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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Indie Amazon?

Many years ago, Amazon was a guy with a website and a garage full of books. As huge as Amazon is now, it's difficult to imagine it had such a humble beginning.

Somebody perceived a need in the market that nobody knew was there until advancing technology revealed it. Sure, you could buy books mail-order from book clubs and such, but coupling that idea with the internet made it convenient for the ballooning home-computing population to browse through a virtual bookshelf and order a book with a couple mouse clicks. Depending on where you live and how much time you have, it beats the crud out of physically driving to the bookstore to find a good read.

As much as Amazon has revolutionized the book industry, and will continue to with e-books and the like, there are more disasters coming for the stodgy old dinosaur that is the New York Publishing Cartel. One person who may help take the revolution a step further is Sharon Kay Roberts.

Sharon has started an online bookstore called the CIA. No, it's not a pseudo-secret spy network doing infrared scans on your home via  satellite. It's the Coalition of Independent Authors. It's a timely concept that takes some of the marketing burden off of indie authors while giving readers ample opportunity to sample books outside the bottleneck that the New York Publishing Cartel has decided comprises what reading material should be available for consumers.

As both a reader and a writer, I'm sick of the NYPC's monopoly on the publishing industry. There's a whole lot of fiction (and non-fiction) out there that is good, but never gets past the corporate beancounters in Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the good indie stuff is outnumbered probably 10-to-1 by books so abysmal that they seem to validate the NYPC's stranglehold. And that brings up another edge to the sword of revolution: once the Manhattan gatekeepers are bypassed, the readers themselves (and whatever reviewers/bloggers they trust) become the gatekeepers, filtering through enormous mountains of slush to find the good stuff.

Personally, I don't see that as such a huge negative. I haven't been happy with the NYPC gatekeepers' work for the last couple decades, anyway. They've quashed plenty of books for not following approved formulas, for political reasons, or simply because the beancounters' crystal balls told them X would sell and Y would not, but that I would have enjoyed reading. And yet they've still failed to filter out some real literary sludge, too. I trust my own judgment more than theirs, when it comes to what I want to read. I've found plenty of worthless books out there, and will certainly weed through much more, but it will be worth it to find the good stuff that the suits in New York don't believe should be available for me to read.

Anyway, you can visit the Coalition of Independent Authors' Bookstore here, and happy shopping to you.

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