I'm thinking quite a bit about this precipice upon which mainstream publishing is now perched, and wondering if it might not be yet another instance of democracy in action. A decentralization of publishing, after all, will ensure that divergent material is offered. Not deviant. Just different. And I'm not the only one thinking this. Anne R. Allen posted a brilliant essay on her blog about this very topic.
She was responding to the ever-insightful Wall Street Journal's recent article about the woes we readers will face if the big pubs disappear (which they probably won't) or diminish in influence (which they definitely will). The article waxed prosaic about how dire things will be if we are forced to wade through the muck offered by the Kindle authors to find one good novel worth reading.
How considerate of WSJ to have our best interests at heart.
Right. Sell me a bridge while you're at it. Allen responded (as did a slew of folks seeking to set WSJ straight) with the simple observation that the shift to self-publishing has already led to more variety in the market. Rather than having one dystopian yarn after another catapulted to market before the ink is dry on the last one, or whatever the publishers have deemed to be what's hot today -- translation: whatever sold millions yesterday -- readers can access genres, themes, and stories that can't get to market via traditional means. This is a good thing. In fact, it looks a lot like freedom of choice.