Thursday, June 16, 2011

Too Big, Must Fail

I was perusing my daily blog roll yesterday when this article caught my eye. I doubt the author had the book publishing biz in mind when he wrote it, but it's all I could think about from start to finish.

Here's the core of the article:

Big companies often get stagnant, focusing less on innovation and more on protecting a market...And, as Andy Kessler noted in his most recent book, the innovators, who get around those things and unleash value, are often derided as thieves and criminals for undermining established business models. But what comes out of those upstart efforts is, generally, much better for the consumer.

I get that legacy pubs want to protect what market share they can in this kinda-turning-around-but-not-really economy. That's just business. Trouble is, this affects me directly because unless I get extraordinarily lucky (or, considering most legacy pubs' reputations for not paying authors well, unlucky), I will not be published in the standard way. So the only route left is to self-publish.

I'm guessing this is how the guys at Twitter felt when they were getting ready to release their micro-blogging site. I remember hearing about micro-blogging and going, "That sounds stupid. Who can form a complete thought in 140 characters? It'll never work. And anyway, who can come up with enough interesting stuff to fill all the dead space that would inevitably crop up?"

Everyone under the sun was loving Facebook and traditional blogging so much. Many viewed the Twitter lot as "criminals" wanting to diminish our precious attention spans even further. I was in that mob, I'm sad to say, weilding my torch at the Frankenstein monster that we hoped would go mess with some other town.

Fast forward five years: Twitter is where it's at, at least for those of us who have to market ourselves. I think indie authors are in that awkward place right now where lots of people see them (wrongly) as lazy, or just not very talented, but at the same time there's this fascination with e-readers. And also, culturally, there is a backlash against institutions, and not just here but all around the world (read: the Middle East, Greece, et al.).

So I'm going to probably self-publish my WIP. I love the technology, and can't imagine that people of all ages won't be carrying Kindles/Nooks/whatever with them wherever they go soon. What do you think? Am I wrong and the market for e-readers will plateau (especially for certain age groups, like children)? Do you think readers will start to dislike their new role as gatekeepers? Let me know!

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