These last couple weeks, there have been two things that have really caught the attention of publishers and author.
1) Amanda Hocking. She's 26, and she's self-published 9 novels to the Kindle. As of this month, she's sold more than 1 million books that way. Even at $2.99 or less per book, which is what she's charging, the general assumption is that no publisher could offer her a better deal than what she's getting from Amazon.
2) Barry Eisler. He's a New York Times bestselling author, who writes spy thrillers. He turned down a $500,000 advance from a publisher in order to self-publish his next book.
His rationale is: over time, self-publishing will make him more. Here's the math:
In order to get any money after the $500,000 advance, he first has to sell enough books to justify the advance. At the rate publishers pay, that's roughly $1/book. So he needs to sell 500,000 books before he makes any more money from it. But! If he's got a name and a following, he could sell that book on Amazon for, say, $6.99 when it's released and take 70% of that, earning almost $5 per book instead of $1. So he only has to sell a fifth as many books to make $500,000, and then, after that, he's still making 5x as much per book. Even if he drops the price later, he's still doing really well, especially when you consider that most books (except the classics or huge hits) go out of print a few years after they're published. But not with an ebook. It can be on sale forever basically.
Amanda Hocking turned a lot of heads. The fact that a bestselling author would choose to do the same is a signal of the change happening.