Thursday, January 20, 2011

Meet the Gatekeeper !

A few days ago, my boss saw me coming back from lunch with my ereader in hand. As he was interested about it, we started to talk. Past the technical aspect and peculiarities of my reader (a Nook) comparatively with the FnacBook, the subject changed to the catalog, and when I talked to him about self-publishing, his first reaction was : "When I buy from a well known publisher, I know I'll get the quality associated to that publisher."

This IS the role historically attached to "Publication" (as opposed to the Publisher see previous post)  : vetting the quality of books, guarantying it reaches a minimum quality, in content as much as in "presentation" (format, editing) ...

What is true, is that if all books (good or bad) had similar visibility, a customer would only have his own experience for choosing books to buy.

In the traditional pbook world, the publisher would have the first role of "gatekeeper". In addition to that "filter", "critics" would be able through a media (newspaper, tv show etc) to add additional information. Lastly (and part of the Publisher's "marketing campaign"), a few "blurbs" would be added to the book, giving it additional "credentials". And last, some books would get litterary (by genre of course) prices, given by a jury.
While all these factors contribute to a book's visibility,"Shelf space" (or rather lack thereof) on the contrary reduces it.

So if there is no publisher in the loop, how will someone know what to buy ?
Well, who's best than readers to vet a book ? After all, when buying a book you're a reader too ! And with new technology, readers can (and DO) post reviews about books at the booksellers's place, for you fellow reader to check before buying! And if you find out that you don't like "general readers" books, you most likely will find a couple of bloggers whose tastes are more in line with yours.
Bad books get bad reviews, good books get good reviews and everyone is happy !

Of course some may try and game the system by posting fake reviews, but in general, the system works. After some times, it auto-regulates...

Joe Konrath has the same view, as expressed in today's post.

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