Well, it looks like we escaped the rapture. That would be a tragedy; just think of how that might reduce the audience of potential book buyers. Okay, maybe not by much. But after reading several items over the past few weeks (and getting a little query weary -- more on that soon), I'm starting to wonder if the world of traditional publishing is heading for the cliff. Here's the evidence that indeed it might be:
1. Amazon just announced that its eBook sales now surpass all print book sales: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/amazon-ebook-sales-surpas_n_864387.html For every 100 print books sold, Amazon sells 105 eBooks
2. Over at the Passive Voice blog (www.thepassivevoice.com), the Passive Guy posted a detailed analysis of the breakdown of royalties an author may receive from traditionally published books and eBooks: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/04/2011/who-makes-the-most-money-indie-author-vs-traditional-author/. Take a look, and then you do the math.
3. The eReport published an article this winter highlighting the precipitous decline of print sales, nearly 25% in all trade categories combined. At the same time, eBooks have exploded by over 200%. For the discouraging (or encouraging, depending on your point of view) rundown, check out the article: http://activitypress.com/2011/04/19/us-publisher-upheaval-ahead-as-print-book-sales-see-sharp-decline/
4. Now famous (if he wasn't before) Barry Eisler just turned down a $500,000 deal with a traditional publisher to sing along with Fleetwood Mac and go his own way. And the blogosphere is on fire: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/ebooks-and-self-publishing-dialog.html and http://blog.nathanbransford.com/
5. Agent Ted Weinstein expressed his concern to the Wall Street Journal that the traditional roles of agents and publishers are shifting: “When you have widespread electronic distribution of books, whether e-books or print-on-demand, all of the barriers of entry disappear,” said Ted Weinstein, a San Francisco literary agent. WSJ likens the change to a seismic shift. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/e-books-causing-seismic-shift-in-publishing-2011-05-26?link=kiosk
It's enough to give an aspiring author much to think about. Go Indie? Keep querying? Will the traditional book world and its gatekeepers be rendered irrelevant players in a brave new world of literary democracy? Or does this landslide threaten to break down the floodgates and deluge us all in a torrent of mediocre offerings?