Facts are Free, Opinion is Priceless

So much creativity used to be stifled by the publishing industry. Now, with self published book sales overtaking the more traditional forms, the publishing industry is being dragged kicking and screaming into a new world order for the 21st century. Sara Bain, this week's guest poster, discusses the implications for us all. When facts are freely available on the internet, informed opinion is priceless.

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Facts are Free, Opinion is Priceless

by Sara Bain

Sarah Bain opinion is priceless blog post graphicWith the likes of Amazon re-defining the concept of publishing and turning the industry on its head, more and more new authors are springing from the slush piles of traditional publishing houses to boldly go to e-book and print – a new frontier where quality is argued to be the victim of quantity.

The coming of the digital age brought many changes to many different business models. Some embraced those changes and survived, while others have come on board too late and are desperately trying to find ways to catch that proverbial boat sailing away without them.

The invention of the digital photograph didn’t kill the photography industry, it just altered it. Camera and lens manufacturers have benefited from the change and turned everyone into a happy snapper to the detriment of professional photographers. Print companies have learned to change the ways in which photographs are presented and make their profits by producing photo books, posters and fancy art boards.

“The newspaper industry has been hit hard by digital technology”

The newspaper industry has been hit hard by digital technology with many long established titles folding while circulation figures are making the shape of a depressing downward spiral. More people than ever, however, are reading the news. They are just not buying newspapers when they can find the same or similar information for free on their computers, tablets and mobile phones.

There is a similar pattern emerging in the publishing industry. E-book sales on Kindle have overtaken that of printed copies and now everyone and anyone can be a published author, much to the detriment of the established publishing houses and literary agents.

There has been a lot of recent hysterical debate over whether the absence of a quality watchdog undermines the value of the publishing industry. Many traditional houses as well as published authors, of course, believe that the quantity of poorly edited, badly written, inadequately produced books that are flooding the markets on a daily basis are somehow damaging the integrity of a business that has told readers what they should read for eons.

“In August, there were 6,000 new books produced on Smashwords alone”

For a new author, there is a virtual slush pile emerging that has already reached mountainous heights and continues to climb. In August, there were 6,000 new books produced on Smashwords alone. The number on Kindle would be considerably higher. Out of this vast wash of titles, most would never have seen the light of day had their authors gone down the traditional publishing route, for most would have been rejected: many by way of rude silence owing to the prohibitive costs of postage and time on limited manpower.

The coming of the digital era has caused a shift in the dynamics between author and publisher relationships. It is readers who are making all the decisions on what they would like to read rather than be told what they should. This has come as a shock to an industry which has played Pied Piper for centuries and now publishers are stalking Amazon to see which self-published author is selling well and offering them deals: like the mountain landing on Mohammed’s lap.

Quantity has not killed quality, it has just provided a new-found freedom of choice to readers and now every author can have a shot at glory: proving irrefutably that public opinion is dictating market trends. That’s priceless.

Sara Bain's debut novel, The Sleeping Warror, is available from Amazon now.

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Facts are Free, Opinion is Priceless — 6 Comments

  1. ‘Quantity has not killed quality’ – one of the most reassuring points in your lucid picture of the world of publishing today. It also refutes a frequent criticism made by the traditionalists. Let the readers decide!

  2. Good to hear someone who knows the business describing it in a positive light rather than whinging about all these plebby people who are writing books and yet have no right to – at least according to those in publishing’s traditional old inner circle. Yes, there’s rubbish getting through but, as you say, Sara, the power is now where it should be – with the reader – and it’s up to the writer to deliver a product (I know, I know – awful terminology) which they want to read.

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