Books, Printing, and Self-Publishing

In an age of increas­ing digit­iz­a­tion, objects become more valu­able. And that value is the reas­on print media will not die, even if it does shrink. My pre­dic­tion for print media, there­fore, is two-fold: you will see small run, loc­al edi­tions of hard­bound books and quick, cheap paper­backs. Couple this with our new atti­tudes on the demo­crat­iz­a­tion of con­tent online and you are going to find quite a num­ber of people self-pub­lish­ing books. In fact, there are num­ber of folks doing inter­est­ing things already:

Snark­mar­ket, earli­er this year, pub­lished 200 paper­backs of New Lib­er­al Arts which drew from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent thinkers online:

It’s 2009. A gen­er­a­tion of digit­al nat­ives is careen­ing towards col­lege. The eco­nomy is reboot­ing itself weekly. We have new respons­ib­il­it­ies now—as employ­ees, cit­izens, and friends—and we have new cap­ab­il­it­ies, too. The new lib­er­al arts equip us for a world like this. But… what are they?

The best part about their self-pub­lish­ing mod­el is that after the 200 paper­backs were sold, the released the pdf for free.

Now, in light of that suc­cess, Robin Sloan has raised money through Kick­starter to write his latest nov­el:

The basic setup is: Ima­gine a Sher­lock Holmes for the 21st cen­tury. All ther­e­ally good cases are on the inter­net. And Holmes is a woman, and Wat­son is an A.I., and San Fran­cisco… oh, poor San Fran­cisco…

Why are these ven­tures import­ant? Well, with the cost of print small runs is com­ing down, you are going to see more inter­est­ing thinkers out­side the tra­di­tion­al pub­lish­ing circles writ­ing and selling books online. And you will find self-pub­lish­ing will be increas­ingly legit­im­ized* because as Diana Kim­ball noted about Robin Sloan’s cur­rent pro­ject:

Kick­starter forces pro­mo­tion, plan­ning, and urgency to the begin­ning, right when affirm­a­tion is most pre­cious. By cre­at­ing a pub­lic con­tract, Kick­starter takes the van­ity out of self-pub­lish­ing. It’s not you pub­lish­ing it, not really; it’s all the people who trus­ted in your work enough to bet on its suc­cess.

“The money” Robin con­fided, “is noth­ing, com­pared to just knowing.”

*This makes me won­der wheth­er or not this would mean a de-legit­im­iz­a­tion of the more tra­di­tion­al mod­el.

2 thoughts on “Books, Printing, and Self-Publishing

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