Tag Archives: niches

Indie books >> Audiences

Yesterday I wrote about Eric Asimov’s recommendation of two wine books published and sold directly by their authors. And I’ve been thinking about what a bookselling world looks like when hundreds of thousands of authors sell their books from their own websites. How do customers find their way through such a fragmented marketplace? How do authors reach potential audiences? What is the shopping experience like?

In today’s 12 Reasons to be Excited about Publishing’s Future, Jane Friedman used her reason to point to OpenSky:

Authors can use this service seamlessly with their own site or social networking efforts. It’s one of the best tools I’ve seen to help authors build a sustainable business model that doesn’t rely on publishers or book sales.

And there’s one answer. That’s the kind of connector I was envisioning in yesterday’s post. This particular one allows bloggers to become sellers and, in the case of books, authors to become suppliers, and everyone to make some money while providing readers with blogger filtering mechanisms to sort through the independently published authors and pick out the best in a particular niche. It’s a neat idea, and I look forward to seeing how well it works in the book market too.

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?