How extensively do companies that accommodate the increasing number of self-publishers change the industry landscape? Do they change it at all? Platforms like Amazon’s CreateSpace, Lulu, or iBooks from Apple, make self-publishing a more viable option than it once used to be, but does the existence of these options threaten traditional publishing? Maybe, maybe not. If anything, they highlight the selectivity of big publishers and encourage the creative produce from an untapped source. Understandably, big publishers can’t, from a business standpoint, take a risk on everyone they come across, even if an author shows promise, but are there ways they can make themselves more relevant to a growing pool of writers?
Whether traditional publishers step up their game or not, companies that support self-publishers are upping theirs. In addition to the few I’ve already mentioned, Blurb has been developing resources for authors, and surprisingly, the commercial segment of the industry.
An article published in The Telegraph by Andrew Cave highlights Eileen Gittins and her work with Blurb, and the way the company has grown since 2005. The company is entirely online and outsources its warehousing and production.
When set beside CreateSpace and Lulu, Blurb may not be a clear stand-out when it comes to self-publishing, but the fact of the matter is, the company is growing and is following the needs of the users. Until reading the Telegraph article, I hadn’t considered how self-publishing platforms could accommodate commercially for film companies or others that require photo-heavy productions. Is this a new source for revenue that publishers can take into consideration or not?
I took a look at the Telegraph article and I was surprised. I would have thought that despite the amount of self-publishing platforms out there, that if an author wanted a quality photo-book, she would need to seek the resources of a big house. Clearly, with companies out there like Blurb who are more than capable of helping authors reach a certain level of quality, it is more important for publishers to show why they can provide a better service. I would think that the accommodations that Blurb has made for large companies is something that publishers could pursue doing themselves, but they would probably need to buy a company like Blurb and let it run as an independent imprint in order to be successful.
Self-publishing has become a powerful force and I think the saying “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em” applies here. Authors are going to self-publish, whether publishers like it or not, so publishers may as well find a way to get some benefit out of it. I think having self-publishing assisting imprints is a great idea. I know there are a couple of publishers who have taken on this model but I’m not sure how it’s been working for them so far. In any case, if the self-published book sucks then it’s on that self-publishing imprint, so the publisher can eschew ‘blame’ for its publication. If it turns into a hit, the publisher can get a piece of that action. I think it’s a good way to make the most of the situation.