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Books Gone Wild: More POD Success!

In yesterday’s post about an article in the Times I failed to mention the POD success story of Lisa Genova.  Lisa tried desperately to find a traditional publisher for her book, Still Alice.  After many failed attempts, she opted to self-publish the book with iUniverse and began selling copies out of the trunk of her car.  Simon and Schuster ended up picking up the book last year on a half million dollar contract and Still Alice hit the NYT Bestseller list this month!

I wanted to bring Lisa’s story to light only because of an article I found on Times Magazine’s website from a few weeks ago.  The article begins with coverage on Lisa, but most importantly goes into a very in-depth look at the “digital age” of publishing.  The Amazon Kindle is mentioned, along with the infamous free “cell phone” novels that have taken off overseas.  Daniel Suarez’s Daemon is also mentioned, which was self-published in the beginning before being picked up by Penguin after a huge following by online bloggers. 

Here’s a great quote from the article…

Self-publishing has gone from being the last resort of the desperate and talentless to something more like out-of-town tryouts for theater or the farm system in baseball. It’s the last ripple of the Web 2.0 vibe finally washing up on publishing’s remote shores. After YouTube and Wikipedia, the idea of user-generated content just isn’t that freaky anymore.

As more people continue to blog and publish online, it is very true that the physical novel is not only losing it’s paper value but also losing its dollar value as well.

Not that Old Publishing will disappear–for now, at least, it’s certainly the best way for authors to get the money and status they need to survive–but it will live on in a radically altered, symbiotic form as the small, pointy peak of a mighty pyramid. If readers want to pay for the old-school premium package, they can get their literature the old-fashioned way: carefully selected and edited, and presented in a bespoke, art-directed paper package. But below that there will be a vast continuum of other options: quickie print-on-demand editions and electronic editions for digital devices, with a corresponding hierarchy of professional and amateur editorial selectiveness.

So, there you have it.  Self-publishing isn’t such a bad thing now, is it?

None of this is good or bad; it just is. The books of the future may not meet all the conventional criteria for literary value that we have today, or any of them. But if that sounds alarming or tragic, go back and sample the righteous zeal with which people despised novels when they first arose. They thought novels were vulgar and immoral. And in a way they were, and that was what was great about them: they shocked and seduced people into new ways of thinking. These books will too. Somewhere out there is the self-publishing world’s answer to Defoe, and he’s probably selling books out of his trunk. But he won’t be for long.

Check out the full article here!

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