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Self-Publishing in a Digital World

Posted by David Rothschild on May 4, 2010 2:51:00 PM

ipad read resized 600After reaching ‘1 million sold‘ twice as fast as the iPhone, the iPad is shaping up to be a successful product.  

The underlying story of the iPad is how Apple’s foray into the e-reader market has fully captured the attention of a wide variety of publishers.

A recent NPR story on the evolution of publishing speaks of how ‘self-publishing’ is a new phenomenon with a symbiotic relationship to the growing number of digital e-readers, including the iPad and Kindle. 

In the past, large publishers provided authors with a variety of services from editing, distribution and marketing to expansive national book tours.

However, because of the dwindling capital in publishing company coffers, many of these benefits no longer exist.

Instead, many authors are turning toward alternative,  self-publishing methods that allow for new avenues of marketing and distribution, as well as a bigger cut of overall book profits.

From NPR:

“(the author)…might have tried and succeeded in getting the interest of a traditional publisher, but after he did the math, he decided against it. He points out that on the Internet, the average book retails for $25. But, he says, “the author gets maybe $1 or $2 a book.”

A number of companies like are offering authors the option to take more of the cut by utilizing a ‘per-book’ business model:  essentially they only print a book when a customer purchases one. 

Traditional publishers can’t make a profit unless they sell ‘tens of thousands of copies of a book,’ whereas and the author can make a profit from a single book sale.

In a broader sense, self publishing is a new phenomenon that is being propelled by the internet.  In a digital age, authors don’t necessarily need the services of large publishers and book store chains to market and distribute their literature. 

Online marketing can be achieved through free services like Twitter, niche forums and Facebook fan pages.  

For authors with niche followings, it doesn’t make sense to distribute through large book store chains when books can be easily downloaded anywhere in the world to a Kindle or iPad.

Although self-publishing gives authors freedom, it also potentially opens up the door to plagiarism. Large publishers often serve as a flood-gate to check for any instances of plagiarism before books hit mass market distribution.

In the world of self-publishing, their are fewer checks and balances to make sure distributed works are completely original.

One way that the new order of self-publishers can avoid losing credibility is by utilizing cutting-edge plagiarism detection technology like iThenticate.  iThenticate can be easily implemented anywhere throughout the self-publication process.

New businesses like that are taking the place of traditional publishers would be well served to make sure their authors are submitting original works by running them through a plagiarism checker. 

Companies that make e-readers like Amazon and Apple also would benefit from making sure that no plagiarized works ended up in their online marketplaces.


Sydell, Laura  “iPad Could Help Self-Publishers kick Open the Doors”  NPR 4 April 2010