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The Self-Publishing Revolution

By: Jeffrey R. Di Leo  

Self-publishing has always been the underworld of book culture: a haven for esoterica, wild ideas, and half-baked prose. It exists just below the imaginary border between books whose publication is paid by others—and those whose publication is paid by the author. For many, this border delimits the break between legitimate publishing and its opposite. Nevertheless, self-publishing is now the fasting-growing dimension of the publishing world. Moreover, the number of self-published books now dwarf the number of traditionally-published books. But does this rapid rise of self-publishing reflect a change in view regarding it? Perceptions about self-publishing have long moved in the opposite direction of those associated with mainstream publishing. If the latter are generally associated with publishing success, then the former are associated with failure. But now that the technology for self-publication has greatly improved and the cost is enticingly low, are perceptions about it changing? Does the fact that some authors now opt to self-publish given the choice between working with an established publishing house or doing it themselves mean that self-publishing is no longer tantamount to publishing failure? While self-publishing still evokes more fear among authors than mainstream publishing, particularly those who publish in order to advance their reputation and maximize their profit, perceptions about it are changing. Book culture has been fundamentally changed by the self-publishing revolution—and there is no going back to past perceptions about self-publishing.

Self-publishing, Book Culture, Hybrid Publishing
Publishing Practices: Past, Present, and Future
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session



Jeffrey R. Di Leo

Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of English and Philosophy, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Houston-Victoria, United States
United States

Jeffrey R. Di Leo is Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences and Professor of English and Philosophy at the University of Houston-Victoria. He is editor and publisher of American Book Review, and the founder and editor of symploke. His books include include Fiction's Present: Situating Contemporary Narrative Innovation (2008, with R. M. Berry), Federman's Fictions: Innovation, Theory and the Holocaust (2011), Turning the Page: Book Culture in the Digital Age (2014), Criticism after Critique: Aesthetics, Literature, and the Political (2014), Dead Theory: Derrida, Death, and the Afterlife of Theory (2015), Higher Education under Late Capitalism: Identity, Conduct, and the Neoliberal Condition (2016), American Literature as World Literature (2017), The Debt Age (2018; with S. McLennen and P. Hitchcock), Bloomsbury Handbook of Literary and Cultural Theory (2018), and The End of American Literature: Essays from the Late Age of Print (2019).