Kindle Stand doesn’t expect traditionally-published books to disappear any time soon. However, we also recognize that the publishing industry is struggling to adjust to the Internet era.
Consider that ten years ago “self publishing” carried considerable stigma; “real” writers simply wouldn’t self publish, and the expense put self-publishing out of reach for most fake writers. Today, there are many options for “fake” writers to succeed without breaking in to the traditional publishing industry. That’s a big part of why traditional publishers are struggling.
New Publishing Models
If you’re desperate to produce a bound paper & ink book, you can pay a token fee to submit your book to an on-demand publisher. For surprisingly reasonable prices, people can buy copies that are fresh off the press, and there’s no risk of printing more books than customers will buy.
Even before on-demand printing, the ebook had proven a viable alternative to traditional publishing. In fact, there has been a booming online industry in high-priced pdf files—many of them incredibly poorly written, but valuable for the information they contain. Thousands of entrepreneurs write and sell their own ebooks, and thousands more make money selling other people’s ebooks.
Most recently, dedicated ebook readers—the Kindle, for example—have taken the public’s fancy. The success of ereaders lets big publishers mimic the traditional publishing model without overhead of printing and physical distribution. After someone has written a book and laid it out, there is virtually no additional expense to distribute it. In fact, after you write an ebook, the greatest expense is in creating demand for it: marketing.
Publishers having large catalogs don’t have to do much marketing: it costs them almost nothing to store thousands of ebooks… so if only a few dozen sell well, it’s no big deal that several hundred sell poorly.
What this means is that for an ebook to sell well, in most cases the book’s author must promote it. In fact, if you’re planning to publish an ebook some day, you need to start marketing yourself and the book weeks or months before the book is available to buy. Skilled Internet marketers build large lists of followers anxious to buy whatever book is about to “go live” and they sell hundreds or thousands of high-priced pdf files in just a few hours.
The Author as Kindle Stand
Amazon.com is encouraging the growth of this new publishing model. Self-published authors of Kindle ebooks can keep nearly 70% of the proceeds for each sale! The same book published traditionally might generate a 15% royalty. The down side for the author is that the book isn’t going to get any promotion from Amazon (and, of course, there’s no paper and ink version).
So… most authors who publish Amazon Kindle books will need to become Kindle book-selling stands. The author will do all the marketing—or hire someone to do it. This isn’t as onerous as it may seem. It turns out traditional publishers choose new authors in part for the Internet presence they already command, and the promise that the author’s online notoriety will help to sell books. It’s easy to see why ebook readers and self-publishing are putting the hurt on traditional publishers.
Do you enjoy books published only for the Kindle? Will self-publishing eventually attain the status of traditional publishing? Please share your thoughts in a comment.