mad in pursuit notebook

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS

 

Why Do-It-Yourself Publishing?

All around us are dying business models. Print newspapers. Detroit-style auto manufacturers. And book publishing.

The traditionally cumbersome and expensive process of producing, distributing and stocking books for sale increasingly focuses on safe bets (not me -- I'm old, unknown, and off the beaten track). So it does my heart good to be exploring new channels for expression and sales. It makes me feel like a pioneer instead of a vain reject.

As the economy goes throughthe current recession, I'm sure much of the anguish will come from watching outdated industries die a painful death. But it will be like a snake shedding its skin or a lightning strike clearing a forest for new growth. Something fresh is on its way.

The web has given us a great way to give our stuff away. The question on everyone's mind how to get paid for your hard work. "Monetizing" (getting paid) often comes down to how many clicks you can get on the ads posted with your pearls. And the clicks lead to "secrets" of how to get more clicks -- at the risk of becoming yet another economy without a product.

I saw an article in Wired about how musicians and other creatives are giving away their content but making their cash by selling t-shirts at CafePress or Zazzle.

Bands have relied on merch sales for years. But today's instant-customization technology has supercharged the T-shirt economy by dropping the cost of entry to zero. With a Zazzle or CafePress store, you don't need to put down any capital; the very first sale is profitable. This allows artists to speculate with dozens of designs until they hit on one that catches their fans' attention. "When you drive the risk to zero, you really open the floodgates," says Fred Durham, cofounder of CafePress.

It's great to see these outlets thriving -- and good to know there is a distribution system in case one day my little artsy things turn out to be clever enough for a stranger to buy.

Meantime, I'm enjoying the endless print-on-demand book opportunities offered by Amazon's Createspace, Lulu, and to a more limited extent (beautiful printing but only prepackaged templates) Blurb.

12.9.2008

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Passion And Peril

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