Kudos to Stephen Bainbridge for trying his hand at self-publishing legal scholarship by selling a Kindle eBook, rather than publishing it as an article in a law review. Bainbridge sees four primary benefits for self-publshing:
1. I get all proceeds instead of royalties of 15% of book sales.
2. Law reviews don’t pay for articles. An article self-published would generate income.
3. I get to control marketing. I was really disappointed by the (lack of a) marketing campaign for one of my more recent books. If I self-published, I’d control the marketing campaign.
4. I control the price. If I want to maximize the number of readers, I set the price low. If I want to maximize revenue, I can set the price somewhat higher.
I wish him the best of luck.
The entire future of the print industry is dubious. Amazon now sells more books in kindle format than in paperback (yes, there is some selection bias, because people who shop online for books are more likely to be adopters of a gadget like Kindle, but you get my point). The legal publishing process is quite slow. It takes up to a year to publish a law review article, and it can take up to three years to publish an academic book (that’s not counting the prerequisite time to conduct the needed research to obtain a book deal). These works go through so many (superfluous) layers of review and editing, where the final product is really not that much significantly different than the original. And, after all that cost (some estimate it at $100,000), who reads it?
With the Bainbridge-approach, that entire process is condensed and improved.
For my own work-in-progress, Constitutional Places, Constitutional Faces, I am really tempted to go the eBook/print on demand route, rather than waste my time with a publisher.