Will Amazon’s Kindle Direct Ruin Publishing?

Now you can write a novel and stick it into the Kindle Direct Publishing platform and voila, you are now a published author. There is even an inbuilt cover designer that can make your novel look professional.


Remember Geocities?

Our internet allowed us the opportunity to publish our own content on blogs, a spectacular development that created a buzzing online community. Those who are old enough to remember, the formation of Geocities brought about millions of sites with niche topics online. This of course would be a glamorous version of the truth.

The internet, specifically the once-popular Yahoo! Search engine, became littered with poorly designed webpages by passionate aficionados of thousands of different and sometimes arbitrary topics that made Geocities look like a giant buffet of ugliness and misinformation. Different strokes for different folks right? Speaking of which, Geocities content further decomposed to encompass uncontrolled sexual and commercial content, intrusive advertising and it was, basically, a virus-laden network of websites filled with spam.

Later on, blogging sites like Blogger and social networks like Twitter and Facebook better controlled the content you could place online and put formatting and sensitivity filters that prevented the formation of online toilet pits.

Today, a large portion of content is user generated (in a reasonably controlled environment) and this currently functions as a revolutionary tool for overthrowing ideologies, promoting freedom of information, allowing people with similar interests to connect, etc.

Simultaneously, the digitisation of just about everything spread over to the paperback novel, bringing extremely easy access to quality books from our favourite authors and their respective publishers. I have a Kindle and it is quite amazing!

Now you can write a novel and stick it into the Kindle Direct Publishing platform and voila, you are now a published author. There is even an inbuilt cover designer that can make your novel “look professional”.

There are a few things wrong with this.


Quality Control of Online Self-Publishing Sites

Publishing houses were notorious for binning manuscripts in the chase for something reader-worthy. Just 6 years ago, getting published was an achievement of note as there were quality measures in place, which apart from looking at the potential commercial value of a book, were scrupulous with the kind of information received and gave editorial support to writers to complete their masterpiece.

It is not about whether currently unpublished authors can create masterpieces or not. Rather of the pollution that can occur that can misinform us and lower the standards of information that we do consume.

Uncontrolled Self-Publishing Platforms can Host Sales Spam

Download any “Free PDF” today and you will be provided with information in the form of sales copy that will, sentence by sentence, sway you toward a product or service.

Type in any health query on YouTube and you will see well-clad sales pitches from authoritative practitioners inviting you through to their clinic. But where does the propaganda end and the truth begin? Without control measures in place, our future generations could be the most misinformed. They could still believe bats are blind, oranges have the highest form of vitamin C and that Oprah is part of the Illuminati.

This is not to say that ideological inferences were not drawn when top publishing houses produce books. Rather that they had more control over the process.


Non-Fiction Can Become Even Further from the Truth

Novels, movies and books can have holes in their stories and can extend to flights of fantasy. But what if a story was written about a blind bat and all his blind relatives? Does it not irk your sense and sensibility within this modern day? Or should we brush this over as a “work of fiction”?

Am I being traditionalist or conservative? Not really. We need to display a keen interest in how knowledge will be appropriated and disseminated for our future generations and work on par with technology that provides tremendous opportunities for this to happen.

Instead of leaving traditional newspaper and magazine publication employees unemployed, we could continue to restructure the function of editors and news creators and plug them into the right systems such as the Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

Technology is frightfully fast in development and adoption, but sales folk are quicker, and individuals without the true interest and honed ability for writing can easily take centre stage, much like YouTube stars with voice sync at their aid. We could redefine what it means to be an artist to overcompensate for this. That’s fine. But will we lose our ability to create a well resonating piece and instead flood our heads with junk in this process?

Picasso’s drawings were arbitrary and looked like nothing more than scribbles at times, however he always had the ability, from a young age, to create other forms of masterpieces, including life-like paintings. The problem today is that we may want to pretend that we have the experience and insight and unspoken authority as an artist, even though we can only make those erratic scribbles on our canvasses. Reasoning like this makes movie stars governors and billionaires diplomatic ambassadors of our countries.