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With iTunes and Wattpad Wins, Self Publishers Are Having a Good Week


For those taking alternative routes to publishing, things are looking up.

Notable news out of the publishing world: The two top titles on the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes store's bestseller list for the week ending September 2, Justine Elvira's The Road to Forgiveness and Melody Grace's Unbroken, are both self-published books. The event deserves even more attention, notes Publishers Weekly, because these books pushed Cuckoo's Calling by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling out of the lead to the No. 3 spot.

Meanwhile, self-publishers have gotten another leg of support from celebrated Canadian author Margaret Atwood. DoubleDay, publishers of Atwood's newest novel MaddAdam, will debut the book in conjunction with Wattpad, the Toronto-based social writing website that boasts millions of users. Founded in 2006, Wattpad is a free platform that allows anyone to publish stories -- thousands are published everyday -- which are read and ranked by a notably active community of readers. In 2011, the company received $3.5 million in venture funding from Union Square Ventures, Golden Venture, and W Media Ventures (now Version One Ventures), which has spun off companies to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the past.

A Wattpad app is available for Apple iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) OS, and on the Amazon Kindle.

Atwood has been a long time supporter of the social media platform, which recently added a crowdfunding section to support authors. Announced yesterday, independent publisher Sourcebooks has now teamed with Wattpad to publish select titles as physical books and distribute them in bookstores and on the Web.

Are we finally seeing the success of alternatives to traditional publishing, an industry whose demise has oft been hailed imminent? As a 2008 article in New York Magazine points out: "...the demise of publishing has been predicted since the days of Gutenberg. But for most of the past century...the business of books has jogged along at a steady pace." Remember that the global bookstore chain Borders, which at its height boasted roughly 700 super and specialty stores in the US, didn't shutter its doors because people weren't buying books. Instead, it missed the importance of an emerging trend of e-commerce, outsourcing its online store to Amazon in 2001 in order to focus on its storefronts.

Publically traded book publishers Courier (NASDAQ:CRRC) and McGraw Hill (NYSE:MHFI) have seen their respective earnings grow in the last quarter. John Wiley & Sons (NYSE:JW.A) reported flat revenues for fiscal 2013, amidst a restructuring. Pearson (NYSE:PSO) is also in the middle of a restructuring. It expects modest revenue growth for fiscal 2013.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw
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