An interesting piece on the business of self-publishing. I was struck in particular by this section pointing to the weakness of content producers in the self-publishing plane. That said, this strikes me as some kind of preferential treatment by booksellers and ultimately a bad decision by B&N, but perhaps there is some logical reason for it:
This is not to say steering clear of the big publishers doesn’t cause complications. So far, Folsom has not been able to sell the foreign rights to her work, meaning right now she can only market her books to an English-speaking audience. “We cannot get anyone to buy our foreign rights. I’ve emailed agents, tons of them. The response I get is, ‘Well, if you’re not also interested in selling your US e-rights, then I can’t represent you.’ I’ve even contacted foreign rights agents directly who don’t deal with domestic issues and even those are rejecting us. They say if they can’t go to a publisher abroad and say that you’ve been published with Random House, or Penguin, or wherever, then they’re not going to be interested.”
Without the collective bargaining power of a major publisher, an indie author may also have less clout with those companies distributing their books. Folsom told me that Barnes & Noble’s Nook store unexpectedly ceased offering free sample chapters for self-published erotica novels last week. This means that a potential reader could no longer read a few pages of the author’s work before deciding whether to purchase it. The effect on sales, Folsom said, was devastating; she saw a 35% drop overnight. So far, Barnes & Noble has not explained why this option has been removed for indie authors, but erotica published by traditional publishers has remained untouched.