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Saturday, 4 August 2012

Smashwords: The Future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012

Here's a fascinating insight into the present and future of publishing by Mark Coker of Smashwords: Smashwords: The Future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012
At first glance, there's no limit to how much the self-published ebook author gains from this bright new dawn. The route to conventional publication is tough, and prone to detours and roadblocks. Cut out the middle men (and women), publish your own work and you'll bypass a lot of heartbreak.

On the other hand there is an unpleasant truth that must be faced. Conventional publishers have many reasons for turning down books, and one of them is quality control. Russell Lynes, one time editor of Harper's Magazine said: "Every journalist has a novel inside him, which is an excellent place for it." The rush to publish isn't necessarily good, or advisable. Victoria Beckham or Prince William could easily become million sellers overnight with self pubbed editions of "What I Did On My Holidays", but it would be an awful lot harder to shift many copies with that title if the author didn't have either a glamourous media image, a title, or both.

And another thing. Despite the explosion in titles on the market surely the number of readers worldwide must remain pretty constant. Once the initial thrill of the new technology has worn off and everyone who's likely to buy an ereader has one, maybe the market will settle down - and that's before we get around to pricing. There's an old saying: "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" There are thousands of books on the internet downloadable for free, whether legally or illegally. The relentless driving down of prices is good for the reader, but not so good for the author and disastrous for small independent booksellers.

It's good to see authors taking the initiative, but how long can these trends continue?