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.