While much has been written about independent book publishing and online retailing, one factor remains as an enormous handicap for self-publishing authors. It is cost of postage and shipping of books.
As with all things internet, an author’s potential market is international. Online retailers are useful in this regard, but what of an author’s own marketing and delivery? As an individual author it is not possible to obtain the competitive shipping rates of volume suppliers such as the major publishers. So authors spend a lot of time at the post office. Shelling out a lot of money.
No matter where you live, self-publishing services are based in the US predominantly. Therefore the first cost for an author is the shipment of new books for his or her own distribution. I live in Switzerland and in my case the shipping cost per book is DOUBLE my wholesale price for a book. (And yes, this is for a bulk order of books.) Then, if I want to send on a copy myself, I have another postage fee of at least DOUBLE the original book price. (Totally forget about hard cover in this example as the postage rates for heavier items are astronomical.)
As books transit the world eating fossil fuels in the process just maybe there is a valid reason for adopting e-books as an alternative. Even if they don’t feel and smell the same.