Last Updated Jun 30, 2008 8:05 AM EDT
It's also a marketing model that is gaining broad sway -- use your customers to do your marketing. While self-publishing is anathema to authors, it can work: witness "What Color Is Your Parachute?" (here's a list of some other self-published successes
Will advances in printing and marketing techniques mean the publishing business can in effect reverse its model? The blog poster, Jackie Huba, doesn't give her opinion. Which is unfortunate, since she's written two books.
I'm not sure it will work. Points in its favor: the current system doesn't work well for most publishers -- see, for instance, Jason Epstein's "Book Business" (a review and summaries here, and see Epstein's essay on The Future of Books). Nor does it work for most authors -- even people with decent book sales tend to need a full-time job to support themselves. It is relatively inexpensive to self-publish now, and word-of-mouth makes sense -- most authors already have to do their own promotion.
Points against: both agents and editors can be invaluable to writers, and readers. A self-publishing system would probably damage those relationships. But to the point, it could well accelerate the death of today's publishing industry, just as it isn't clear that the big music companies will survive their industry's shift to a quasi-self-publishing model, either. That may not be a bad thing. But it wouldn't be reinventing the business.