If there were any doubt about the impact of self-publishing on the industry, a quick look at the August 23rd post on the Publishers Weekly blog by PW President George W. Slowick Jr. would dispel it. The publication which carries the tagline "The International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling" announced a policy change.
“We are returning to our earliest roots. PW dates to 1872, when it was first known as Trade Circular Weekly and listed all titles published that week in what was then a nascent industry. We have decided to embrace the self-publishing phenomenon in a similar spirit. Call it what you will—self-publishing, DIY, POD, author-financed, relationship publishing, or vanity fare. They are books and that is what PW cares about. And we aim to inform the trade.”
The quarterly supplement which will be titled PW Select promises a “complete announcement issue of all self-published books submitted during that period.” Each book will receive a listing will include author, title, subtitle, price, pagination, format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information. PW Select will choose 25 self-published titles for review.
What Publishers Weekly’s announcement did not do was place self published books on the same footing as those published by commercial publishing houses. For authors who submit a self-published book for inclusion in PW Select, “a processing fee of $149 will be charged.”
The reaction in the self-publishing community has been predictable.
“$149 for a brief listing that no one will read, plus the miniscule chance of an actual review in a segregated section? I'm sorry to see PW joining the ranks of the many businesses out to fleece self publishers,” said Aaron Shepard in a comment on the Publishers Weekly website.
Another commenter, who did not identify himself by name, said, “PW has decided to launch a service that relatively few will be able to afford. So, in the end, rather than embracing any change, PW is simply laying down another type of self-appointed, financial “gatekeeper” to turn us away from the prize. Really disappointing.”
An article in the Self-Publishing Review gave a somewhat more balanced view of PW’s new policy: “Great news! Unfortunately, the way they’re “embracing” self-publishing is by charging a fee. The way that self-publishing could truly be embraced is by recognizing that self-published titles can be as good as any other and reviewing them alongside other books. But it still places self-published titles in a separate ghetto. An argument could be made that pay to play is built into the self-publishing model, so this isn’t a terrible development, but this has the feeling of milking self-published authors like so many other promotional schemes.”
Whether you agree with the way they went about it or not, the important thing is that Publishers Weekly’s action recognizes that it and the industry it serves needs to find a way to address self-published books which are accounting for an increasing share of the book market each year.
Click here to read the full post on Publishers Weekly.
Click here to read the response on The Self-Publishing Review.