Will the Innovation Dominoes Fall and Disrupt the Book Publishing Industry?
“The enemy is not piracy, the enemy is obscurity.” – Tim O’Reilly
I came across a TechCrunch TV interview with Seth Godin today about his future publishing plans.
I’ve been wondering what Seth meant when he told me last year at the World Innovation Forum that he would never publish another traditional book. Here is the video:
Now, he has made it clear what he meant, and just what his future plans are in the below video from Tech Crunch. His plans have a name, The Domino Project, and it is a publishing house venture he is undertaking with Amazon and it starts with a simple question:
How do you make a book spreadable?
Right now books work very hard against being spreadable, and in Amazon’s continuing quest to evolve the book business beyond just selling ebooks and blogs on Kindle, they apparently approached Seth Godin, gave him a blank sheet of paper to envision a new way of approaching book publishing. He described this collaboration with Amazon – The Domino Project – through a series of questions:
What happens if we allowed you to buy a 5-pack for only slightly more than one book? Wouldn’t you then give four of them away to people who would be interested in reading them?
What happens if we allowed people to share a Kindle book for free for a certain period of time and then try to figure out how to make money from it?
Can you dream big enough?
Can you do something that is worth doing, or will you hold back and play it safe?
Amazon will be working directly with authors – including Ralph Waldo Emerson. Godin’s new book will of course be included (and will be on initiative). He also mentioned that the trend of these new books will be towards the spectrum of manifestos. Traditional book publishers can’t do 96 page books, but The Domino Project can. Godin says that the success of the effort will be measured on whether or not the first 10,000 people who get the book, actually share it.
So, what was the most depressing part of the interview?
“The average American buys one book a year.”
Will The Domino Project successfully disintermediate the traditional publishing houses and transform how authors go about publishing book? Is there anything here that is actually new? What do you think?
Here’s the video interview if you would like to watch it for yourself:
Seth Godin’s new book Poke the Box will be The Domino Project’s first title and it will come as a limited edition, a hardcover, a Kindle ebook, an audiobook, a 5-pack, and a 52-pack.
Oh, and if you don’t have my a copy of my book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire already, it’s available on Amazon as a hardcover or a Kindle eBook, or from other great physical and online booksellers:
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When is a book no longer a book? I like Godin’s idea of helping to spread books, but I’m not sure about writing “manifesto” style. Is the answer to people not reading, to make things that are simple and so easy to consume that they will? I guess, as Godin says, I’m just one of the people that could be turned off since I read books and look for something that will make me think.
“The enemy is not piracy, the enemy is obscurity.” I love that and think it applies to so much more than publishing. Also, to clarify, do American on average read one book per year or buy one book per year?
Good catch Pete – It’s ‘buys’ not ‘reads’ – I’ve updated…
Stu – I think the key point is that traditional book publishers are prisoners to the physical book stores in much the same way that Compaq was to the big box stores when Dell came along. But at the same, I’m still struggling to see how what Seth Godin is doing is any different than self-publishing via Amazon or using someone like Greenleaf Book Group.
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Interviewer: talk less. Much less.
Love to hear Seth Godin talk. Not the interviewer, learn to interview where more airtime is given to the guest.
What is new here? I have been following this on his site and am still unsure what is the “revolutionary” part. Selling multi-packs? Exploiting your follows (fans) to purchase more books than they need in order to do your marketing for you? (By giving them away)
It is a niche amazon only publishing house. How is not being in a book shop helping to spread the book? How does a device specific ebook (kindle) make it easy to share?
Why are books hard to share? I have found that passing a book to a friends hand has always served quite well at spreading a good read. It’s been done that way for quite some time. Books in libraries, in schools, at a friends house, in a shop. They are small and portable, why is that hard to share?
What am I missing here?