Right now, Amazon, which really opened up the possibilities for independent authors with its invention of the Kindle (the first really usable e-reader) and Kindle Direct Publishing (Smashwords also gets credit for starting the independent author revolution, but it was Amazon that brought it mainstream) is involved in difficult negotiations with one of the Big 5 publishers (Hachette). The news media (which in large part is owned by the same giant international comglomerates that own the Big 5 publishers) has been in an anti-Amazon frenzy, spouting out ridiculous claims about how Amazon means the end of literature and ideas and civilization and life the universe and EVERYTHING!!!
Passive Guy is an IP (intellectual property) and contracts lawyer with a special interest in independent writing and publishing and in the disruptive technology and business practices that make this revolution possible. His blog is a must-read for independent authors. Here is part of his response to the frenzy:
As independent authors arise, empowered by Amazon’s democratic commons of ideas, PG says we’re looking at a renaissance of American literature, an upheaval that is shoving the suits out and putting authors back in charge of the art they create.
Despite the dying spasms of Big Publishing, the wall between writers and readers is coming down. Uncontrolled and unmediated ideas are being released into the wild, giving readers the opportunity to decide which will flourish.
Whether the path out of corporate serfdom comes via Amazon or someone else, authors who have discovered the freedom that comes with owning and controlling the fruits of their labors are not going back to the plantation.
For readers, the independent author revolution means more books, less expensive books, a wider variety of books – not just what the sales departments at the publishing companies decide they can market, access to previously out-of-print books whose authors have gotten their rights back (often at great time, expense, and stress), continuation of series that were cancelled by publishers, easier and more convenient access to books in a variety of formats, and closer interaction with authors. Big publishing does not see readers as their customers; their customers are the book distributors and the big chain bookstores. The independent author revolution is good for readers, good for authors, good for everyone except those with a vested interest in preserving the old, bloated, exclusionary, wasteful way of doing things.