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Publishers: Who Needs ’em?

I ran across the following Newsweek article by Isia Jasiewicz about the changes occurring in the publishing world. As someone with a vested interest in this subject, I was thrilled to see that views on self-publishing are changing. Heretofore, I had been told by various well-meaning friends and colleagues that self-publishing was tantamount to certain career destruction and a face-to-face meeting with the anti-Christ.

A few interesting facts from the Newsweek article:

  • The“nontraditional books” market in the United States grew by 181 percent between 2008 and 2009.
  • 5 of the top 100 bestsellers in the Kindle store are currently self-published.
  • This new approach caters to niche markets.

Very interesting, but to me, this is the most important line in the piece:

“’It’s an even playing field for the first time,’” says J. A. Konrath. “’The gatekeepers have become who they should have been in the first place: the readers.’”

Now, that is the crux of the matter.

People don’t want to be told what to read; they want to decide for themselves. And no one knows what readers want to read better than the actual readers themselves. I have worked long enough in the publishing world to know that sometimes the audience isn’t really what drives a book to the shelves. And what is on the shelves is not always the best quality work.

Now, maybe I don’t always agree with popular opinion on a certain book, but I have faith in readers to decide for themselves what they enjoy and what they believe is edifying literature.

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