This post, from Mary Anne Graham, originally appeared on her Quacking Alone blog on 7/11/10.
There’s no doubt about who’s winning the American Indie Revolution. The castle walls of the old publishing royals stand in ruins. Even former staunch allies like Barnes & Noble have defected to the insurgent writers.
“Digital publishing and digital book selling will soon become the most explosive development in the history of our industry and will sweep aside those who aren’t participating,” Leonard Riggio, B&N’s founder and chairman, said during a recent presentation highlighting the company’s expanding foray into the digital market.
The e-reader market is in the midst of a price war that is putting more and more of the devices into the hands of the book-buying American public. Fewer readers visit the brick and mortar bookstores as more readers demand that the bookstores come to them, via their PCs, Macs, e-readers, iPods and cell phones. Via America’s strong and ever expanding wireless networks ebooks get delivered to readers instantly.
When American publishers lost control of the distribution system, they lost control of the readers and the writers. Today authors like Joe Konrath have chosen to forego offered publishing contracts for some books, electing to get them out in print and ebook format on their own, thank you very much. Books of writers doing it their way are, more and more, transitioning readers to expect stories undiluted by editorial changes demanded by publishers. An American indie book or ebook is becoming an intimate experience shared only by the writer and the reader.
But even in the present economic downturn, America’s companies invested the time and resources to build the pipelines that allowed the Indie Revolt to succeed. Those pipelines are being strengthened as demand encourages more investment. Our writers can now write their books, publish them, sell them to readers and get paid via those same magic pipelines that funnel money directly into their bank accounts.
In the heady atmosphere of power and possibility now held by the creators themselves, it becomes rather easy to forget that America’s Indie Revolt is not yet the world’s. Imagine an American publisher today saying the following: “Everyone knows that almost all publishers cheat their authors on their royalty payments, and there’s nothing the authors can do about it.”