Study Hall: University of Arizona Study analyzes the wide world of self-publishing
“Self-publishing not only is changing the traditional publishing industry and the relationship between authors and editors, but also the ways readers are connecting with books.”
So say the results of a multi-year study lead by a research team at the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science (SIRLS).
The team breaks the world of self-publishing into two “major and different segments.” One is print-on-demand (POD), which they say came of age around 2007. The second segment, digital, is the faster growing of the two and is “often indistinguishable from digital mainstream publishing.”
The team studied a random sample of 348 books from the nearly 390,000 self-published titles available in 2008 through fee-based services like Lulu, AuthorHouse and iUniverse. They concluded that “self-published authors enjoy more freedom in making decisions about editing, design and marketing.” While this freedom can lead to errors due to author inexperience, it also contributed to the publication of a greater variety of subject matter, such as more regional or risqué topics, or family histories that would not have interested mainstream publishers. Study leader Jana Bradley says: “One major difference emerging is who makes the publishing decisions, pays the bills and gets most of the profits.”
Readers are being affected as well, as they turn more frequently to social media as the source of information about books. Their reward is “stories that wouldn’t have been told any other way.”
Full study results were recently published in The Library Quarterly (April 2012) and a detailed overview of the study can found in the online journal First Monday at firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3353/3030