Rise of the indies

If you hang out in the blogworld where I’ve been hanging out in the past year or so, you’ll find much commentary, (justified) fear and worried speculation on the topic of what will become of publishing when it becomes easy for authors to publish their own books (tree- or e-) and bypass traditional publishers. I’ll be writing about various angles of that story in this blog. But I wanted to point out something interesting in today’s New York Times. Eric Asimov, in a roundup of of eight “new-ish” books on wine and spirits writes

THEY say the book industry is dying, but obviously they must have ignored the piles of new wine and spirits books accumulating on my desk. The business has indeed changed, though. Of the six new-ish books I want to recommend here, two of them are not available in stores, or even at Amazon.com. Self-publishing has moved well beyond vanity works, and now includes some excellent books on wine.

Each of the two books he’s talking about is available for sale only through the author’s website. One of those authors publishes an online wine journal and the book’s website is nicely done. The other looks to be a work in progress. But they both have Buy buttons that appear to work. One uses an e-commerce plug-in that makes it easy for a website to start selling one or many products. The other is a Paypal-only button. But they’re up and running selling their own books.

And both authors have now overcome one of the big hurdles that is discussed in the Future of the Book Business world: how will self-published authors find their audience? Who will market them? How will readers sort through the maze of self-published titles to find the gems? Will new filtering mechanisms arise to do that?

As all that gets worked out it’s nice to see an old-fashioned filtering mechanism (sorry to call you a mechanism, Eric) work and it’s nice to see these two authors find a big audience. There is hope. And it may be instructive to think about wine books, as one possible example of many niches, where we may see many more such titles soon, and some smoother filters and connectors arise in that world of wine books, to match up readers with the best of the (formerly) untraditionally-published titles. And does it hurt these authors that they’re not being sold at Amazon?

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