Is Big Publishing finally reacting to the digital revolution? Conventional wisdom has it that traditional publishers are pitted against Amazon and that self-publishing is so successful that publishers are rapidly becoming superfluous.
Markus Dohle, CEO of the biggest publishing house in the world, Penguin Random House, begs to differ. He has just told the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest in the world, that:
1. cooperation with Amazon is essential: "Of course, we have to manage each other, on issues such as terms, but fundamentally, we are aligned."
2. self-publishing makes the role of publishers more important than ever: "people need orientation and guidance more than ever, and publishers can provide that."
Indeed, he sees "book discoverability" as the "the biggest challenge facing publishing", adding that a big publisher like Penguin Random House is "better placed on how to crack the code of discoverability, in a world where there are fewer bookstores".
I couldn't agree more and I have often blogged about how book discovery is the crux of the matter, especially in a world awash with self-published titles (see here, here and here). One major difference between a self-published author and a traditional publisher is that the former has no access to major literary journals and newspapers like the New York Times or major prizes like the Pulitzer Prize or Man Booker Prize, while the latter does, and how! The bigger the publishing house, the better...
What is your opinion? Is self-publishing for a writer who wants to reach his market really a working alternative to traditional publishing or is it just a mirage, fed by the personal pleasure of seeing one's book title on Amazon?