booksI’ve written previously about the emerging (or maybe erupting would be a better word) field of self publishing (Opportunity, or Another Sign of the Apocolypse? March 30, 2009), which is evolving at a mind-boggling pace. Much of the change can be attributed to new technology on both ends of the publishing spectrum. On the output end, e-book reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle and mobile devices like the iPhone and Blackberry are making it easier to access content in an electronic form. A corresponding change is happening on the input end where the new sub-industry of self publishing has spun off from the mother ship of traditional publishing. This transition is being made possible by the availability of on-demand printing which makes it feasible to produce as few as a single copy of a printed book—an unthinkably expensive notion just a short time ago.

While one might think this would mean a swift end to the traditional publishing industry (and, indeed, it still might), an entrepreneurial author with a few hundred newly printed books sitting in her garage is still faced with sizable tasks of promotion, sales, and distribution before those books are in the hands of her readers.

Fast Pencil, a new entrant in the $2 billion+ self publishing industry offers a solution for self publishers that proposes to bundle the services of publishing (printed or electronic), promotion, sales, and distribution into a one-stop user experience. With sales and distribution channels through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Fast Pencil can offer visibility and presence that would be out of reach for most first-time authors.

I see entrepreneurial opportunity all over this story. Obviously, Fast Pencil and other self publishing outfits, like Lulu and MagCloud, make it easier than ever for first-time authors to navigate this process. But I also see opportunity—especially for designers—to fill the need that will undoubtedly arise as design services get cut out of the publishing process. As always, change=opportunity.

Fast Pencil CEO, Steve Wilson, is interviewed in this segment from the Small Business section of The Wall Street Journal website (which, incidentally, is a surprisingly engaging and content-rich resource, check it out).

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