With the technological improvements of digital publishing and the ease of marketability to the world wide web, the publishing industry has reached a historic moment where authors now have the ability to publish themselves, vice the era where the technology and capability to print and market a book was unfeasible before 2007 with the advent of the e-reader. The need that drove authors to self-publish could have stemmed from one of five things:
- The difficulty to get published via traditional means could have driven a need to self publish.
- Money. Authors will make more money per sales transaction.
- The market demanded cheaper books (this is unlikely, since I believe customers value quality over price)
- E-commerce sites like Amazon saw an untapped market and capitalized.
- Freedom of creative control for the author.
Regardless of the reason, its rise in popularity has created a number of issues, such as consumer price expectations, and could drastically change the face of publishing forever. But John Green argues that as a consequence of the self-publishing revolution, it will heavily impact the quality of American literature. I happen to be in strong agreement with him on this issue.
What brought attention to this topic was John Green’s interview with Tim O’Reilly during the Digital Book World conference in January 2014. This Soho Press article captured his passionate response below:
“We must strike down the insidious lie that a book is the creation of an individual soul laboring in isolation. We must strike it down because it threatens the overall quality and breadth of American literature,” he said. “…without an editor my first novel, Looking for Alaska, would have been unreadably self-indulgent. And even after she helped me make it better it wouldn’t have found its audience without unflagging support … from booksellers around the country. I wouldn’t have the YouTube subscribers or the Tumblr followers, and even if I did I wouldn’t have any good books to share with them.”
John Green is now my hero.