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How much difference just a few years can make.

There’s a Before E-Books and After E-Books, a BEB and a AEB. In the world of writing and publishing everything has changed and having lunch with a publisher brought it home to me very sharply. Everything we ever took for granted is either changing beyond recognition or vanishing entirely.

Perhaps publishers have been hit the most. They complain that all the channels of the long standing publishing business, diligently constructed over many decades, are coming apart and vanishing.

The publisher model required distributors and book shops. Today distributors are going out of business and bookshops – what can I say? Some of my favourite places to hang out with books and a coffee are no more than memories. And it’s the same all over the world.

Old systems are going down, new ones are coming up. The e-book field is still young but it’s beginning to grow.

Publishers have, perhaps, been hit the hardest and especially the dedicated smaller publishers. For them it’s becoming unsustainable. Costs are spiralling in the creation of a print book. There is less and less shelf space every year. When a book shop closes there seems nothing to replace it. Online markets, from what I hear, are harder for publishers to crack while being easier for authors.

I am not complaining. I love this new Kali yuga when all the established systems go down and new and far more open ones emerge. I like being able to do it myself. I like being able to take my book straight to the readers.

And, no, let’s set one misconception to rest. It does not cost you thousands to put up an e-book. You pay if you ask someone to edit or format or do a cover for you. This is no different from asking a carpenter to fix a chair, or an electrician to repair your meter box. You only pay for the work, that is all and the sums involved are not huge. You don’t even have to pay if you can’t afford it. If you do all the work yourself it will not cost you one paisa. Do your own cover, editing and formatting and put it up for free.

It will cost you if you want a book printed out. A print book needs upfront money to pay for the paper and designing and the printing and shipping.

An e-book requires very little to no money, but lots of patience and dedication and perhaps those are harder to get.

Which creates a problem for publishers. Where do they stand if authors are going direct to the market?

They will have to evolve into something new or they will have to close shop. And it’s not easy. Most of them don’t understand the new AEB world, are scared of the Internet and really don’t grasp the power of social media or the increasingly sophisticated world of independent authors where the rules have changed so profoundly that it’s not even the same species any more.

For me, it’s a good time. It’s been just over a month since I put up To Catch a Falling Star, and I am formatting a short story to upload and half way through writing the next book. I haven’t even got the accounts yet but this is the fast lane. And this is AEB, the new world of publishing, putting out its first few flowers into a fresh, never before, summer.

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