In the last week there have been two great audio interviews on the future of books. I would say it’s not the future but more current, emerging and becoming more mainstream every day. I recommend you listen to them both! They will educate and inspire you and that’s what this blog is all about
The Future of Books and Publishing at Six Pixels of Separation
There’s one podcast I listen to avidly and that is Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation. It’s primarily a marketing blog and podcast but also talks a lot about new media, publishing and Mitch interviews a lot of authors of business books. It’s not usually aimed at writers but this episode is a definite must-listen podcast for those of you who enjoy audio.
Here are some key points I found interesting:
- Hugh’s new software PressBooks (currently in beta) is a simple online book production tool. It’s based on WordPress software and produces a print book as well as an ebook but it’s also all online so it can be given away for free as well. This enables all the analytics to be tracked as people join in and share online.
- How Amazon is a tech company with an amazing amount of analytics on their customers which enables them to compete aggressively. (For us as authors, this is a great thing as it fuels the Amazon algorithms that help sell our books.)
- The key thing is the connection between readers and authors. You have to control that connection to the customer and Amazon has this. (This is also why we are building online platforms, so we can connect directly to readers)
- “You have talent on one side and customers on the other and the middle is the engine of marketing.” Mitch Joel. Connecting the two is the key and Amazon has this.
- Amazon as a publisher has signed Deepak Chopra now, as well as a lot of other authors including Tim Ferriss.
- The first book on the PressBook platforms is “Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto. A collection of essays from the bleeding edge of publishing” published by O’Reilly media. You can read some of it online here.
- A discussion on the value of print books and books in general. The way of reading on the Kindle with sampling and having no time for books that don’t immediately grab you.
- “It’s the context, not the container.” This underlies everything. What can you do as a writer/publisher to make things better for your reader? This is the important thing.
On the future of books: A discussion with Seth Godin
In an interview with Leo Babauta on Zen Habits, thought leader and marketing guru Seth Godin talks about:
- How the current changes in publishing are scary for those people who want someone to pick them and just write but fantastically exciting for those writers who can embrace the change and pick themselves
- There is an abundance of shelf-space online. It’s not about shelf space, it’s about finding a tribe and developing relationships and selling to those people. Your job is to connect and create your own community around your work. Then you have the power to market to them. It’s not about the table by the cash register at Borders, it’s your ability to attract a passionate tribe and then fulfil the needs of those people.
- Really think about what needs to go into a physical book form and whether your ideas could be disseminated in other ways. Seth mentions how books will become 99c or $1.99 ebooks that people devour like popcorn (the John Locke model) and then a few very specific books that will be hardback or collector’s items and many more that will need to be sold to the tribe e.g. idea type books like his own.
There’s much more in this interview and one of my takeaways is that I feel I’m in the right place for the publishing shift. When I started this blog, there was a huge stigma against self-publishing but that lessens everyday and these two interviews on such high profile blogs prove that this model is not going away.
Read the blog on The Domino Project, Seth’s (very successful) experiment in publishing here
Leo’s blog Zen Habits is also brilliant and focuses on minimalism if that’s something you’re interested in.
What do you think? Are you excited about what’s happening in the publishing industry?