Getting one's own book out without the help of a commercial publisher used to be known as "vanity publishing", and was generally frowned on by authors. Nowadays, however,the "papernet" and "podism" have opened up new horizons -- minority genres like poetry can now find a way to reach readers without the constraints imposed by sales figures and publishers' desire to create a brand or image. And the trend has put new life into the old-fashioned "paper book", which many had thought might be dying.
Above all, POD is potentially interactive. Manninen describes the recent phenomenon of the "unbook":
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The concept was invented by Jay Cross, an internet consultant known for his work on informal learning and systems thinking, and Dave Gray, the founder and chairman of XPLANE, a ‘visual thinking company’, although both imply that they are only describing practices which already exist.
Whereas a traditional book is published in editions whenever it gets revised (or it has sold out), an unbook is released in versions (1.0, 1.13, 2.0 etc) which are never finished but always open to feedback from readers. Both Cross and Gray have written books by bringing the readers along into the process of editing their content even before publication. As Gray says, ‘the dialogue is critically important to the development of the ideas, and now that I have tried this approach I can’t imagine doing a book any other way.’