Ewan Morrison: “…epublishing is another tech bubble”
This is one of the most interesting articles on e-books that I’ve read in some time:
Ewan Morrison likens online independent publishing to the tech bubble.
A few people make a lot of money, lots of people get into it (the bubble inflates), and then…pop!
I think many people sort of intuitively feel that there are many people publishing that are feeding a current ravenous maw for content, that wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be making it in the higher bar paper world.
This isn’t about just guessing, though.
Morrison does a great job of going through what people are being told to get them in the game, what “success rules” they are being sold…and some actual statistics.
For example, there is the stat that 10% of independent e-publishers make 75% of the money.
Of course, it’s quite possible that the same is true in traditionally published p-books. You don’t think Stephen King makes hundreds of times what low-paid novelists make?
I’m going to really recommend that you read the article, especially if you are an author or thinking about becoming one.
I want to look at one particular idea, though.
Why would people encourage other people to become authors?
Where’s the upside?
One of the reasons is that you can make money when people think you can tell them how to make money.
Yes, that could be books and seminars about how to be a successful independent publisher.
I joked about that in this
That’s a direct exchange: you pay me for a “secret” or for expertise.
There are other people and organizations that benefit by people independently publishing.
Amazon does, for sure…even if the self-published book doesn’t sell one copy.
It helps because customers think that having more content options is better.
Take the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). The growth of available books was incredibly multiplied by Amazon starting KDP Select, a program that allowed publishers using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to make their books available in the KOLL.
Sure, some of those indies make money doing that…and Amazon doesn’t charge them for it (although they do require exclusivity, meaning that the publisher might lose potential sales elsewhere). Amazon, though, makes money whether those books are borrowed or not, if people are more likely to use Kindles (and/or join Prime) because of the close to 200,000 books in the KOLL.
What about all this encouragement to tweet to get readers?
Twitter makes money based on traffic, right?
That’s what makes all of this not immediately clear. Money doesn’t need to be made directly from the independent publisher (although it can be). It can be made by people and organizations that benefit from both the sheer volume of titles and the promotion of those titles.
Why would that cease to be true in the future?
There could be a couple of reasons.
First, if it turns out that folks realize that making money as an author actually is hard work with a small chance of success, the number of people who do it may vastly diminish…making the market for direct exploitation much smaller and less attractive.
The other thing is that traditional content suppliers, or other big organization players, may figure out how to give us enough content that we get choosier again.
I think that’s already happened to some extent.
Are free e-books less desirable to you now than they were, oh, a year or two ago?
That’s evidence of a potential bubble.
I don’t think this means that indie e-publishing isn’t going to be just as good a path now for some people in three years as it is now. However, there may not be as many people taking it as a bad path.
I strongly recommend Ewan Morrison’s article to you.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.