The future of the book

This is from Banu over at NC Arts.
From The Wall Street Journal
June 3, 2010
‘Vanity’ Press Goes Digital
By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER And JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG

Writer Karen McQuestion spent nearly a decade trying without success to persuade a New York publisher to print one of her books. In July, the 49-year-old mother of three decided to publish it herself, online.

Eleven months later, Ms. McQuestion has sold 36,000 e-books through Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle e-bookstore and has a film option with a Hollywood producer. In August, Amazon will publish a paperback version of her first novel, “A Scattered Life,” about a friendship triangle among three women in small-town Wisconsin.

Ms. McQuestion is at the leading edge of a technological disruption that’s loosening traditional publishers’ grip on the book market—and giving new power to technology companies like Amazon to shape which books and authors succeed.

Much as blogs have bitten into the news business and YouTube has challenged television, digital self-publishing is creating a powerful new niche in books that’s threatening the traditional industry. Once derided as “vanity” titles by the publishing establishment, self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment.

“If you are an author and you want to reach a lot of readers, up until recently you were smart to sell your book to a traditional publisher, because they controlled the printing press and distribution. That is starting to change now,” says Mark Coker, founder of Silicon Valley start-up Smashwords Inc., which offers an e-book publishing and distribution service.

Fueling the shift is the growing popularity of electronic books, which few people were willing to read even three years ago. Apple Inc.’s
iPad and e-reading devices such as Amazon’s Kindle have made buying and reading digital books easy. U.S. book sales fell 1.8% last year to $23.9 billion, but e-book sales tripled to $313 million, according to the Association of American Publishers. E-book sales could reach as high as 20% to 25% of the total book market by 2012, according to Mike Shatzkin, a publishing consultant, up from an estimated 5% to 10% today.

To continue reading:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704912004575253132121412028.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsForth

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