This post, by Mark Coker, originally appeared on The Huffington Post Books blog on 2/12/13.
If anyone doubts the speed at which the epicenter of book publishing is shifting from publishers to self-published authors, look no further than the Apple iBookstore.
Last week, Apple’s iBookstore launched Breakout Books in the U.S., a new book merchandising feature that showcases books from popular self-published authors, including several that have already achieved New York Times bestseller status. The New York Times covered the story last week, as did The Wall Street Journal.
Apple’s merchandising team hand-picked the titles, all of which have earned high ratings from Apple customers.
Disclosure: Many of the eBooks featured were distributed to Apple by my company, Smashwords.
Although the iBookstore has always carried and supported self-published eBooks, last week’s launch signified an escalated commitment on the part of Apple, whose iBookstore currently sells books in 50 countries. The iBookstore first piloted the Breakout Books feature in their Australian store in late November and has since implemented similar ongoing features in Canada and the U.K.
A retailer’s merchandising decisions are among the most important levers driving book discovery and sales. Whether you’re a traditionally published author or a self-published author, such placement can make your book stand out in a haystack of millions of other books competing for your reader’s attention.
Why are retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Amazon giving self-published ebooks such merchandising love?
eBook Retailers and Readers Are Embracing Self-Published Authors
Over the last few years, I’ve written multiple posts here on The Huffington Post articulating the advantages of eBook self-publishing from the author perspective, such as the opportunity to bypass publishing gatekeepers; faster time to market; access to global distribution; higher royalties; and greater creative control. Many other industry watchers have covered the same.
Few in the publishing industry, however, have examined why retailers are stepping up their support for self-published books, and why readers are purchasing them. When we examine the myriad reasons, we see the playing field is likely to continue tilting to the advantage of self-published ebook authors.
Here, I’ll outline why retailers and readers are supporting self-published books, and what it means for authors: