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This isn’t your father’s publishing business

This isn’t your father’s publishing business

Years ago Buick created an advertising campaign around the theme that their product was no longer the staid, old-person’s car that we had been lead to believe in its previous ad campaigns.  That ad campaign didn’t really work (so I have to ask myself, why am I resurrecting it here?), but the theme applies to the turbulent times facing the publishing industry. 

A sea-change is ongoing in the publishing industry, and I’m drowning in it.  In 2009, the number of titles (in all categories) published by traditional firms dropped, but the total number of book titles published rose by 87%.  See the quote below:  

“A staggering 764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers, according to statistics released this morning by R.R. Bowker. The number of “nontraditional” titles dwarfed that of traditional books whose output slipped to 288,355 last year from 289,729 in 2008. Taken together, total book output rose 87% last year, to over 1 million books.” – April 2010 Publishers Weekly

Print on Demand, E-books, and the internet have changed the industry in a way almost as fundamental as Gutenberg did in the 1400s.  Authors no longer need the big publishing houses to go to market.  But, the big houses still have an iron hand on marketing and distribution chains as well as access to media for reviews and publicity.  For example:

  • Most newspapers, as a matter of policy, won’t review self-published books.
  • All of the chain books stores won’t put self-published books on their shelves.
  • There’s no best-seller list for self-published books.      

 Fortunately, the internet and social media provides new authors with a media venue that the big houses can’t control.  If you are reading this, you have my thanks.

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