The acclaimed fantasy author, Charles de Lint, writes a column, “Books To Look For.” In the May-June Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, he reviews Black Wolf by Steph Shangraw, published by Prysmeat Books. Yes, that’s an independent publisher.
De Lint writes: “I’m fascinated with the proliferation of independently published books. But before I get into the whys and wherefores, let me first say that I don’t dislike offerings from what’s coming to be referred to as legacy publishing (i.e., books printed and distributed by the big publishing houses). I just think there’s room for everybody. The more voices writing their own stories there are, the more choices there are for readers. And a lot of voices from a lot of different sources are a good thing, especially since I’m not all that sure legacy publishers will be around that much longer.
“Or at least not in their current state. Ebooks haven’t completely overtaken paper books yet, but the writing seems to be on the wall. It’ll be especially interesting to see what happens as the coming generations of readers—more accustomed to reading everything on a screen, from texts to websites to magazines and books—become the main consumers.
“Which doesn’t mean I think paper books will disappear. I see them becoming more like physical pieces of art, lovingly designed and published by small presses that will celebrate the physical aspect of a book as well as what lies inside its pages. But the days seem to be numbered for the cheap mass market paperback—the kinds of books that most people read once, then dispose of. Ebooks fit that bill as well, but the delete button on your reader is a lot easier to utilize than having to box up a bunch of physical books and then haul them down to your local thrift shop.
“All of which certainly helps indie publishers, many of whom are of that generation cited above: they’ve matured with technology as a normal part of their lives. There’s a growing movement among these young authors—savvy with technology in a way that their elders aren’t—to do it all on one’s own.. . . .
“The authors who decide to go the indie route do so for a number of reasons other than the fact that a legacy publisher isn’t interested in their work. . . . Sometimes the subject matter is simply too edgy—too violent, perhaps, or dealing with sexual/political/social elements that don’t fit the philosophy or style of the legacy publisher.
“But sometimes. . . . it’s simply not the kind of book a legacy publisher would be interested in. The pacing doesn’t match that of titles currently doing well in the marketplace. There might be too much description, or the plot moves in odd directions. . . .
“If an editor did work on a book like this, they’d probably cut a lot of what some might consider unnecessary description, subplots, and backstory. They’d rearrange the plot elements into a more linear narrative, with more forward drive.
“Which makes me glad there’s now a ready outlet for authors with a more idiosyncratic way of telling a story.”
So there you have it, my friends. Do you think legacy publishing is going to disappear and that small presses will take over the business? What about ebooks? The latest statistic in Publisher’s Weekly is that ebook sales growth is down, but I don’t know how that compares to print sales. And we’re still talking about a three hundred million dollar market for ebooks.
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