The publishing industry has shifted from a one-sided form of communication that was dictated by the mainstream media to one where almost anybody can participate. Book culture is now a participatory culture and this means that anybody who reads, writes, or publishes books is experiencing these changes in some form.
Changes to reading books
The two biggest changes are obviously E-books and online book retailers like Amazon. With E-readers we now have the technology to store an infinite amount of books and we can take them with us anywhere we go. Online book retailers allow us to purchase almost any book we like with the click of one button and can deliver it to our devices instantly. Readers will never have to worry about running out of books again!
Along with an increase in the choice of books comes the problem of deciding which books to read. The rise of book blogs and ratings platforms such as Goodreads solves the issue of choice by allowing readers to take advantage of the collective intelligence of all members to help them decide whether a book is worth reading.
Now readers are also able to participate in the conversation about the books they read. Any time that you ‘like’, ‘tweet’, review, or post about a book you are adding to the story around it. Instead of a read only culture book culture is now a read/write culture.
Changes to writing books
Self-publishing has made it much easier for authors to get their books out there. Writers now have much more control over their books and a greater share of their book sales but now have to take care of things such as marketing, copyright laws, cover designs, editing and proof-reading. I cannot stress how vital professional editing and proof-reading are for self-publishers!
There is now also the expectation that authors need to have an online presence and actively engage with their readers. How active you choose to be on social media is a personal choice but it is worth pointing out that even well-established best sellers like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Anne M. Martin are active on Twitter.
Changes to publishing books
The increase of self-publishing has led to more competition for traditional publishing houses, but there are also some benefits. Publishing, marketing, and distribution costs are much lower now than they were previously and the Internet has opened up opportunities for publishers to reach a global market. There is also a lot more opportunities for professional editors and proof-readers to work on a freelance basis.
Update: 06/11/15 I have edited and re-posted this as a standard blog post