The global value of smaller and self-publishing companies was estimated at £7.3bn by the last Book Industry Study Group report, Under the Radar, with the self-publishing sector growing at 30% every year.
New technologies, such as e-books and podcasts, the rise of social networking sites and the availability and affordability of print on demand services, coupled with a growing awareness that it is possible and often more practical to ‘do it yourself’, mean that many people are foregoing the traditional route of agent and publisher. Danny Snow, co-author of U-Publish.com, points out the political-sociological aspects of this changing of the guard: ‘Once controlled by a power elite, the publishing industry is rapidly becoming dominated by everyday people who have something to say who were formerly excluded.’
Online publisher Lulu, now five years old, is at the heart of this publishing revolution. An average of 15,000 people a week register at the site, Lulu.com, which publishes around 4,000 titles a week and has a catalogue of 232,000 books, available either to download or buy as a physical book. Last year Lulu partnered with Borders to launch a personal publishing programme in the US. At selected stores would-be authors can go into interactive kiosks to create their own books for a few hundred dollars, and pay extra for editorial and marketing services. Many printers are now set up to produce good quality affordably in a digital format, so the options for potential writers have never been wider.
Given the demographic of a rapidly growing ageing population, who are increasingly technology-savvy, with more money, life experience and time on their hands than ever before, the boom times for self-published books look like they are here to stay.
THE WAIL by Jan Hartman
(Les Deux), £10
A baby starts crying in a crowded slum area of India, and before long the infant’s pained lament has spread throughout the world, so that all the poor and dispossessed cry as one... Published posthumously, The Wail is the final work of television scriptwriter, playwright and lecturer Jan Hartman. Original, visually arresting and ultimately a hymn to the possibilities of the good in human nature, The Wail belongs to the canon of peace literature, and is a worthy addition to that genre. To order contact Les Deux Publishers,
VIOLA by Barbara Orr
Viola is the powerful story of the author’s grandmother, born among the Dolomite mountains where the histories of Italy and Austria meet. Growing up against a backdrop of the simple beauty of a northern Italian village, with a deep familial love around her, Viola is forced to leave behind her family, her town and the man she has fallen in love with to emigrate to America with a man who is a virtual stranger to her. A testimony of strength and personal transcendence emerges; of how beauty enhances our lives, of the saving grace of love. This chronicle of a woman who lived a life that touched in its own humble way the lives of countless others, is a moving and affecting portrait. Download or order from Lulu.com
WABI-SABI FOR ARTISTS, DESIGNERS,
POETS & PHILOSOPHERS by Leonard Koren
(Stone Bridge Press), £11.99
First published by this small independent American publisher in 1994, Leonard Koren’s book on the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi remains the definitive book on the subject. With full control over design and artwork, Koren illustrates in words and pictures the philosophy that celebrates things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. The subject has spawned a plethora of books since this was published in 1994, but none have come so close to capturing the essence of wabi-sabi than Koren’s.
Order from Amazon.com