Self Publishing: A High School English Teacher's Observation

I just finished reading David Gaughran's post about the self-publishing industry as of last year 2011: The Self-Publishing Year In Review and was nodding my head with every paragraph. It's true, folks.  The publishing industry is definitely changing.  Go ahead and read David's thought provoking and very detailed article, and then come back and read what I have observed in my small rural school where I have taught English Literature for over 13 years.

Today, I had divided the class up into groups and students were going through a set of questions about the text they had read the previous night.  The people who were absent the day before were given the task of reading this text silently at their desk as the others discussed it.  I walked around the room, listening to my students dig into the text and verbally hash out the finer details of Twain, when I noticed that one of the students who was supposed to be reading his text had a small e-reader out just in his lap, reading away at some other book that interested him more than Twain's autobiography.  Due to my school's policy on electronic devices, I dutifully told him to put it away.

I have noticed, of late, in my small rural high school, the growing number of e-readers that are packed in book bags and stowed in lockers.  These students are buying books on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or iTunes and they are reading them.  More and more of them are reading using these devices at a staggering rate, more so since this last holiday break.

My school is not, by any means, a place where privileged children go to school.  It is a rural school at the poverty level, but these devices are becoming so affordable and the e-books are in most cases half the cost of a printed copy.  If my school is an example of a lower income school (and I would venture to guess that at least 50% of my students have e-readers or at least a smart phone with a Kindle app) what does the future hold for the printed book?

I believe we are seeing a power shift in our society regarding publishing. Anyone can publish anything they want today.  Createspace will publish a book for free (but I recommend the $39 fee to get the book into international channels).  All you have to do is buy a proof copy of your book and you are set.  No warehousing is required.  They simply print one book for each one ordered.  The Kindle edition is absolutely free to publish.

So I'm with Mr. Gaughran.  Self publish to your little heart's content.  I certainly will.  Someone will read me.