The press loves inspirational stories about Kindle prospectors like Hocking or crime writer John Locke striking it rich, but unfortunately this has fostered a bonanza mentality around the subject of self-published e-books (even among people who have no intention of actually writing the “books” they plan to sell). This is what Morrison means when he writes, “I’m convinced that epublishing is another tech bubble.” E-books, of course, are here to stay. Many, many readers love them, or at least find them addictively convenient. But the delusion that a writer can come out of nowhere and use assorted social networking tools to engineer a bestseller overnight is untenable.
It’s untenable not because it hasn’t happened at least once or twice among the 1.1 million Kindle authors, but because readers aren’t cattle to be milked. They’re human beings who do writers the great favor of spending their time and attention (and sometimes their money) on authors’ work. Their good faith, once lost, is unlikely to return. They’ve become leery of the glut of off-brand e-books being peddled to them by retailers and of incessant Facebook and Twitter pitches from people they barely (or don’t even know). Most of them still believe that the fellow readers who recommend books to them online are sincere and actually exist, but how much longer can that last?