Invasion of the PODdy Snatchers
I was going to say something about Amazon.com’s recent decision to require companies that print books using print-on-demand technology to use Amazon’s POD printing subsidiary Booksurge in order to retain the one-click buy button on a book’s product page, but I really couldn’t care less. I have no dog in this fight. I’ve been amused by the apocalyptic hysteria Amazon’s move has produced in the community of self-published writers.
What I find more interesting is that there are writers who harbor a fantasy that some combination of POD technology, the Espresso POD printing machine and ebooks are going to transform traditional publishing. I really don’t feel inclined to undertake a long analysis of why I think this is ignorant and laughable. I’ve commented many times about aspects of this on various literary blogs.
When writers, especially frustrated writers, talk about transforming publishing, what they’re really talking about is changing the way that manuscripts are selected for publication. Though I’ll wager that we’ll never see an Espresso book machine in every Barnes & Noble store, their ubiquity wouldn’t change the way books are published (note: published, not printed).
MP3s and the online music model for distribution is pretty mature now. It is possible for a musician or group to offer their music for sale without the agency of a record label. Still, where is the Cinderella story of a completely unknown performer or group becoming famous by placing their music online and being discovered without the benefit of a significant marketing campaign?