Wired.com ponders Blurb, self-publishing & blogs
A very nice post on the Organic Researcher pointed me to a Wired.com article on Blurb.com the self-publishing outfit that I have linked to several times before. The basis for the story is their new plan to introduce a blogbook.
The Booksmart Factor
I recently changed the RSS feeds on this blog to more accurately reflect the content and one of the feeds I added was the Blurberati Blog which is the blog of Blurb.com. I added it because I have been impressed by their innovation and their ability to surprise me. By far the most impressive element of their offering is their technology. The Booksmart system for creating a book is so deceptively simple. And they have upgraded this piece of software. I would heartily encourage people to download and play with this little Gizmo.
Blurb have developed a way to remove almost all the professionals between the printing press and the author. It is flattening the industry. Oh for sure Boosmart does not solve the issues of PR and promotion, but it does resolve the issue of design and layout and in a way that presents books in pretty decent templates.
On the value of Self-Publishing
There is a wonderful Old School quote from the HarperCollins CEO in the article:
HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman says self-publishing is little more than a vanity press. “A good book will get published,” she said. “Self-publishing is denying that fact. The filters of agent, editor and publisher are still essential.”
I cannot get over the arrogance of this. Faced with a functioning and effective rival Ms Friedman is simply denying reality with that kind of talk. Clearly the filters she mentions are not necessary. Even of she has said desirable or that they are useful in judging or improving a book she might have made sense but thinking yourself indispensable is surely foolish when faced with the type of challenges that mainstream publishing currently faces.
As ever Jeff Jarvis has an interesting contribution:
“Every author I know says the publishers don’t get the job done on marketing — they end up having to do their own. As for a middleman, you can sell enough books on Amazon now to make it worthwhile.”
“The face of publishing will change,” he said. “As for who wins, the big guy or the little guy — I have no idea.”
What do I think?
Blurb are clearly innovative and forward looking. i like their product if not their prices. They are far from easily dismissed and certainly for publishers in niche sectors they are to be worried about. they may at some stage make the role of the niche publisher uneconomic. This is especially true if they begin to offer softback books at reasonable prices. I say this not because such publishers could not match them for book design, price and distribution but more because for a certain type of author the freedom and control offered by Blurb may prove irresitible.
As I have said before Authors Will Drive Change and Blurb is perfectly placed to benefit from that trend. Commissioning books within niches and genres will become more difficult over time if blurb and its fellows succeed in establishing the legitimacy of their business model in the mind of the consumer. Publishers will need to change and adapt to this threat. I wonder if we can?
Enjoying the possibilities