Back in 2002, a friend’s husband had written a novel that he was desperately trying to get a publisher to pick up. As is altogether the frequent case nowadays, he was having no success. A friend of his, who lived in Singapore, offered to obtain a single, printed copy of the manuscript in hardcover book format for him. The gentleman in Singapore could have one copy printed at a very affordable price.
My friend’s husband jumped at the chance and within a few weeks had a lovely hard-bound copy of his book. It looked professional. I was amazed! The ability to print a single hard-cover copy at that cheap a price was a new concept.
A few years later, the ability to affordably print just one book at a time arrived in the United States. The first website I learned about that offered to print just one copy of a book at a decent price was Blurb.com. My college-aged nephew told me about this website when some of his fellow students began publishing their undergraduate thesis papers as books in an attempt to increase their grades.
Now that technology and digital printing has made publishing affordable for almost anyone, many are jumping into the book publishing business.
Take Barnes & Noble. Last September, Barnes and Noble announced the launch of their new children’s publishing website, Tikatok™. Tikatok is an online platform where parents and their children can write, illustrate, and publish their original stories into professional-quality hardcover and paperback books or ebooks. The pricing is very affordable. Hardcover books start at $18.00 and paperbacks at $15.00. Now every child can be a published author with a physical book to prove it!
Of course with sites such as Scribd, Booksie, WeRead, and Yudu, anyone can publish an ebook for free. However, society still places a slightly higher prestige on those authors of print books, and now anyone (even children) can have a book published as easy as 1-2-3.
What are the long-term ramifications of such easy access and affordability of publishing a book?
I believe it will drive the price of books down. Yes, those well-known authors and books offering specialized information will still command premium dollars, but the overall price to purchase an ordinary book will decline, as may the overall quality of published books.
On the bright side, a book written by your child makes a great gift for his or her grandparent!