Friday, June 11, 2010

Reader's choice publishing

"Even great books can be overlooked. And authors with great potential often struggle to connect with the larger audience they deserve to reach. We’re fortunate at to have customers who know a good book when they read one, so we've introduced AmazonEncore to help connect authors and their books with more readers."

The publishing industry is at a crossroads.  Everyone is talking about it.  It's the new revolution.  Change is in the air.  And it's not just affecting the traditional publishers.  The career path of an author is changing along with the industry, but even more important, the reader experience will change.  They will be able to more easily connect with an author, find the books they want to read, and ultimately participate in the publishing process.

That's right, I believe readers will be participating in the publishing process in the not so distant future.

When opened its metaphorical doors, it changed everything, and now it's poised to do the same again.  Amazon gave readers access to a practically endless supply of books.  With the Kindle, readers can now buy these books for a (usually) lower cost and have them downloaded in 60 seconds, available to read immediately without taking a trip to a physical store.  Then those same readers can post comments and reviews about the book, giving Amazon (and everyone else) a fantastic insight into which books are worth reading (or not). Now Amazon is getting into the publishing business with AmazonEncore, helping under-appreciated authors reach a wider audience.

Traditionally, publishing companies are the gatekeepers.  They decide which books have market value and which don't.  They make guesses about which books will sell, and then count on the fact that the blockbuster novels will make up for those that fizzle out in the market.  In the past this service was necessary because books were expensive to produce.  Publishers helped ensure that only high-quality books were sent out into the world so that readers didn't waste their time, money, and shelf space on books that didn't warrant it.  But with modern technology today, when books can be published quickly and easily in an electronic format, do we still need gatekeepers?  

I believe that modern society craves customization, individualization and connection.  We don't want people telling us what to like or how to do something.  We want to share our ideas, contribute to the wider world.  We want options.

I found this blog post not too long ago that sums up where I think the publishing industry might be moving.  The author (switch11) posits the following:

"New Publishing = More Efficient Publishing

  1. In the new model of publishing, anyone can publish, and you can publish as many books as you like.
  2. Actual end users vote for books, with their hard earned money, and decide which books succeed.
  3. In the new model of publishing, you can scale up the quality of the product, and the number of copies printed, at any time."
This new model for publishing makes a lot of sense when authors and publishers have virtually instant feedback about the book.  Readers suddenly have the power to decide what's worthwhile for themselves and then share that information with their personal network.  With modern technology, this data is easily captured and relatively quickly identifies the popular titles that are going viral online.

Once a title has built up some sales, a publisher may offer to work with the author to distribute the novel through additional book formats and improve the marketing.  At that point, the agent has the ability to negotiate rates and services, giving the author exactly what they need to make their book a real success.  Meanwhile, the publisher also benefits because they have a better understanding of the market and can pretty much guarantee their own profit on each book. 

In this new publishing world, should it come to fruition, readers participate in the decision-making process by voting with their pockets, authors choose how and where their books are published, and publishers provide real value-added while still making plenty of profit.  It's a win-win-win situation.


Word count on the novel: 38,027

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