digital self publishing

Will Self-Publishing Counterbalance Trade Publishing Consolidation?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

digital self publishingIn today’s feature story, Penguin Random House, the “Following Four,” and the Future of Competition, publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin notes that the merged Penguin Random House will publish “half the books” in the United States. He adds, “I ultimately think we’ll see that general trade publishing is going to consolidate into a single entity over the next ten years.” Such predictions can be, as Shatzkin’s colleague Michael Cader noted, can in hindsight “be revised or rescinded” altogether.

If Shatzkin’s prediction comes true and we do see further consolidation, the paths to traditional publishing will rest in the hands of very few. Of course, recent years have seen a surge in the production of self-published writers. Could the production of self-published writers provide a countercultural counterbalance to the consolidation? Or will this merely produce a status stratification between the “chosen” and “everyone else.”

Naturally, there are those that are now opting for self-publishing as the preferred route to publication, bypassing traditional publishing altogether. Self-publishers are organizing and acting collectively, something which offers them additional presence and power in certain contexts. Take BookExpo America, for example, where yesterday CJ Lyons, Hugh Howey, Bella Andre, Tina Folsom, Stephanie Bond, and Barbara Freethy — authors who claim to have sold a total of 10 million copies of their books between them — hosted their own collective books signing a booth they’d taken on the show floor.

Bowker has announced the launch of its own a resource and education site for self-published authors and in the UK the Alliance of Independent Publishers, an organization for self-published writers, was launched last year. Self-publishers, it must be said, are thinking like entrepreneurs.

Does this presage a trend in self-publishers becoming increasingly organized and, well, more traditional. I think it very likely.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments..

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.