The Electronic Publishing Revolution


In the opening chapter of Olivia Goldsmiths' novel The Bestseller, the main character, a writer, receives twenty-six rejection letters and promptly hangs herself. Written in 1996, the premise is almost laughable today. The Electronic Publishing Revolution is here and writers no longer need to rely on a handful of publishing powerhouses to get their books into the hands of thousands of hungry readers.

Any revolution begins with a small group of individuals who are fed up with the tyranny of those in power. Throughout the literary world, the cry is being heard loud and clear as the Internet on-line publishing services become the voice of the oppressed writer.

Ever since the invention of the written word, publishing has been a long, tedious and sometimes painful process. It may take months, sometime years, to complete a novel; even longer to find an agent. The agent then submits the manuscript to a group of editors at major publishing houses, who could hold onto it for months. It takes only one editor to kill it.

With buy-outs and mergers, the number of publishers has diminished rapidly over the past decade. And with that, the opportunity for writers to have their work published diminished as well. The odds of being published became almost as slim as winning the lottery. Until the miracle of the Internet began to turn the tide.

What the printing press and the copier did for writers of the paper and quill age, the Internet and electronic publishing will do for aspiring authors in the new millennium. Ebooks, books that are published in CD-Rom or 3-1/2" floppy disk format, are growing in number, especially in the fiction market. Ebookstores, such as, list over three hundred titles, with more being added every month.

Production costs are low so that the average price of an ebook is much more affordable than typical hard cover or even paperback releases. With the introduction of Ebook readers early this year, text books and encyclopedias that used to take up shelf space and weigh several pounds can now be stored and transported in a small carry case and read anywhere. Ebook pages can also be downloaded and printed from any computer and read in hard copy format.

Print-On-Demand is another publishing innovation that saves time, space and trees. When a book is ordered from an on-line store, such as, the publisher prints and mails the book, usually within twenty-four hours. This eliminates huge inventory costs and awards greater royalties for the author.

But the greatest benefit of this new industry is the freedom it allows both the writer and the bibliophile. No longer will authors be at the mercy of a handful of agents and an even smaller handful of publishers for their works to be read. For the first time in the history of publishing, the writers are in control. And the literary community is now free to discover a wide variety of wonderful literature, exceptional writing, and a diverse selection of authors who have been kept silent.

Best sellers will no longer be decided by an elite group of publishers. Millions of people from around the world will now have instant access to thousands of titles, in hundreds of categories, from sources that would never have been able to publish with conventional methods. New genres are being created everyday. Where, in a typical bookstore, would you find Erotic Science Fiction? Even today's mega- bookstores would have to be the size of a small city to be able to hold all the titles that will soon be available through this new publishing medium.

The Electronic Publishing Revolution is here. The battle cry has been sounded and the literary community will never be the same.


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