Before I began to blog about books I didn’t know very much about the self-publishing industry at all. When I first began my great love affair with books, reading such classics as The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High, there was only one way to read them. This meant that I never had enough new books to read because I always read them much more quickly than my parents were prepared to take me to the shops or library to find a new one.
While I was growing up, though, the world was starting change. Throughout my teens and twenties the world was rapidly becoming more and more digitized each year until the point that we’re at right now, in 2015, where almost any form of entertainment that you can possibly imagine, including books, is available online.
I am now a student of Internet Communications and over the course of my studies we talk a lot about the effects that digitization and also convergence have had on many different industries. A very clever man called Henry Jenkins describes what convergence means best, so I will let him explain it to you.
By convergence, I mean the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted. Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes, depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about. In the world of media convergence, every important story gets told, every brand gets sold, every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms. Right now, convergence culture is getting defined top-down by decisions being made in corporate boardrooms and bottom-up by decisions made in teenagers’ bedrooms. It is shaped by the desires of media conglomerates to expand their empires across multiple platforms and by the desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want…. Jenkins, 2006
I’ve read many interesting and informative articles and participated in many lectures about the effects of digitization and convergence on the television, film, and gaming industries, but there really isn’t much out there about the publishing industry. And when self-publishing does get mentioned it always seems that most people have the impression that all self-published novels are terrible, full of typos and unprofessional which seems to be a legacy from when the only option for self-publishing used to be through a Vanity Press.
I may have even believed the same thing myself if I wasn’t lucky enough to have stumbled upon so many fabulous self-published authors this year! I have to admit that some of the self-published novels that I’ve read have been pretty terrible, but this is the case in any participatory culture. Just because everybody is able to be an author doesn’t mean that everybody should be an author but I have also discovered an increasing amount of absolutely amazing self-published authors who go to an incredible amount of effort to publish their books.
So, I’m going to use ‘Self-Publishing Talk’ as a space to discuss my thoughts on digitization and convergence and the ways that writing, distributing and consuming books are changing. As always, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and you can check out my latest book reviews over on the main blog page.
Update: 06/11/15 I have edited and re-posted this post as a standard blog post