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Publishers are entering a “soul-searching moment”

PBS MediaShift executive editor Mark Glaser on the game-changing nature of the self-publishing trend.

In a recent edition of the Mediatwits podcast, Mark Glaser, executive editor at PBS MediaShift, talked with Guy Kawasaki about self-publishing his latest book APE, how he, as an author, makes the decision between self- and traditional publishing, and where publishing is headed. I had an opportunity to sit down with Glaser at the recent TOC conference in New York to find out what he thinks of the self-publishing trend and whether or not he feels it’s an industry game changer.

In our video interview (embedded below), Glaser says self-publishing is “an important trend,” not only for previously unknown authors, but for well-known authors as well who decide they have enough of an audience that they don’t need a traditional publisher’s help. He adds that quality will still be the great equalizer, that “you still need to start with something of quality that people are going to want.” As for publishers, Glaser says the self-publishing movement is signaling it’s time they focus on establishing their value:

I think it is a threat [to traditional publishers] to some extent. I don’t know that self-publishing will completely take down the entire traditional book publishing world. Again, I think that there are different ways of doing it, different ways of being published, different ways of being read. … I think the challenge for publishers right now is, what is their value to readers? What is their value to authors? … This is a real kind of soul-searching moment for publishers where they’re really going to have to think, “how do we serve this kind of self-publishing market that’s cropping up, really starting to explode?”

“They want to be a part of that in some way, whether it’s getting a self-publishing platform, whether it’s reaching out to more people, whether it’s opening their doors to more authors — they have to figure out what their role is, because they are being disintermediated to some extent … if the author can go directly to the readers, they don’t need a middle man. Unless there’s some kind of service that’s vital to both sides, there’s no role for [publishers].” (At the 2:28 mark.)

Glaser also addressed print and digital content coexistence as well as the effect technology and social media are having on media reporting and consumer news consumption. You can view his entire interview in the following video:

All keynotes and video interviews from TOC NY 2013 can be found on the TOC 2013 YouTube playlist.

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