Nov12

The Journey Of The Written Word: Next Stop Digital

Posted by Grant McMaster

In the digital age, what will become of the beloved printed word?

Amazon and other digital publishers are changing the global stage on publishing by ousting conventional publishing houses and making no apologies for doing so.

Everyone has heard of Amazon, the magical company that began life in 1994 as ‘cadabra.com’ before founder Jeff Bezon changed the name to avoid sounding like cadaver. The Amazon policy of creating an easily accessible guaranteed marketplace has stood them well, and with their foray into the realms of publishing and films the Amazon empire seems unstoppable.

Amazon Publishing has sent ripples across the publishing industry and although they’re not alone in providing self-published, indie and small press authors with a platform, they are doing remarkably well.

Conventional publishing houses are sometimes seen as dinosaurs from a past business age that no longer really serve the interests of the writer or the reader. They demand a huge percentage of the gross products and lack the easily accessible nature and high profile of the Amazon websites.
In conventional publishing an author can expect to see 5-7% of the retail price on paperbacks and 10-15% on hardbacks, which seems a pittance when you consider that without the author there would be nothing to sell.

Amazon allows authors and their agents to publish directly through the Kindle Direct platform and their wider website. Hard copies of books are made available through print-on-demand services which literally print copies of the book and ship it directly to customers who order it. The percentage that authors make from this process is far greater despite delivery charges, the maximum being 70% for eBooks and a truly impressive 80% for hard copies.

Amazon manage this by using a standardised process for book creation and formatting by using print on demand and of course by creating and maintaining ‘Whispernet’ for all their hardware Kindle tablets and Kindle software.

There are some downsides though. The market has become somewhat saturated by content without the traditional quality control of qualified and experienced editors, proofreaders and literary agents. This market saturation is actually a source of concern for a lot of the authors and publishers who use Amazon. Getting your book noticed without a marketing team and a marketing budget is becoming more difficult.

Then there are the Trolls. Amazon’s customer reviews while often useful are sadly visited by gangs of semi-militant reviewers who have launched crusades against books and authors alike. This isn’t a phenomenon solely confined to Amazon of course, but it is something to be aware of when publishing.

Those looking to print a novel, photobook, academic paper or anything else can avail themselves of the facilities offered by Amazon through the Independent Publishing section of an Amazon Seller Account.

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