A technological disruption is loosening traditional publishers' grip on the book market, reports the Wall Street Journal—and giving new power to technology companies like Amazon to shape which books and authors succeed. Much as blogs have bitten into the news business and YouTube has challenged television, digital self-publishing is creating a powerful new niche in books that's threatening the traditional industry. Once derided as "vanity" titles by the publishing establishment, self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment. "If you are an author and you want to reach a lot of readers, up until recently you were...

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staff and wire services reports