Saturday, May 31, 2014

Self-publishing is not revolutionary - it's reactionary

Trumpeted as a democratic broadening of the publishing field, 'authorpreneurialism' actually narrows the world of reading and writing

Thursday 29 May 2014   

Home improvement for publishing? … a DIY decorator. Photograph: REX/Image Broker

Self-publishing has always been possible and, indeed, for centuries was part and parcel of literary culture. Then it became expensive and, frankly, less prestigious, until digital books came along and made it affordable. Now price and success, too often the determinants of value, have made it respectable.

The idea of writers being able to bring their creations directly to readers is widely touted as a radical advance in authorial control and a revolution in the creative process. Its popularity has soared and its champions, such as the writer and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross, proclaim it as something "radical, really revolutionary within my world".. Self-publishing is the revolution du jour, the change that will liberate writers and democratise publishing.

Unfortunately, self-publishing is neither radical nor liberating. And, as revolutions go, it is rather short on revolutionaries. It is actually reactionary, a contracted version of the traditional publishing model in which companies, who produce for a wide range of tastes and preferences, are replaced by individual producers each catering to very narrow range.

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