Sunday, March 16, 2014

Indie News: A Time for Segregation?

If the self-pubishing craze continues to grow as it has done, next year 50% of ebooks will be self-published or indie titles. And now, some bloggers are saying they should be separated from the traditionally published books. In fact, one says it's time to start segregating them. 

Talk About Shopworn...

If history counts for anything, segregation of anything doesn't really work. When it comes to people, forced separation leads to resentment. When it comes to products, the market usually ends up choosing for itself.

But to play Devil's advocate, there are reasonable points to the argument. The blogger calling for the change points out that many books with very adult themes can appear online inside inappropriate categories, and self-published titles may be listed right along with more traditional books. The blogger says plainly that ebookstores must separate the "good" authors from the "bad." According to him, "good" authors earn a living solely through writing books and "bad" ones do not.

It's flawed logic and a bad argument, to put it diplomatically, that self-published titles should be separated from more traditional fare. Traditional publishers don't decide what readers should read -- the readers decide. This is called the open market, and it's been a celebrated cornerstone of world economy for centuries. Books are presented in lists to readers, and they pick the ones they like. Maybe they choose indie titles like Fifty Shades of Grey or traditional titles like The Hunger Games, but they get to choose. Books are already sorted by genre, price and content. Why should they be segregated based upon publisher as well?

At the end of his piece, the blogger warns that self-published titles will destroy all bookstores. But some nervous Nelly probably said the same of indie films, movies made without Hollywod's big-budget theatrics and studios, and they haven't ruined the movie industry. But at least me and this other blogger can agree on one thing: self-publishing is very powerful. I just don't think it's also destructive.

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