I know, again with the Passive Voice, but it's a great blog! And he has a really good post today that features Mike Shatzkin saying, "Hey, most self-pubbed authors won't go the DIY route," and Passive Guy saying, "Oh yes they will."
Given my experience in the encyclopedia industry, I have to agree with PG. We certainly liked to think that what we did was Very Important indeed, but consumers decided that it was not nearly so important as being to access similar information for free.
And I have another example to point to: Amanda Hocking. I finally read My Blood Approves (the library had a hard copy, howzabout that). I thought the book was OK, but bear in mind that romance is really not my thing--that said, her female lead was relatively free of self-loathing.
From a production standpoint, however, the book was bad. I found several errors in there that you simply wouldn't see in a traditionally-published book, even in the sort of really cheap mass-market paperbacks that are notorious for typos. The thing that drove me crazy was that frequently the wrong word appeared--a word that sounded like the word Hocking meant, but wasn't it. That's a terrible mistake for an editor or proofreader to let through, because it makes your author look stupid and ignorant. (I'm not shocked that one of her main reasons for signing with a traditional publisher was to get decent copy editing!)
So, have those kind of below-par production values hurt Hocking's sales? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA-HAHAHA-Aha. Ha. Oh, you know that was joke, right? The same errors that made me want to hunt down the people she hired and punch them in the nose mattered not at all to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who bought her books. For 99 cents, people will sort through slush. For 99 cents, they'll tolerate typos and errors (especially if the $17 books are no better). It's just 99 cents, fer Christ's sake!