I just saw this article on priceonomics about profits from books(via HN). It hits some facts right on the nail, gets others wrong, and finally misses the main point. Let me quote here the best parts (with comments) and give you my interpretation of what print-on-demand and ebooks will bring about.
With publishing houses only offering a royalty rate of between 6-15%.
Let’s say more like 2%–5% because this is from the *profits*, not a percentage of the sale price.
Email marketing was critical.
You got that right!
Self-publishing is arguably a wonderful innovation. It is historically unprecedented, providing the means for millions of people around the world to bypass the elitism of the publishing establishment […] In terms of access to a worldwide marketplace, it is fantastically democratic. In terms of access to financial success, it is far from it.
The OP misunderestimates the power of a democratic marketplace. There is a process of natural selection for book products. It used to act on a time scale of years and decades in the old days, but with the ease that information spreads now, I predict increased competition on the marketplace and unprecedented advances in book quality. As authors start to earn money from writing books, better books will be written. Also, the higher margins of self-publishing (think 50%) make solo authors and mini-publishers much more competitive that the old dinosaurs.
It is my hope that if books become better, more youth will escape their brain being crushed like a jujube by fast-moving pixels activities and learn to think bigger thoughts—hopefully constructive ones. Could an increase in interest in books bring about a new golden age of reason?
That would definitely be nice; enough with the consumerism, warring, and financial schemes. Let’s have another renaissance or something…