Self-publishing is the in-thing, and a good thing too.
AssociatedContent is a hybrid web-publishing and content sharing platform. It has been going for a year now and has quite a collection of content. Clicking on "books", for example, brings you to a collection of book reviews ordered by date of posting. The collection is eclectic, and unless you are happy to get a list "by most recent" for its search categories, a bit haphazard. A more fine-tuned tagging system would help, such as Amazon’s ability to let customers browse broad categories and then fine-tune down within the category. Of course, the website is by no means limited to book reviews, content covers just about anything, written, video and audio.
Each (written) article has plenty of features, for example a reader scoring system, comment facility, links to related articles, links to previous articles by that author — and the inevitable ads (courtesy Google). The owners, Softbank Captial, say they have invested 5.4 million US dollars; users and conent providers are said to be professionals of various descriptions. There’s a whole range of material the site will consider publishing and, it says, pay for (hmmm). Their tagline is "Soon, everyone will be published on AssociatedContent". I’m going to add it, or rather a bit of it, to my rss reader for a while to see what the output is like — the site itself is a bit "busy" for my personal taste so it is perfect for rss.
The more conventional ("moribund" as one of my colleagues flippantly has been heard to call it) medium of paper lives on. In one of those free glossy magazines that comes through my door every month and generally goes straight into the recycling box is a feature about Grosvenor House Publishing, which is run by someone who lives locally, it turns out. GH is one of many such ventures: the trend started in the USA but has caught on, enabled by the internet, and this particular example seems not bad on the face of it. G. P. Taylor, who writes best-sellers such as "Shadowmancer", is a featured author.
This company charges 495 pounds sterling for a professionally finished book, Amazon distribution and limited UK bookshop distribution. They are cagey about the print run but I would guess it is essentially a print-on-demand operation. I’m impressed by their website, service to authors (marketing guidance provided) and testimonials by published authors. More power to Grosvenor House and to outfits like them; more power to authors.
The other biggie to keep an eye out for is Lightning Source, which is entirely print on demand and is a sister company to Ingram Books in the USA. Interestingly, in both the UK and USA, Lightning Source is in the same industrial park as Amazon, and books are printed by Lightning Source and often sent out same/next day by Amazon. We have seen a lot of West African titles coming out of the continent being produced in the west by Lightning Source – better quality of production and fewer delays. It is my understanding that plenty of individuals are now setting themselves up as publishers and producing their own books, or other books out of copyright, through this method.