The Los Angeles Times reports today about something I've been talking about for months…the tsunami of self-published swill washing over Amazon. The article refers to bad self-published books, but mostly discusses rip-offs of other people's work and books cobbled together from public domain sources.
Thousands of digital books, called e-books, are being published through Amazon's self-publishing system each month. Many are not written in the traditional sense.
[…]These e-books are listed for sale — often at 99 cents — alongside more traditional books on Amazon's website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want. Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word.
This new phenomenon represents the dark side of an online revolution that's turning the traditional publishing industry on its head by giving authors new ways to access readers directly.
[…]In 2010, almost 2.8 million nontraditional books, including e-books, were published in the United States, while just more than 316,000 traditional books came out. That compares with 1.33 million nontraditional books and 302,000 conventional books in 2009, said Albert Greco, a publishing industry expert at Fordham University's business school. In 2002, fewer than 33,000 nontraditional books were published, whereas more than 215,000 traditional books came out in the United States, Greco noted.
"This is a staggering increase. It's mind-boggling," Greco said. "On the positive side, this is helping an awful lot of people who wrote books and could not get them published in the traditional way through agents."
But Greco listed downsides. One problem is that authors must compete for readers with a lot more books — many of which "probably never should have seen the light of day," he said.