Last week I launched a new website for my textbook Practical Time Series Forecasting. The website offers resources such as the datasets used in the book, a block with news that pushes posts to the book Facebook page, information about the book and author, for instructors an online form for requesting an evaluation copy and another for requesting access to solutions, etc.
I am already anticipating my colleagues' question "what platform did you use?". Well, I did not hire a web designer, nor did I spend three months putting the website together using HTML. Instead, I used Google Sites. This is a great solution for those who like to manage their book website on their own (whether you're self-publishing or not). Very readable, clean design, integration with other Google Apps components (such as forms), and as hack-proof as it gets. Not to mention easy to update and maintain, and free hosting.
Thanks to the tools and platforms offered by Google and Amazon, self-publishing is not only a good realistic option for authors. It also allows a much closer connection between the author and the book users -- instructors, students and "independent" readers.