Digital music providers have carved a new channel for music distribution. Not only are the major labels selling large quantities of digital music, but artists and independent labels are finding distribution in a market where they had been previously marginalized by the high costs of traditional media production and distribution.

DigitalPulp Publishing is attempting to do for books what the Internet has done for music. By moving traditional books into the digital realm, DPP Press is cutting costs and working to distribute and promote heretofore unknown writers. DigitalPulp Publishing specializes in electronic books, or eBooks, which can be read on any desktop or laptop computer, PDA’s and cell phones or a dedicated eBook reader.

“What basically sets the company apart,” said CEO and co-founder Genene Miller Cot©, “is that not only do we publish books ourselves, we also act as a distributor for other publishers. When we do this, we take the risk up front and recoup our cost from the actual sale of the books, which means that the publisher doesn’t have to pay up front.” According to the company’s website, DPP markets itself to publishers ("Sell your Books as eBooks"), authors ("Become a Published Author") and consumers (through their DPP Store). This approach to the eBook distribution market helps independent publishers and small presses offer publications digitally through the DPP Store at no cost while also offering new opportunities for the work of unpublished writers to see the light of day.

While this business model is certainly all-encompassing, it remains to be seen whether the level of quality will ever catch up with traditional print publishers. If larger publishing companies are willing to work with eBook distribution, they are likely to do it themselves, as Cot© cited a lack of “resources or technical competence” — problems larger publishers would not have to deal with — as the major reason independent authors haven’t yet offered eBooks. Many authors would also be likely to avoid digital print-on-demand or eBook services, as being published through a traditional channel (and thus having passed the test of the editorial "gatekeepers") still carries a great deal more weight in the literary world.

Finally, many readers still prefer traditional paper-and-ink books. Though portable digital technology has caught on in the past decade, you still see plenty of people carrying around and reading books. The ability to carry something tangible still matters to many people. An eBook cannot simulate the heft of a book in one’s hand. Though portable eBook readers to exist, a book will still never require any batteries or AC power to read.

But these caveats shouldn’t deter the growth of the industry. Though it may not immediately catch on in the same way that digital music did and, it can fill a niche market. Authors of short, experimental works or novellas can find new audiences through digital publishing. Many of these marginal authors may continue to prefer traditional vanity presses or print-on-demand services like those offered by Caf© Press and Lulu, but eBook publishing is still a viable option for many would-be authors.

Caveat emptor: you may have to search carefully to separate the wheat from the chaff when publishing is democratized to this extreme, but that doesn’t mean good content isn’t out there. Cot© said the DPP Store has accepted about 85% of submitted titles for distribution, but the publishing arm of the company — the DPP Press — will only accept approximately one out of every fifty submissions to release under its own imprint. Distinguishing between these aspects of the company is important. Their goal is to produce selective, quality material even when the affiliated store may be selling lesser works. It is similar to if a retailer like Amazon began publishing books; one would expect a level of quality in their published works that one might not find in the catch-all environment of the marketplace.

It remains to be seen what level of content we can expect through alternative, electronic distribution of traditionally printed media. Many authors may still try and publish through traditional channels, but these major publishers only put out a certain number of publications a year. Companies like DPP Press may have found a way to step in and catch the gems that fall through the cracks of the system.

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