By Steve Windwalker, Publisher of Planet iPad and
Editor of Kindle Nation Daily
Call it the "Paper Curtain," if you like.
But like the Berlin Wall, it's coming down.
As a result of the Publishing Perestroika that has been unleashed by readers and writers connecting primarily around Kindle content in the short span of just 39 months, the walls that have kept self-published and ebook authors from being included in prestigious newspaper bestseller lists will come crashing down this week.
Tomorrow, USA TODAY will roll out its weekly list of the top 150 bestselling books in the U.S., just as it does every Thursday.
But for the very first time, USA Today announced today, its list for the week ending February 6 will include bestselling self-published direct-to-Kindle authors like Amanda Hocking. Hocking's books currently rank #3, #11, #12, #27, #37, #41, and #46 on the Kindle Store top 50 bestsellers, and "the three titles in her Trylle Trilogy (Switched, Torn and Ascend, the latest) will make their debuts in the top 50 of USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list," wrote USA Today's Carol Memmott in an article entitled "Authors catch fire with self-published ebooks."
Whether it happens this week or within a few more weeks, it's also a good bet that Hocking will soon be accompanied by bestselling Kindle indie authors like John Locke, Victorine Lieske, and others.
And other, equally dramatic developments will follow:
- One way or another, the fact that USA Today has opened its "bestseller list" gates to the great unwashed population of ebook and self-published authors will force the New York Times to do the same, lest its bestseller list be rendered irrelevant.
- Once the Times and other rags allow self-published books on their bestseller lists, they will have to start publishing reviews of self-published books.
- The prediction made here just a few weeks ago, that an indie author would be inducted by early 2012 into the "Kindle Million Club" alongside James Patterson, Stieg Larsson, and Nora Roberts, will prove to have been ridiculously conservative. Regardless of when Amazon makes the announcement, Hocking will pass the million-copy mark in Kindle books sold by the first day of Spring this year, and she will be joined by another dozen indie authors before the arrival of Spring in 2012.
All of these changes probably became inevitable, even though we didn't know it then, when Amazon launched the Kindle on November 19, 2007.
But the barons of the book industry and the big New York publishers should make no mistake about the fact that these events have been hastened dramatically by their own tragically misguided launch of the agency model price-fixing plan early in 2010. Their tone-deaf move to try to protect their print publishing business model by insisting upon increases of 30 to 50 percent in ebook prices opened the doors wide to indie authors to lure readers with lower prices for what, in many cases, are better books.
During the last week before the agency model launch, in March 2010, there was not a single fiction title by an indie author along the top 50 bestselling titles in the Kindle Store.
This week, indie fiction authors have 18 of the top 50 spots. Those are 18 of the top 50 bestselling ebook spots in the land, worth well over a million copies sold during the month of February, and the agency model publishers might just as well have said "Here, come and take these, we don't need them."