A team of researchers from the University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS) has been studying non-traditional publishing for the past five years. They recently published their results and a few of their observations and findings seem to confirm what we have heard from others. These apply to individuals publishing one or two books as well as corporate publishers:
- The stigma of self-publishing is diminishing.
- The public is responding to lower prices by buying more books.
- Self-published books are popular (30 of the top 100 paid sellers on Amazon are self-published).
- Quality tends to be lower among self-published books (“inconsistent writing and grammatical errors”)
One quote stood out to me and it has to do with the variety of material:
“Self-help books on subjects from exercise to grieving were written by people with considerable experience. Authors wrote convincingly about local events, stories and history that would probably never interest mainstream publishers.” -Jana Bradley, a SIRLS professor.
My second take-away from the release has to do with the fact that readers are increasingly driving the market. Readers no longer have to be satisfied with what the traditional publisher releases. Narrowly focused books by authors with expert backgrounds are finding a market.
To this last point, how are these books finding a market?
When it comes to marketing the researchers observe that the decline of traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines is being replaced by a rise in alternative media that offer their own reviews, “amateur editorials” and social media.
Exactly the kind of marketing that self-publishers understand, and can afford.