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Are publishers needed anymore?
Posted By Eric Sammons On September 2, 2010 @ 8:35 am In Books,Technology,Who is Jesus Christ? | Comments Disabled
It is an interesting time to be an author. By “interesting,” I mean exciting/scary/confusing/revolutionary. All of this excitement/fear/confusion/revolution centers around modern technologies, which are changing the face of reading and publishing. There are two main effects that this technology is having on the industry:
1) Ease of publication: now anyone can cheaply “publish” a book, meaning that they can bind paper together in a nice format, or they can put their book on a e-reader device. What used to be a barrier to entry no longer exists.
2) E-Reading: reading doesn’t have to involve paper anymore. Now we can read on our computers, our phones, our iPads, our Kindles and a whole host of other devices. I have mentioned previously that most people erroneously believe that e-reading is just the next step in reading that everyone will eventually take, but there is no question that e-reading is a major factor in the publishing world now.
So what does this all mean? Some are claiming that old-school publishers are dinosaurs  no longer needed in the 21st century. Others believe that the low barrier to entry means that readers need some form of filter to distinguish the wheat from the chaff and therefore traditional publishers are still very much needed . Either way, authors need to be more than just good writers these days; they need to be savvy about all the options available to them when it comes to publishing.
I tend to believe that traditional publishers are still quite necessary, but that they do have to adapt better to modern trends. The dirty little fact of self-publishing is that most of it is crap that the author’s mother wouldn’t even want to read. Most people recognize this and so they put their faith in established publishing companies to find the truly well-written works out there (and they realize that those publishing companies improve those works by their editing staff). But there are very good books hidden among the self-published masses, and some people have been very successful with self-publishing.
But one trend which most publishing companies have resisted is the trend of making more and more writing available for free. Due to the free nature of content on the Internet, most people have become more and more accustomed to paying nothing for something. They don’t mind paying for a book if they think it worthwhile, but they are often unwilling to do so “sight unseen” – they want to be able to at least read some of it first (this is why I got Our Sunday Visitor to agree to allow me to offer the Foreword and Introduction to my book Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew  available as a free download – more details coming soon). Too many publishers, however, feel like the content of their books are not to be tasted until full admission has been paid.
Self-publishing has its place in the publishing world, but only in very specific instances. The authors most likely to be successful in self-publishing are those who already have built a following for their works through traditional publishing means (for example, if J.K. Rowling decided to self-publish a book, you don’t think it would fail, do you?), and also have the ability to pay others to edit their works (almost no author can self-edit – it is just an affliction of the trade). These trusted names do not need the engine of traditional publishers to drive them to success – but such people are few and far between.
That being said, traditional publishing houses must become more adept at not only following the trends in publishing, but setting them. They need to realize that there has been a seismic shift in the publishing world and their continued success depends on remaining in front of it. The world of books would become a chaotic place indeed if traditional publishers were to disappear, so here’s hoping that they can succeed in the 21st century.
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2010/09/02/are-publishers-needed-anymore/
URLs in this post:
 old-school publishers are dinosaurs: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/08/moving-on.html
 traditional publishers are still very much needed: http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/29/self-publish-and-be-damned/
 Who is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew: http://ericsammons.com/book.html
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