Revisiting the Popularity of Self-Publishing Because CNN Says So

3 minute read
Marisa Peacock avatar

The problem with having a niche, like content management, is that by the time news makes its way to the likes of CNN and Oprah, we've moved on. It can be frustrating that making headlines outside the CMS world garners more attention than all the articles, comments, blogs and tweets put together. When CNN reported the other day that "more authors turn to Web and print-on-demand publishing" we wanted to see for ourselves.

Back in January, we ran a similar story that indicated that "Companies that charge writers and photographers to publish are growing rapidly at a time when many mainstream publishers are losing ground." We relied on industry data from Bowker to tell us that more books were printed in 2008 than 2007 and it was attributed to an increase in the number of print-on-demand books.

It's been four months and we turned to some of those in the self-publishing industry to see what's going on.

The Power of Share-ability 

YouPublish, a company we talked about last year, then said that they aimed to "create a marketplace for the content that is uploaded, one in which the publisher makes a 50% commission on their sales." According to Steve Conlee, Marketing Director for YouPublish, in the past few months they've seen approximately 19% more site activity than their typical ongoing growth rate, including a 87% increase in digital publications for sale in the past few weeks. As well, they have recorded a 37% increase in new digital creations being offered (free and paid).

While they could attribute these increases to an economic recession or slump in traditional publishing, Conlee says that:

Learning Opportunities

The variety of digital creations we are seeing uploaded to YouPublish.com (textual, audio & video) leads us to believe that the activity may be partly due to an increase in people’s desire and ability to share, coupled with new technologies like YouPublish that make it easy for more and more regular people to share just about any type of digital creation they want.

Accessibility Breeds Adoption

Over at Issuu.com, an online publishing site where users can upload documents and turn them in professional online publications, enabling online reading experiences and a searchable library, they report a "dramatic increase in adoption" since their launch in December 2007.

Martin Ferro-Thomsen, Community Manager at Issuu.com says that "it may be that the challenges in the print industry is part of the reason we're seeing this boom in self-publishing, but it's also very much happening due to more accessible, affordable (free) and user friendly digital publishing services such as Issuu" adding that "digital publishing is just so much easier and fast."

So maybe the demise of print isn't driven by the economy as much as we thought. Perhaps it has more to do with how easy, productive, effective and affordable digital media is.

Of course that means that the shift in print media to new media is apart of a larger, more natural evolution than print publishers care to admit.

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