The gatekeeper problem — acknowledged but not really addressed

From a piece at

So as a reader, how do you insure that you do not fall into the trap of unwittenly purchasing indie eBooks and only buy from reputable publishers? The first, check out who actually published the book. If it has an authors name or says “published by Smashwords, or Published by LULU” or another indie publisher you should avoid it. Smashwords is notorious for having a laissez faire acceptance policy and distributes thousands of poorly written titles to every major bookstore every month.

The article suggests that ‘reputable publishers’ provide the only real guarantee of quality. It offers strategies for finding books (not all of which involve cutting out indie authors). Advice includes:

  • Go direct to publishers’ sites
  • Sort listings by price from most to least expensive (because indie authors sell cheap).
  • Look at publisher name in listing — avoid self-pub companies like Smashwords and LULU
  • Check to see if a print version is available (an e-book without a print version is a ‘serious red flag’).
  • Look for reviews on Goodreads et al.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo all have self-publishing programs where any writer can submit an eBook and have it instantly visible in their stores. There is no editorial curation or anyone vetting out books that have overt sexual themes, bestiality or are rift[sic] with spelling mistakes, or poor grammar. Unsuspecting customers are duped into purchasing them because they might have a similar name to a bestselling title, or come up in the “if you liked book X, try book Y and Z.)

Is it really the case that writers who publish only in electronic format, and not via an established publisher, are peddling cut-price pornographic tat? It seems unlikely.

Still, there clearly is a tide of dross out there. What models are growing up to complement the validation of traditional publishers?

[Link discovered at]


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