Is Print Publishing the New Vanity Press?


All is vanity
All is vanity by quinn.anya, on Flickr

[Seth] Godin, a best-selling author of marketing books such as Tribes and Permission Marketing, felt he no longer needed his traditional publisher. Notably, Godin defined “publishing” far more broadly than did Penguin Group. He plans on distributing his content in a number of media—audio books, apps, podcasts, print on demand, etc.

As for the value of publishers, Godin commented: “Publishers provide a huge resource to authors who don’t know who reads their books. What the Internet has done for me, and a lot of others, is enable me to know my readers.” … As someone who has had six books and innumerable articles published by traditional print publishers… I have seen the transformation of a raw manuscript into an edited, indexed, laid-out publication. It is a sight to behold, and certainly something I couldn’t do on my own.

That said, if publishers can’t find innovative ways to create new markets for an author’s content, and if more successful authors shift to Godin’s model, we may get to the point where print publishers are seen as the vanity press and high-quality self-publishing is the new professional standard. If writers do not know who their audiences are, they can, in essence, ride the coattails of the marketing channels of a traditional publisher. If, on the other hand, they have already built their readership through other avenues, they may rely on their own reputation for credibility, rather than on the imprimatur of a publisher, to sell their books.

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