One thing that I've noticed happening more and more often in the store when people are browsing and chatting in front of the New Release Trade paperback shelf is that a customer will point at a specific book and say:
"Is this self-published?"
"Wow, there are a lot of self-published books here."
In fact, none of the books at which they're pointing are self-published.
I finally realized this weekend that the reason they're asking is because of the cover stock used on those specific trade paperbacks. If the trade paperback has a flat, glossy cover, they ignore the art, the type and the cover design. If it's flat gloss, with no foil, no embossing, no textures, they are now assuming that the book is self-published; they won't even pick it up.The informative part is that it shows how "real" publishers might manage to find a new business model in a world where they have lost the distribution advantage. Essentially readers trust publishers to do the gatekeeping thing of producing only the good well written books and not the crud ones. And perhaps more specifically "good" as meaning "the ones this particular reader likes".