Saturday is a day of wonder at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the day when some 150,000 members of the public storm the gates, many dressed in costume. But rhe question these days is: how many of these fans have books in them?
With self-publishing on the rise around the world, the Frankfurt Book Fair devoted a day of programming on its Publishing Perspectives stage to self-publishing, which fair officials expect will only grow in importance in the coming years.
"I think it is the best thing that could have happened," said fair director Juergen Books when asked his impression of the self-publishing boom. "A lot of people want to write, and now they have the ability to find readers. And for publishers, this is great place to find new talent, a great way to do market research, and a great way to see what people really want to publish. Fan fiction became Fifty Shades of Grey." Books said the fair will devote increasing attention to this sector in the coming years. "I think this is a huge opportunity."
The opening session on Saturday morning in Hall 8.0 got off to an understandably slow start, as the throngs of public made their way through the crowded fair gates. But the audience grew throughout the day's opening talk, from Publishing Perspective's Ed Nawotka, who set the table with a talk about the general trends in self-publishing.
"Increasingly, self-publishing is becoming a choice," Nawotka said. "Do I want to do it myself, and all the work that entails, which any traditional publisher will tell you is no small endeavor, or do I want to go the more traditional route?"
Nawotka acknowledged that for many authors, they don't have a choice, as they are unable to find a publishing deal. But for more and more authors who have had traditional deals, there is a "blending" of the two markets, where authors might publish short works, or unpublished early works on their own.
However the decision is reached, self-publishing is having an impact on the publishing market, including prices. And, he noted, the emergence of self-publishing has created what he called a market for "good enough" books, which, he said, was not meant to diminish self-published works.
When you spend $2.99 on a book you have lower expectations that if you spend $22.99 on a book," he noted. And for many readers, a $2.99 book, especially in some genres, may get the job done.
But it is not either/or he stressed. Readers flow between these two markets," he said. But what self-publishing has acknowledged, is that the market for lower-priced "good enough" books exists.