Back in 2007 the Washington Post teamed up with renowned violin prodigy Joshua Bell to perform a social experiment. The writers wanted to see if busy people, in a busy place would notice beauty when it was presented out of context. They stacked the deck by using a super-famous (to those who follow classical music and orchestral performance) musician, a near perfect instrument, and some of the most beautiful and difficult music to play. The trick was to put the musician in a busy subway station at rush hour, video tape the entire scene, then analyze the reaction of the passersby. More than a thousand people passed by this uniquely gifted man playing beautiful renditions of some of the most amazing music ever composed in the 45 minutes he was there…and only a few stopped to listen for a moment, with children being the most attentive and curious audience. Most people never noticed the beauty around them.
I bring this up because it reminds me of the current state of the e-book publishing landscape, dominated by the Amazon.com marketplace. When a new Kindle owner signs on to Amazon for the first time and they click on the Kindle store, they are met by neatly organized curated selections that are dominated by the big six publishers. It’s a mixture of the NYT Best Sellers, the top Amazon performers, and books whose publishers are paying big dollars to promote on the front page of Amazon’s Kindle store. What you won’t find is a section dedicated to independent authors. That’s not to say you can’t find the indie authors, but you have to know where to look.
Over the past two years, I have read almost exclusively only novels and short stories from independent authors. While there have been a few duds, the vast majority have been as good as anything I would buy from a mainline publisher or known author. So this begs the question…why doesn’t Amazon do a better job of promoting independent authors?
I don’t ask these questions because I crave more revenue for indie authors (I do, of course), but rather I want more readers to discover the hidden beauty lurking deep in the vast Amazon catalog. Like the talented busker playing his heart out for spare change on the street, the independent author brings the full measure of his/her talent and offers it for mere pennies to anyone who will take the time to stop, gaze at a cover, read a blurb, and take a chance. Our applause is a kind review, a visit to our website, or a random tweet telling others about our books.
So, perhaps like the people in the subway station, you are hurrying past virtual shelves full of beauty, on your way to the next Michael Crichton or James Patterson novel. I would encourage you to dig deep, read some e-book blogs and websites, and take chance on an indie author. I guarantee you’ll find something that will suit your taste and surprise you. All for less than a cup of fancy coffee.
If you are interest in reading the article I referenced, click here –>> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html
January 8, 2013 at 8:16 pm
Domination, that’s the name of the game. Two supermarkets account for 80% of the grocery market in Australia. Bertelsmann accounts for 1 in every 3 book sold 😦