of publishing the book using a digital format. PDF files can be read on any computer and can easily be printed  for personal use. The recordings and tablature/text will always be together; you won’t have one in your hand while searching for the other!

The cost of manufacturing the CDs will be significantly less expensive than printing a book and far less expensive than a book/CD package. This would mean I could sell the project for a lower price.

A digital publication of the book would also save some trees!

There are two potential drawbacks I see to publishing a dulcimer book digitally:

  • Some people might not want to buy a book on a CD as they prefer books
  • The tablature, text and recordings would be easier for people to illegally copy and share.  Such actions make it difficult for artists to make a living.

So let me know your thoughts!

4 thoughts on “Dulcimer Book – Print or Digital?

  1. Hi Christian,
    Thanks for the comment. Good thoughts. The trick is financing production of all the available options! I had thought of paid download as ideal, then a CD with all the info and then a book/CD from the production standpoint. Seems most dulcimer players I heard from want a book so I might go that route, possibly print-on-demand, but also make it available digitally for those who embrace that technology.
    I look forward to checking out your blog.
    All the best,


  2. Why force yourself to make a choice? Give a choice! Some prefer discs, some prefer books. From a marketing point I’d say, offer both options. And while your at it, make it also availabl as a paid download. Even less overhead!

  3. Thanks, Peter. I agree with your suggestions. Seems many dulcimer players I have heard from prefer a book though I would prefer doing the CD. I might offer the CD and sell the book through a Print-On-Demand service.

  4. Your arguments for both options are valid. However, if someone wants to copy and distribute they will no matter the format. If you use pdfs and clearly label all pieces they must knowingly violate the copyright. I’d go with the CD.


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