Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Will Self-Publishers Kill the Book Industry?

At least they've stopped blaming bloggers.

Very interesting article in the New York Times today talks about the burgeoning world of self-publishing. Through this blog, I've gotten on a lot of mailing lists and I get emails every day offering me books for review. I think that's great - but some of the books give me pause. For example, I was offered a book that purported to show proof that John Lennon had sold his soul to the devil. I was tempted to take it just for the giggles, but a guy who could say that with a straight face could also fire-bomb your house, so, maybe not. I find it hard to believe that a big publishing house paid good money for that little tome.

Overall, I'm thrilled to hear that self-publishing is a growing industry. I think the book industry has gotten to be much like the movie and television industries: if it doesn't appeal to a huge mass of consumers, no one is interested in producing it. If our viewing options were reduced to the sort of toilet-humor slapsticks, brainless sitcoms and explosion-a-minute thrillers the big studios seem to favor, it would hardly be worth buying a movie ticket or owning a tv. What has come to our rescue? Independent films and cable. Smaller productions aimed at niche markets that don't need to appeal to the mass market to be successful. I see self-publishing much the same way.

The article has some great success stories as well as caveats for people interested in going this route. I honestly believe that great work will find an audience, even if that audience is a very select one and I am excited to hear that more and more people are able to look for their audiences this way. What about you? Read any good self-published books lately?


Anonymous said...

I'll admit, I'm still really leery of self-published prose work, but I do think there's tons of great stuff going on in the world of self-published comics and graphic novels. As you said, it's tough for authors to interest big publishers in work that doesn't fit the industry's idea of what consumers want, and lots of really talented comic creators have circumvented this by founding their own imprints and self-publishing. Many of my favourite comics, (including Mark Oakley's THIEVES & KINGS, Linda Medley's CASTLE WAITING, Jeff Smith's BONE and Wendy and Richard Pini's ELFQUEST), were originally self-published as traditional publishers were unwilling to take a chance on unconventional work. Many of them have since been picked up by traditional publishers, who recognized the way they resonate with readers.

FleurFisher said...

Interesting. Self publishing doesn't seem to have taken off in the same way in the UK. Thank you for your interesting posts and comments. I have left you an award

Anonymous said...

I think self-publishing is going to be something of a mixed bag, though I think overall it's probably going to be a boon like the smaller shows and independent films have been.

There may be less exposure of any given book, though, since there won't be a big marketing push behind it. On the other hand, just like the specialty cable channels, an individual book can likely be marketed more easily to the specific niche of people to whom it would appeal.

Even the dreck will find a niche of dreck-readers, I suppose. But it does make me uneasy to think that some qualified editing eye won't be going over most of what gets put out there.

caite said...

Hey! I read the same article! And said a few things about it HERE.

I think it is an issue of interest to bloggers, especially if you review a fair number of books.

Jena said...

I suspected self-publishing would become a more popular choice for authors everywhere when the publishing world started showing cracks, but still, I'm hesitant to read self-published books. I know too many SP authors who refuse to or are chintzy about hiring editors. My favorite self-published book? It's for people considering self-publishing.