Sunday, January 15, 2012

The End of the "Dr. No" Gatekeepers

Physicist/attorney Jerome Rubin said in 1989 that technology would make the printed book obsolete. He died a few days ago, at a time when people are buying over 1 million e-readers a month.

He was right. I have seen the change first hand.

In 1990, I had written a fiction book whose plot line would become real while I was in the process of trying to get published --a flash war in the Middle East involving Saddam Hussein and a terror attack on the U.S.

To get it printed I found out I first had to get an agent (preferably in New York) who dealt with fiction. Then the agent had to try to find a publisher to print it. The process would take a year I was told. In the end we found a publisher but they declined to print it.

Why? They reasoned that after the Gulf War of 1991 Saddam Hussein would be "out of power within a year" so the book by an unknown author would not be timely or worth the risk to print it. (Never mind that Saddam was around for another ten years, as it turned out). The costs of binding it, transporting it and trying to sell it were too high to justify. So I dropped it.

Fast forward to 2012, and a whole new world predicted by Mr. Rubin. I'm preparing to release a nonfiction book I've had in manuscript form for the past two decades. Since it doesn't involve ax murderers or a sex scandal I figured it would not attract a print publisher. However, this time I am releasing it as an e-book.

With an e-book, I discovered that I don't need an agent - or a printer. All I needed was a good editor to go through it, a cover designer to produce an attractive thumbnail, and someone to then put the book in "HTML" code: one for Kindle and another for the Nook and the Ipad. That's it! Cost? About $300.

When that is done (in the next day or two) all I will need is to go to the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites and upload the book. Viola! I have been published! No gatekeepers saying "no."

It is a revolutionary democratization of publishing unlike anything the world has seen. My e-book won't need to be trucked anywhere. Almost magically it can be distributed internationally in the blink of an eye to billions of potential readers via their computers, Nooks, Kindles, Ipads, Smartphones, etc.

My e-book will kill no trees. Nor will it take a year to be printed, hauled around to distributors and placed on bookshelves where it would be lost among hundreds of thousands of other books crying out for attention.

In the e-book world, the author can even set his/her own price! My e-book will generate a royalty which can be 70% of the sales price at Amazon, if the e-book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99, a fraction of the cost of a printed book. Even at $2.99 the royalty will yield the same author's fee as a $20 printed book.

People will hesitate to spend $20 on a book, but not $2.99, so it makes it easier for a new author to attract readers to become established. There is no risk of books getting dusty on the bookstore shelves. Amazon and Barnes & Noble will even pay electronically via PayPal, so the whole process is automated.

In the brave new world of e-books, all I have to do is what any author has to do with any book - marketing. And the Internet makes that easier than it was in 1990 as well -- not to mention social media like Facebook.

Mr. Rubin was a futurist who saw what has become real. Technology has made the printed newspaper and book obsolete. Most of us get our news off the Internet, not from fumbling through the morning newspaper. E-books and the Internet have made it possible for the little guy who isn't an established author to have a shot at publishing success.

Unlike 1990, there are no more "Dr. No" gatekeepers. If you have something to say, there are no more barriers to getting it published -- other than the author's commitment to put pen to paper, or more accurately, electrons into a word processor.

Better Times Ahead: April Fool? Surviving a Layoff on a Global Scale will be available -- any day now -- at the website:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments from real people welcome. The only comment rule is "BE CIVIL." Let's discuss SOLUTIONS based on real FACTS.

Thanks for your feedback! Click "Subscribe" or "Follow" for notification of future posts. Feel free to Share with your friends.