Moderator: Jon Fine, Director of Author & Publisher Relations, Amazon.com
Panelists: Mark Coker, Founder, Smashwords; Cevin Bryerman, Publishers Weekly

Briarman: now covering self publishing. Big houses are starting to look at self publishing as a way of finding new authors. Magazines and books will still be around for many years, but this may change as today’s kids come of age. Independent bookstores have declined from 8,000 to 2,000. Bookstore should be part of community to help it survive – and can be a good outlet for self-published authors. 400K books published each year and PW only gets to look at 7K of them. For self-publishing the tipping point over traditional publishing won’t come until the quality comes up. They see a lot of crappy self-published books because the barrier to entry is so low. The best promoter of a book is “yourself”. That’s what you have to do as an author.

Coker: ebooks won’t replace print. They are just another format for consuming words. Bookstores will not be able to survive in the current form. If brick and mortar store go away the power of publishers will decline tremendously. B&M bookstores provide a valuable community function to introduce readers to books and this would be a shame to loose. Can use self-publishing to show commercial publishers that there is a market for the book. Self-publishing is not having too much of an impact on traditional publishing. In the ebook world this is not the case however. Only a matter of time before we see more big name authors going to self-publishing because they can do more than the traditional publisher does at a lower cost and get more of the pie. 40% of ereading still takes place on a personal computer and so PDF is still important.

Fine: authors can look to see who are the most prolific reviewers on Amazon and then send copies of books to them. Toughest challenge is finding ways to elevate book. Amazon now gives authors their own “dashboard” where they can add videos, reviews, bios to their author page. Bottom line advice is “write well”. Wonder of self-publishing is that you can publish, not to become a best seller, for any reason you want. The cover matters. Even though it’s an ebook customers still look at the cover.

Impressions: another good panel, even though some last minute substitutions had to be made. I hadn’t heard the figures about bookstore numbers before.