I have a daughter. Last night we were playing around with the site GirlSense.com. On the site you can design different fashions and accessories, as well as buy the fashion creations of other users. I’ve seen other avatar makers in the past, but the amount of detail you can do on these clothes, bags, shoes, etc. is pretty amazing.
And it occurred to me that this will be the future of fashion. Visions of the future often put people in identical silver jumpsuits, as if we’ve “gotten over” our obsession with outward appearances. But fashion is a creative pursuit. Though the industry can be vacuous and superficial, fashion itself can be artful. And so Girl Sense is probably a taste of the future – people won’t be wearing silver jumpsuits, but clothes they’ve designed online or clothes by other indie designers, once a site like Girl Sense merges with print on demand technology.
This is already being done in some respect on sites like Cafe Press or Zazzle, but the problem with those sites is the price of the merchandise. Once the price on print on demand merchandise comes down, everything’s going to break open, as people will be able to be creators and consumers of whatever they desire.
So self-publishing is really just the beginning of what’s going to be a print on demand world. Printing suede boots is a fairly complicated process compared to printing a book, so self-publishing is where the print on demand revolution is beginning. And this is why I find self-publishing so attractive. It gives each person a creative outlet. That someone might make – and wear – hideous boots is totally irrelevant, if that’s what they choose to do. Same goes with books – if someone’s a terrible writer, this doesn’t overwhelm the importance that the person has a creative outlet.
In the print on demand fashion world, there’s going to be an abundance of new fashion designs. Some would argue that this abundance will make it harder for people to find something that’s not hideous. So the consumer has to do a little extra work. That it’s “less convenient” isn’t a great argument because it’s sort of like saying “I don’t like this because it makes me think too much.” If consumers become more-active participants in what they’re buying, this makes for a smarter consumer. If that consumer doesn’t like what he or she sees, maybe they’ll make their own, improving on what’s available. In short, it will be a more-creative world, without a few corporations deciding what should be in the market.
When I look at angry diatribes like this against self-publishing, I never see someone acknowledging the creative potential of self-publishing:
You see, I love my publishers. Absolutely adore them. Couldn’t live without them. Furthermore, I think anyone who willingly abandons theirs in favour of self-publishing, is either delusional, a peremptory jackass – or both.
You’ll never hear from me that self-publishing is easy. It’s not. It’s hard. Harder than having a traditional publisher who will do at least some of the work. That’s a fairly easy argument to make. But these sorts of arguments are looking five minutes ahead. My attachment to self-publishing is that it’s a major part of the future. That I write science fiction ties into this, as I like thinking well ahead of where we are today. So when you bring up the ebook sales figures of 2010 to explain the publishing industry is myopic. Nowhere would I advocate that writers drop everything and self-publish if they don’t have the saleable brand name of someone like Seth Godin. But when ebooks are a majority share of the market? When Barnes and Noble doesn’t exist anymore? When everything is bought and sold online?
This scenario could take decades to play out – as could the print on demand fashion world. So my advocacy of self-publishing is about where the world’s going, not where the world is today. And frankly, it’s fun to be on the ground floor of a revolution.