It was definitely the year that electronic books (eBooks) came into-their-own as a successful commercial media format. It was also the year that the competing standards for eBook formatting became less daunting with the release of a number of applications that do most of (but not all) the work of conversion from one format to another.
In 2011 we saw major upheavals and reorganisations in traditional publishing, the after-shocks of which are still rippling throughout the industry. It was the year that some authors began to seriously question the need for either agents or publishers.
Given the state of the industry and amount of time and expense many authors found themselves putting into publication formatting, editing and marketing and the rise of the internet as a marketing tool and P.O.S. (Point-Of-Sale) facility, it began to make economic sense for some to become their own publishers.
As a result of this we saw small presses blossom forth like wildflowers, the number of new P.O.D. (Print On Demand) publishing services multiply… and like weeds on a lawn we also saw many old publishing scams reborn in new guises.
It was the year that traditional publishing was called to account for itself. The traditional royalty rates and the methods that were used to calculate them; both long demonised as throwbacks from the dark-ages of publishing, were brought into question… in public, and it was not a pretty sight.
It was also the year that traditional publishing began to find gold in them-thar backlists and were forced to litigiously defend their rights to control those assets and publish them in eBook and other media formats as yet undefined.
Traditional publishers also found themselves competing against the traditional gatekeepers when a number of agent-agencies spawned their own publishing arms and began to compete for the rights to their own client’s works, many of which were on those very same back-lists.
2011 was the year when traditionally published authors began self-publishing… or at least experimenting with it as a venue for work outside the genres they are typically known for, and some self-published authors managed to gain the interest and attention of traditional publishing houses.
The year saw the demise of Borders Books and several other mainstream sales venues, and Amazon beginning its assault on the publishing industry by becoming a publishing house while at the same time undercutting Independent booksellers.
2011 was the year that authors rights were defended against Google and others attempts to electronically copy libraries full of books and thereby own the rights to print and sell paper and electronic copies of those works to libraries and others without recompense to the authors involved.
All this and much more happened in this past year, leaving one to wonder where the industry is headed and what is in store for the coming year. I’m not an oracle and I don’t have a crystal ball, but my gut tells me it will be an interesting year.
And once again, many doomed books-in-print as dinosaurs of a dying age… but you still don’t have to turn-off that book-in-print because it might affect aircraft navigation and control systems during take-off and landing operations.
Meanwhile, Happy Year-In-Writing 2012, and we’ll see you here next January to look at the-state-of-the-state-of-the-industry.