Scribd, JukePop, Smashwords Weigh In on Self-Publishing Panel in Palo Alto
Last week the Downtown Library in Palo Alto, Calif. hosted a panel discussion on the industry-wide transformations wrought by digital and self-publishing. The panel, entitled "Sea Change: The ePublishing Transformation," was made up of experts hailing from all corners of the industry. Panelists included:
- Rama Sadasivan, director of content acquisition at Scribd,
- Paula MacKinnon, Information Systems Project Manager at Contra Costa Library
- Holly Brady, self-publishing advisor and former director of Stanford Publishing Courses
- Jerry Fan, founder of JukePop, a crowd-testing e-serials platform
- Jim Azevedo, marketing manager at Smashwords
- Keith Raffel, author
Following are some key takeaways from the discussion.
1. Digital publishing has put power in the writers' hands.
Digital publishing is challenging the gatekeepers of content, said Holly Brady, a self-publishing advisor and former director of Stanford Publishing Courses. With digital self-publishing, the writer has direct control of the creation and distribution of his work. New tools are becoming available to allow writers to bypass traditional publishers and present their work to an audience. The author can also control the marketing and distribution of the book and how long it remains in "print".
The benefits are clear. The author retains a larger percentage of his royalties, and he can access niche markets that were not possible with publishers that sought broader appeal.
2. New tools and platforms can benefit publishers as well as authors.
JukePop's crowd-sourced platform is open to readers, writers, and publishers. Along with publishing serials one chapter at a time, the site aggregates readership data and reading behavior data, which can be valuable to publishers. JukePop tallies the number of readers that complete each chapter and records this data for the writer or publisher to view.
Rama Sadasivan director of content acquisition at Scribd described his company's business model as an all-you-can read buffet. By paying $9.00 a month, the reader has access to everything in the Scribd catalog and available on any device. The catalog contains content from self-publishing sites such as Smashwords, individual self-published authors, as well as traditional publishers such as HarperCollins. Scribd pays publishers and writers for the rights to distribute their work.