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March 28, 2018

With the big boom in self-publishing and the advent of many small presses, as it stands right now, one would think that things should be looking up for the independent author. For years, that’s been the case. For so long, the big six had the industry locked up and if you didn’t get in with a traditional publisher, you’d never see your book in print unless you went to a vanity publisher.

Because of the independent entrepreneurial spirit, small presses, on-demand, and early Amazon, the whole nature of publishing changed. Traditional publishers were put on notice. However, it wasn’t no cakewalk to get published with traditional before, and that still hasn’t changed much despite the shift toward independent publishing.

With the market for self-publishing and small presses, a whole new avenue has opened up the past few decades. The world is now flooded with thousands upon thousands of new books, from great to unprintable (but still printed anyway) tomes of every description.


Things started slow, then worked up until most recently, it’s become pretty easy to get your book out. It’s still up to you to make it worthy, but that doesn’t stop some people. As a result, there’s plenty of buyer beware out there. On the other hand, the only avenue for finding this stuff, good or bad, is either word-of-mouth, out of the trunk of the author’s car, or on-line (basically Amazon, though there’s also Create Space and a few others if you know what you’re doing).


Just this past few weeks, we got the news that Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy (well, it was a while ago), and they were going to close even more stores. Then, all of a sudden, they up and decided to just screw it, close it all!

The day after we heard that, my wife and I went out to dinner and decided to hit Barnes & Nobel a day earlier than normal. Now, it’s no secret that B&N has been having their issues as well. We’ve all heard the usual “Sales were not as well as expected” mantra every store yells to the heavens every single year around Christmas time, even if they sell every single item in their store. Well, through overexpansion, corporate stockholder greed, whatever the case, B&N is in trouble and of course, they’re putting the blame directly on Amazon, whether justified or not. Maybe the real culprit is their stockholders are not seeing enough return on their investment and are dumping stock. Who knows? Maybe B&N should’ve remained private, if they ever were, and none of this would’ve happened. Whatever the case, the rumors persist that they may not be around by 2019.

So…my wife and I hit B&N after dinner and walk into the store and see inventory tags on all the shelves. Aaagh! What’s going on? After shopping, when I paid for my book, I asked the clerk what’s going on. He’s, of course, a brand new guy and as far as he knew, it was just inventory and not a closing issue, but he wasn’t sure. They wouldn’t tell a minimum wage new hire anyway, but hey, had to ask.

Maybe it was just inventory, but it was hard not to panic.

Since then, we’ve been back, the inventory tags are gone, and the store seems to be back to normal. At least we hope!


Personally, I don’t do a lot of shopping on line. Sure, I use Amazon, for instance, when I can’t get something in the local store. However, I like to touch and feel the item first, before I buy. You can’t do that on Amazon.

On the other hand, a retail store can’t possibly stock every obscure item you could possibly want.

There’s a tossup here, when you think about it.

Then again, if it’s in the store, I’ll pay a bit more to grab it off the shelf and take it with me rather than save a few bucks to order it on line. That’s just me. I don’t think I save that much getting it on line. Plus I take the risk of having it stolen off my porch.


I keep hearing that if you self-publish, or even traditionally publish and try to work any special deals with Amazon, they’re starting to impose more and more rules and twists and deals and regulations and whatever.

In other words, they’re putting up barriers to business for what used to be a free-for-all for the independent businessman and woman.

What does this mean?


I’ve also been hearing rumblings that Create Space, the main source for many self-published books is closing down on-demand. Or, they’re restricting the use or something. I’m not sure the whole deal so please do the proper research before taking what I say as gospel. However, just having the rumor around is enough to make one wonder.

Another barrier?


Will we soon see the day when and if retail stores go away because of Amazon, at least due to everyone blaming them as a generalization for “on line,” that soon it will be just as difficult to get self-published as it is to get traditionally published?

Could we one day see that time when authors will struggle just as much as they did thirty years ago to get their book to the public?

Will the nature of the struggle, though be a bit different, result in the same frustrating thing as traditional publishing?

To get traditionally published, it may be the same cycle of rejection for ten, twenty, thirty years as it ever was.

On the other hand, the former, much easier to get self-published route might turn into a cycle of monetary versus endless regulations and rules and peer reviews and who knows what to get that book printed.

We might end up right back at square one if Amazon and others like them keep going.

Just a thought.

Still and always, happy writing!

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