Aside from traditional publishing and self-publishing, there is also print on demand publishing. Print-on-demand publishing exists in the middle ground between self-publishing, or online publishing. Instead of being vetted by a traditional publisher, or taking on costly printing expenses, or never being read due to over-population of ebook titles, print-on-demand is just what it sounds like: the author hands the title over to an internet service that prints out a single copy of the title each time it is ordered. Various deals can be cut out, based on copyright, anticipated popularity, length and other printing costs, and so on. According to Forbes as of 2011, “AdvisorPress www.advisorpress.com is a good [service]. They will create the book, print one at a time, take individual or bulk orders for the book, and ship the book. Some also offer e-Books as well as the printed copies. They usually give a royalty of anywhere from 10-30% if you are interested in the profit option, (but AdvisorPress offers 60% and has alliances with other distribution sources.) You keep copyright if negotiated.” (LeBlanc)
The downside to print on demand, according to this Forbes article is that “with most POD publishers, you do all the marketing and “push” readers and buyers to their site.” So the little fish in the big sea problem of e-books still stands. The upside is that the enterprising author can get the word about the book out on any number of platforms.
The enterprising entrepreneur, then, could create a service that combines print-on-demand with a social networking element to make their service one that fills this market of aspiring famous authors who aren’t getting picked up by traditional publishers.