Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is Traditional Publishing Dying? Is Amazon, POD and eBooks Changing Our Industry Forever?

Fifteen years ago I would have been able to find a publisher for my first book, Game Strategy and Tactics For Basketball: Bench Coaching for Success. I would still have been the one who did all the marketing and promotional work, but I would have benefited from the publisher's distribution system because I would have not been able to distribute the books except by direct sales. Nor would I have made as much money as I have.

Some of my other books would never have been published by a traditional publisher. Nor could I have afforded to use a vanity press to self-publish and risk tying up all that money in a press run of 1,000+ books that I might, or might not eventually be able to sell.

Amazon and advances in technology have changed everything for the author! While change can be painful, and what will transpire in the publishing/book selling industry in the coming few years will probably be painful for many, I think these changes will be good for authors and readers alike.

POD technology and distribution allows authors to have access to distribution, via Amazon and other on-line book sellers without the investment of large amounts of capital most authors do not have. eBooks offer another technology that allows authors to access potential readers via Amazon and the internet.  In both instances, POD and eBooks allow authors to reap more of the financial benefit of their efforts in the publishing industry.

I came across an excellent and in depth blog posting via another blog about self-publishing, The Publishing Maven.  The blog posting linked to from the Publishing Maven was authored by veteran author Norman Spinrad and is an explanation of what he believes to be the "death spiral" of the traditional publishing industry business model and publishing houses. It is a no holds barred look at the current state of industry.

Amazon appears to be the 900 pound gorilla in the current state of flux in the industry. Even with POD and eBook technology, without Amazon authors would not have the necessary distribution system to survive as self-published authors. Not only does Amazon market and advertise our books, it provides shipping and distribution, collects the funds from all sales and deposits the money in our bank accounts.

CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon, allows us to access POD technology for paper print books as well as a wide range of author services. As of the time of this post being written, CreateSpace does not yet offer the self-publishing author the ability to have book files converted to the Kindle format as part of the publishing and distribution process.