Tele-read says we are becoming a nation of self-publishers:
A staggering 764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers, according to statistics released this morning by R.R. Bowker. The number of “nontraditional” titles dwarfed that of traditional books whose output slipped to 288,355 last year from 289,729 in 2008. Taken together, total book output rose 87% last year, to over 1 million books.
America's book output climbed by almost ninety percent, and the vast majority of those books are self-published. This is not a comforting sign. I know that amateur writers like to rage against the editing/publishing machine as elitist, but publishers perform a valuable service. I know at least that when a book has, for instance, the Knopf logo on the spine, it will be edited, proofread, and coherent. I may not love it, but there's a guarantee of professionalism there. There are so many publishers out there that serve so many markets that you can't levy the elitism charge at all of them.
Here's the thing: 99.9% of all the self-published books I've read (or tried to read) are shit. Some of them are just plain crazy. Some of them could have become something good with an editor (a real editor, not a stern friend.) That 99.9% figure is a drastically higher percentage than traditionally published books, and that is why I cringe every time I get a self-published book in the mail for possible review, and that is why this news makes me want to die a little bit.