Common Ground in the Debate of Self v. Traditional Publishing

This post by Jack W. Perry originally appeared on Digital Book World on 2/21/14.

A storm was created last week in response to Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings post. It was widely criticized by many but also praised. It started a lot of discussion.

Having read most of the back and forth, I did notice a few commonalities.

Some issues all sides generally agree upon:

1) Digital has demolished the distribution barriers to entry for self-publishing. Before digital a self-published author would have to pay to print and distribute books. That was an outlay of cash and inefficient. The author then went to indie bookstores to get distribution one book at a time. Hoping to eventually break through and signed a major deal. Today an author can upload their book and get instant distribution to the entire country. Sales can happen immediately. The goal may be to remain independent or to gain negotiating leverage with traditional publishers.

2) The data is incomplete and there is a definite need for more transparency. Amazon, B&N, Apple and Google don’t publically release sales data. There is no “Bookscan for ebooks” although Nielsen is working on it with PubTrack Digital. Self-published and the Amazon proprietary titles are generally felt to be under-reported if at all. This feeds into the debate of the size of self-published ebooks. By withholding the Kindle data, Amazon has created a massive hole in any analysis. Perhaps a company like App Annie could fill that void and be a resource of data and analytics.


Click here to read the full post, which includes four additional points of discussion, on Digital Book World.