Independent Publishers: Who Needs Them?

On reading John Naughton‘s article ‘Publishers take note: the iPad is altering the very concept of a ‘book’‘ in the Observer last month, it occurred to me some interesting questions were being raised.

“There will always be “books”. The question now is: will there always be publishers?” was one that particularly stood out, as you can imagine. I suppose to fully answer this question we need to first fully analyse what it is exactly publishers (like ourselves) do.

We create books. We edit manuscripts, obtain/source/design book covers, create page layouts and select fonts. But anyone can do that really. Making a book is easy. Relatively. Anybody can, if they choose to do so, create a book in a digital format or otherwise (with the use of Print On Demand (POD) for example) that can be distributed easily via the internet for a price.

It’s certainly true that devices like the iPad and Kindle are making this practice even easier, eliminating the set-up costs of actual, physical paper. So anybody can produce a book and make it available to the world. And why shouldn’t they?

So what’s the point in publishers? I guess what we rely on publishers for is plain and simple and old-fashioned; as both consumers and authors we rely on publishers for their judgement and ability to find the right market for the right book.

We rely on them as a trusted brand and friend – one who can recommend a good read. Recommend it so much that they’ll stake their own name and reputation on it. A pilot if you will, in a sea of information that’s becoming increasingly deep and difficult to navigate as the digital revolution continues to evolve.

Will there always be publishers? As long as people write books, there will be someone there to help those books find someone to read them.

Daniel Marsh

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