The Friday Buzz - Booksurge

Announcing a new tradition at The Literate Kitten! The Friday Buzz will examine one literary area – schools, fiction, genres, authors, booksellers, publishing, whatever – to report latest news and emerging trends.

Today, I’m taking a look at Amazon.com’s “books-on-demand” service, Booksurge. Have you seen this? According to the site, with Booksurge, “you can build a market for your books, create sales and control your books' trajectory while keeping your options wide open.”

Authors also, for $399, can buy a "personally crafted review" written by "New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Tanner Marsh." (Slate, of course, rips into this idea.)

The question isn’t, for me, whether or not Booksurge is a good idea. Like it or not, Amazon and the Internet are changing the face of publishing, and services like Booksurge are here to stay. With indie booksellers going down in the face of retail Goliaths and uber corporations swallowing publishers whole, the chances of becoming a published author slim down each day; why not give authors another venue to send their work into the world? And if a writer wants to shell out bucks for a “personally crafted” review (versus an objective one), well, caveat emptor.

To me, as both writer and reader, the issue is quality. Will Booksurge and similar self-publishing ventures disseminate valuable work that otherwise would not see the light of day? Surely, at some point, another Celestine Prophecy phenomenon will occur, making headlines for a new cause celebre and causing all sorts of speculation about the wonders and evils of self-publishing. But that’s simply pop-culture trendiness.

The real hallmark of quality is this: Will Booksurge lead a modern version of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses to rise above the drek to propagate new ideas that could lead to worldwide reform?

That’s the true power of the written word. And that would make Booksurge an agent of change, not just another pretty marketing tool.


Carl V. said...

Maybe its just me but I see only sinister things when looking at the idea that an author can 'buy' a review. I am sure this happens to some degree anyway and maybe I'm just being cynical.

iliana said...

Looking forward to the new friday topics LK. Just wanted to say that as many times as I go on Amazon a week (ok, a day) I haven't even noticed Booksurge. Self-publishing I have no problems with but the "personally crafted review"? That's, um, interesting.

LK said...

Well, all I can say is, if you pay for a review you are even a bigger schmuck than having to pay for your book to be published.

But maybe, with all of the imploding of book publishing, Booksurge and its ilk will provide a venue for radical or englightened (or heaven help us BOTH) ideas that vanilla publishers would otherwise shun.

Booksurge, the new Gutenberg Press?

danielle said...

I look forward to your new feature, too! This Booksurge is also new to me. I'll have to think about this one. I think there are good authors out there not getting published, and I know that "vanity presses" have also been around for a while. It is a matter of being able to find the really good stuff amongst the mediocre!

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

great idea! I'll be tuning in for sure!!


mandarine said...

There is something I do not get: why would I want to pay to be published by an internet-based system (booksurge) if I can just be published for free on the internet?
I mean, if Martin Luther could have done without paper...

Timothy Fish said...

I have used Booksurge to publish my book Church Website Design. I have already recovered my investment. Part of the reason I used this service rather than looking for a traditional publisher was because the book fit within such a niche market that I knew the publisher would either reject it because they could not recover the $10,000+ that it takes to publish a book or because the price of the book would have to be higher than I wanted my readers to be required to pay. Some of what gets published through Booksurge is worth reading. Some of it is filthy junk. As a Booksurge published author, I feel obligated to make my books available using the Search Inside feature on Amazon.com. I believe that my work is worth reading, but I want people to be able to make that determination before they purchase the book.