With the rise of music you can download, record stores became obsolete. Many musicians moved to online forums for their work. The ease with which someone could post music increased. Artists received greater exposure as a result. Numerous success stories emerged of people who found record deals after their youtube videos went viral. People download individual tracks rather than whole albums now. The framework of the music industry changed as a result of advances in the delivery of music.
I wonder if similar changes will affect the publishing industry. With e-readers delivering digital content, what's to stop authors from posting short stories for sale? We could see a resurgence in the short story as a result of the ease with which readers can access the story. Take Barry Eisler for example. You can read about how he bucked the traditional publishing contract for a digital deal with Amazon here. I wonder if emerging authors will embrace online delivery for their work. The possibility exists for finding a broader audience. Say you offer a section of your novel as free downloadable content. It gathers interest on the web. Publishers take note and you end up with a book deal as a result. It could streamline the publication process. Instead of the slush pile, editors would file through the stories with the highest hits. It's an interesting scenario to imagine. Innovative indie writing could find a larger audience. Rather than rely wholly on an editor's decision to publish, user ratings could drive sales of writing.
Will digital content revolutionize publishing? Will indie writing find a groundswell of support through digital venues? I'm not sure, but the possibility is heartening. Time will tell if readers are willing to embrace digital forms of reading over a tangible book.