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Whither Books?

October 3, 2010 6:46:59.000

I think Seth Godin is on to something. He's written a dozen books, but he's quoted in an interview saying this:

“I’ve decided not to publish any more books in the traditional way. 12 for 12 and I’m done. I like the people, but I can’t abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don’t usually visit to buy something they don’t usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that’s hard to spread … I really don’t think the process is worth the effort that it now takes to make it work. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically. No, it’s not ‘better’, but it’s different. So while I’m not sure what format my writing will take, I’m not planning on it being the 1907 version of hardcover publishing any longer.”

That sounds about right to me. iTunes (and the various streaming models like Pandora) have completely disintermediated music. It's possible for an artist to sell music without the huge number of middle men now; I think the same thing is about to happen with books. That's terrifying to the publishers of course, but the RIAA wasn't (and still isn't, for that matter) happy either. Technology is going to drive more people in the direction that Godin is taking.

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posted by James Robertson

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