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Amazon and Self-Publishing – Let the Buyer Beware
4/13/2012  •  Comment


In recent weeks, I’ve been coming across articles about kids who are published authors.  One article in the New York Times featured kids with parents who had coordinated what used to be called vanity publishing for their kids.  Another was a public school system feel-good press release about a classroom project in which kids had “published” their writing.  What treacle.

In all the brouhaha over ebook pricing structures, there are a lot of romantic visions of writers producing bargain-priced, high-quality work once the vulture-like publishers are out of the picture.  As someone who is willing to pay for quality but who has been called upon to find cheap non-public domain ebooks for someone else, I can tell you that I’m grateful for the quality control that some publishers provide. 

I refer you to the blog posts of Curt Matthews, CEO of Independent Publishers Group /  Chicago Review Press (April 11 and April 9) for an illuminating briefing of what goes into getting books, electronic or print to market.  I probably will buy some books directly from IPG as well as independents like Gray Wolf and Purple House both because they sell great work and I want to make sure they survive.  That doesn't mean I'll stop buying print from Amazon though.  A huge part of Amazon's attraction for me has been their quick availability of books that are hard to find in brick and mortar stores.  I'll even funnel some purchases from smaller purchases through Amazon -- I don't want Amazon to narrow their selection to popular titles.

Like a lot of e-reader owners, I find myself reading more books since getting a Kindle than I have read in recent years.  However, I’ve probably spent more on print titles than on ebooks, for many of the reasons cited in this Pew research report.  In fact, some of my reasoning for choosing print over electronic has been my lack of confidence that ebook retailers will serve discriminating readers well in the future.  I’m reluctant to invest very much money in a Kindle library.

Tags: Amazon, self-publishing, vanity publishing, acquisitions editors, quality control, editorial process, reading habits, independent publishers