Self-Publishing News You Can Use: Changes

by | Apr 16, 2011

Goodbye Flip

Cisco Systems discontinued sales of the Flip camera, the tool that revolutionized mobile video. Was Flip being rendered obsolete by the iPhone and Android phones with their always-ready HD video? We’ll never know, but it’s the end of an era for those who used and loved—or tolerated—it’s stripped-down approach to video.

Hello Matte!

Lightning Source, the dominant provider of print on demand (POD) books to the book industry, announced it will for the first time supply covers with matte lamination. It will be available on perfectbound paperbacks, casebound books and jacketed hardcovers in many trim sizes. Here’s the Matte Lam Factsheet.

This is of particular interest to self-publishers. Until now the major suppliers of POD have only offered gloss lamination, and “POD books” are sometimes recognized as such by the covers. I’ve had clients specify that they “don’t want those shiny POD covers” but there hasn’t been much choice.

I haven’t seen a sample of the new lamination yet, but matte lam is a favorite for many books I print offset, so I’m excited to have a look.

The 800-Pound e-Gorilla

A rather stunning report came out from the Publishing industry trade group, the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

First, they reported that in February of this year, for the first time, e-books had more sales than any other format in trade publishing. E-books grew 169% while all printed trade books sales fell by 24%.

Worst hit? Adult Trade categories including hardcover, paperback and mass market books were down 34.4% That’s a bloodbath. Many businesses could not survive a drop in sales of 35%. No wonder the bookstores are closing.

The good news about e-books extends even further:

“Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author’s full backlist.”—Association of American Publishers

So e-books are actually stimulating readership, but moving those readers farther into the e-backlist, which is good news for authors with books that have become available in e-book formats. There are still lots of books unavailable in e-formats.

Add to this picture the fact that it’s likely none of the self-published books have been included in these statistics. These figures come from trade publishers.

What this means is that there are probably a lot more e-books being sold than the AAP knows about.

I remain convinced that this is the best time in history to be an independent author, a content creator, someone who can ship. The Golden Age of self-publishing means publishing power is in the hands of the creators. It will change everything. In fact, it already has; reality just has to catch up.

A Self-Publishing Companion by Joel FriedlanderTo take advantage of these opportunities, you need to be educated and prepared. I wrote A Self-Publisher’s Companion to explain the world of self-publishing to authors thinking about getting into print or e-books. With the rise of print on demand technology and the coming of e-books, it’s time for every author to consider taking control of their publishing destiny. There’s no reason for writers to postpone their writing career any more.

Tom Evans, The Bookwright, who generously hosted me on his Barefoot Book radio show, said: “This is an amazing book which, in my opinion, is the new bible for both authors and publishers who want to get in print and share their message with the world.”

A Self-Publisher’s Companion is now available in:

paperback from Amazon
or from Barnes & Noble
as a Kindle e-book, and
as a Nook Book.

You can use the links to find out more. Thanks!

resources for self-publishers

Photo by Matt from London

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Brian Bordenkircher

    I find it facinating how fast the publishing industry has already changed, but I can only imagine what it will be like in 20 years from now.. What will libraries be like? What will it be like to self publish in 20 years from now? If there are many more authors in 20 years due to potentially cheaper publishing options will the advertising costs per book increase? Will the price of paper books be 3 to 4 times as much as paper books become more of a “classic” version, collector’s edition? I’m curious of your thoughts. There will be so many changes in the years to come!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Brian, thanks for the thoughtful comment. There is so much change going on right now, and the direction in which technology will take the book business is so uncertain that I’ve mostly limited myself to speculation about the next few years, which seems daunting enough. But I’m interested in what the future looks like to you, and what the fate of books will be.

  2. James Byrd

    Things are going to change very quickly now. As you say, the book stores are in the middle of a bloodbath. 35% drop in sales? Mike Shatzkin believes that most book stores couldn’t survive a 15% drop in business. Most book stores are frantically trying to diversify their business, but for many it is too late already.

    The implications of this shift in the market are profound. We’ll see rapid development of better ebook publishing tools and reading devices. POD will become the dominant source of print books, and the technology will have to improve to match the demand (matte finish is an example of how that’s happening now.)

    I posted on Twitter yesterday that I predict print rights will be subsidiary by the end of 2012. I got laughed at for saying that last month.

    Meanwhile, Big Publishing has been busily fitting a noose around its neck by continuing business as usual. The chair they are standing on is built from book store distribution, and when that chair is kicked out from under them, they won’t have time to slip out of the noose. I also agree with Mark Coker, who believes authors will contribute to the doom of Big Publishing when they take control of their own destinies by self publishing in one form or another (that too is already happening.)

    Oh, and here’s another prediction: Borders is going down. This reorganization of theirs is getting nowhere fast, and there’s no way they can implement a a recovery plan in the midst of a double-digit drop in business. But Borders won’t be alone. They’ll be joined this year by others, I’m sure.

    • Joel Friedlander

      James, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I think at this point we’ve entered the stage where we can clearly see there is no going back to the way things worked before, but we still don’t have any clear picture of what they will look like next.

      The move from physical books to e-books is so radical that it’s not surprising many people are trying to re-create the print book within the e-book universe. Not sure how well that will work out.

      But better tools and better devices? Sign me up!

      And print as a sub right, yes, that is the direction, isn’t it? Hang onto your hats, it’s going to be a wild ride.

  3. Carol Costello

    Great news about matte lam! Reading most blogs on self-pub and internet marketing is like cod liver oil–gotta do it, but it’s not particularly fun. Yours is like double chocolate brownies with raisins. I come away informed (matte lam!) and inspired (yesterday’s guest blog by Tara Woolpy) and actually look forward to it! Thanks!

    • Joel Friedlander

      Cod-liver oil, that’s a pretty good one, Carol. Thanks for your kind words, and I’m very glad to have you as a reader.



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