With the advent of digital printing and its sidekicks—independent publishing, self-publishing, and e-books—the number of titles produced annually exploded into a mindboggling six and even seven digits.
Bookstores can’t possibly carry even one of each new hard-copy release in addition to those already overflowing their shelves, and to make matters worse, many independent as well as chain stores that welcomed readers in the past have fallen by the wayside.
Amazon and similar cyber markets now serve a worldwide readership that can order hard-copy and e-books from the comfort of their homes. Missing are the cozy nooks in brick-and-mortar establishments, where readers could spend hours perusing novels and nonfiction, introducing their little ones to the exciting world of books, and sharing soft conversations with fellow readers about favorite authors. The world of books has evolved into a whole new creature.
That evolution brought with it massive changes for writers. In the past, only traditional publishing and a few pricey vanity presses published books. The chances of your book being selected by acquisitions editors in big publishing houses lay somewhere between minuscule and non-existent. Many wonderful writers never saw their work in print if they couldn’t afford the big bucks charged by subsidy houses; and if they could afford it, they would always be followed by the reputation of not having been “good enough” to be accepted by a “real” publisher.
These changes suddenly allowed anybody to publish a book. In the absence of quality or editing requirements, huge numbers of poorly written, unedited volumes hit the marketplace. The few exceptional ones among the trash got lost in the sheer volume and received the same quality rating as the majority—not worth reading. Something had to change for self-publishing to ever be a viable option for serious writers.