The onset of the Internet Age has, and will continue to, decentralize the publishing business, exactly as it has the record business. Remember when there were just a few major record companies? They had all the big action, all the big artists, and all the money. If you wanted to make a mark as a recording artist, you had no choice but to get with one of them.

Now…the record business is in shambles, scrambling for its very existence. Because of sophisticated recording software, bands and songwriters can produce their own albums and distribute them themselves via well-constructed internet platforms. In addition, they tour in order to hype these albums. Many more albums are being produced than ever before, almost none of them with blockbuster sales figures, but the small, unknown artist who once had no shot with a major label is now enjoying modest success instead of guaranteed eternal oblivion.

This effectively created a direct line from the artist to the consumer. Independent record stores were quickly swept aside, leaving only the big chains, whose inventory and customer base continued to shrink until the chains, too, are disappearing.

Any of this sound familiar?

Well, like good music, good stories will never go away. Navel-gazers may wonder which sub-genre will pull to the forefront. What will happen to the PI novel? The hardboiled?  The cozy? The real answer is, there’s going to be more of everything, thanks to POD technology and ePublishing, among other things. It’s quite likely that little or none of this new writing will sell in the Stephen King stratosphere, but who cares? More writers will be published, read, and encouraged to continue writing. And one day, who knows what might happen to any of them?

Once shunned by big publishers and published authors alike, POD and ePublishing are now being quietly embraced by them. Publishers see value in starting up POD and ebook divisions: they can throw untried writers out at the market for a tiny fraction of the cost of going hardcover. If one or two of them catch on, they make money. After all, the next Michael Connelly is out there somewhere, slaving away over his computer, and this is a pretty cheap way of finding him. Meanwhile, small POD presses and ePublishers are sprouting up all over the landscape.

For the hopeful writer, good writing and perseverance are the key elements.

A professional is simply an amateur who didn’t quit.

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  1. Donald Riggio

    I found this article most interesting, espcially since my novel “Seven-Inch-Vinyl” is about the music business circa 1953-1969. I found your comparisons to the publishing industry to be write-on.

  2. Thanks, Don. My only hope is that the bookstores don’t disappear the way the record stores did. I miss being able to hold an LP or a CD in my hand.

  3. Aaah… the days of poring over the photographs, artwork, and liner notes of a new record album. As for the publishing world goes, in the words of the brilliant philospher, Yogi Berra, “The future isn’t what it used to be.”

  4. Right Linda. Or, as I am fond of saying, “My whole future is behind me.”

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