many people have heard of Amazon’s new wireless book and magazine reader,
Kindle. Kindle costs about $400, holds hundreds of books, magazines, and
newspapers, and is said to read more like a real book than other such devices.
Its pros and cons have been frequently discussed in mainstream media during
Less frequently mentioned, but perhaps more significant, is Amazon’s
self-publishing model – developed for the Kindle – called Digital Text Platform
(http://dtp.amazon.com/) or DTP. Amazon’s
DTP allows anyone to publish a book and then sell it to Kindle users. The entire
process, from uploading to Kindle and being available for sale at Amazon.com’s
Kindle Store can be done in about a day. The only requirements are to have a
title, an author’s name, and content. The author suggests the initial price for
the book, and Amazon keeps 65% of the purchase price for each copy sold. Authors
retain rights to publish the title again in print format.
Amazon’s self-publishing model highlights the booming personal book-publishing
trend. While Amazon’s platform is 100% digital, other companies have focused on
print publishing, where new technology has made it easier to publish
commercial-quality books in very small quantities. One company, Lulu (http://www.lulu.com), provides both print and
electronic self publishing. Lulu allows authors to print everything from a
single paperback book to electronic books, CDs, and videos. The cost to print a
single copy of a 200-page 6 x 9 inch paperback book is about $8.50, with
discounts for larger volumes. In addition, Lulu sells these books online,
printing them on demand and collecting commissions as they sell.
While Lulu provides a publishing platform for a wide variety of media, Blurb (http://www.blurb.com) sticks to physical books.
Blurb focuses on low-volume, bookstore-quality printing of art books, cookbooks,
photo books, and poetry books, in addition to more traditional books. Blurb is
more expensive than Lulu, but it still possible to print a single
professional-quality book for as little as $12.95, and their free bookmaking
software gives authors more design and formatting options up front.
All three of these self-publishing platforms make it possible for just about
anyone to publish a work. They do not offer the same customization features as
commercial printers, and their distribution and marketing models are completely
different from commercial publishers, but they are filling a market that is
growing significantly. In some ways, these products bring to books the same
self-publishing opportunities seen in other online venues such as blogging,
social networking and independent sharing of videos and music.