The ecology of publishing is changing.
In the Industrial Age, books were printed and bound in quantitites. They were then transported, stored, distributed and stacked. It was an expensive and fairly complex process, but essentially the same as any sort of manufacturing industry.
That still goes on, of course. But new technology has allowed alternative publishing models to thrive. Now, a writer can register online with a print-on-demand company. He or she can then create two files (one for the inside of the book, one for the outside) and send them to the printers. A bar code or "ISBN" on the book means that all the relevant details can then be displayed by online booksellers, such as the mighty Amazon. When the book is ordered, the message goes out to the printers, and a copy is printed, bound, packaged and sent out. Overheads ... practically nil.
And then there are ebooks. Once a book has been written, edited, formatted and converted into the right kind of file, the sky is the limit here. Any number of ebooks can be sold and instantly despatched to ebook readers at no real cost. There aren't any production overheads: as long as the consumer has a Kindle, a tablet, a computer, an ebook reader, then the book can be "produced" for free. Which means that most of the profits go straight to the author.
What this means is that a whole new publishing industry has developed. Gone are the old, painful processes of acquiring agents, approaching publishers, piles of rejection letters, long waits and tiny royalties. Publishing can now be almost instantaneous. Everything is in the hands of the writer now.
But what about the reader? Well, there's suddenly a lot more choice out there. And most books published by the new methods are considerably cheaper to buy than those which have gone through the traditional process. A newly published ebook, or nicely-produced print-on-demand copy, can be purchased for - what? - about $3 maybe.
When there's an explosion of new product, readily accessible at relatively low cost, a new form of marketing has to emerge. The old system relied on the marketing contacts, resources and budgets of the publishing houses. The new system relies on networking, social media and recommendations.
Reviewing books is effectively the new trend. It's about the only way that a reader and prospective purchaser can decide whether or not they want to try out a new book. And this year, reviewing is taking off in a BIG way. I've just received a new hardback novel to review for one of my favourite historical websites (those lovely Historical Honeys), and will soon be getting a couple more to review from the fascinating Moon Books stable.
Authors are going to be spending a lot more of their time reviewing other authors' books, because we can no longer rely on the traditional marketing methods. Now, we do it ourselves.
So ... it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of a new blog dedicated to reviews of new books, along with author interviews, competitions and prize giveaways. This REVIEW blog grew out of a very active and exciting Facebook group, and such has been the interest in the new REVIEW group blog that the official launch party has been extended from a week to a fortnight!
Please pop over and have a look. My day is Day 6 - Thursday - and I'll be giving away a free signed copy of Who Killed William Shakespeare? to go with my own blogpost about historical fact and fiction.
This is how we do things nowadays. The old media are lumbering along. New media is where publishing is really happening.