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Seth Godin Vows to Never Publish Traditionally Again

Submitted by on August 23, 2010 – 7:33 am4 Comments

According to our book friends at GalleyCat, Seth Godin doesn’t see fit to use a publishing system from 1907 to sell his books, nudging people to a store they don’t usually visit, to buy something they don’t usually buy; not when he can reach “10 or 50 times as many people electronically”.

On the heels of that, The Wall Street Journal released a video last Friday saying it is the end of bookstores as we know them (by the way, Fresh Impact PR is in the thread). In light of what happened to the record stores only 8 years ago, the WSJ reporter believes that digital ebook readers are going to do to the bookstores what the iPod did to the record industry. It is true that bookstores have reinvented themselves in the past, but in this case, the product is literally going away – to online and digital format.

Are authors morphing with the industry? Seth Godin is. He’ll join the ranks of many authors publishing their own books in digital format as readers download books to their ebook readers. But not all are. I had an author call me a few months ago asking for help; turns out, he didn’t even know if his book was available in ebook form. I hate to say it, but uneducated authors like that will lose sales and market share.   

Parting with bookstores though will prove harder. My wife and I have enjoyed many dates and business meetings in a bookstore; R. J. Julia’s in Madison, Connecticut is one of our favorites. How about you? Will you miss browsing the aisles of a store or wanting to read a physical book in your hand…or is this the final tipping point for bookstores nationwide? If more authors move in Godin’s direction, I believe it will only be a matter of time.

  • Kerry

    A very timely post. Seth Godin and the analyst speaking on the WSJ network are dead-on. Physical books and book stores will vanish at an alarming rate. If you find that a stretch, take a look at your local Blockbuster store, if you can find one. A year from now, it is highly unlikely you’ll still see it there.

    Digitization is a game changer. Even though there have been at least 2 examples ( video and music ) that have shown the inevitable future, most publishers and authors are sticking their collective heads in the sand and hoping it’s not true.

    For progressive thinking authors, publishers, PR professionals and agents, this change represents one of the most exciting times in publishing. Little has changed in publishing since Guttenberg pressed his first bible. As intimidating as the change to digitial publishing may seem, there are many more benefits to those willing to embrace change.

    No longer will an author need to clear cut a forest’s worth of pulp and shell out thousands on a print run. Delivery delays are non existant. Minimum runs a thing of the past. Some may argue they miss trudging out in the cold at midnight for the release of the nest Harry Potter that their child has been anticipating. For me, clicking the buy button in the warmth and safety of my home sounds like a better option.

  • Solid feedback Kerry and the Blockbusters are a great example as well. Embracing change is for sure a key in staying on the ‘bleeding edge’ of all these trends.

  • What would I miss? At my book signing this weekend at Faith Family Books & Gifts in Toronto, I was delighted to meet people who were buying my book. Seeing them in person and finding out why they were excited about the book was an experience I loved.

    Having read Godin’s “Long Tail” however, I can see how his vision has been right on about a lot already. As an author, you can bet I’m keeping an eye on this!

  • Glad you enjoyed a signing this weekend Cathi. Those are few and far between these days. Good to know you are aware of all this and staying educated. Make sure your books are available in as many formats as possible!