Robin Writes A Book: Everything Old Is New Again

There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.

Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
US author & satirist (1842 – 1914)

This may just be the coolest thing I have come across today!
I love the draft premise for the text and enjoy that he references one of my favourite writers, Gabriel Zaid who wrote one of my favourite books So Many Books, which was published by one of my favourite publishers Sort of Books in pitching for your support. Genius!

Hold on a second though
Although this is a great story and one worth watching and following (speaking of which, CNet covers it well, here) the whole project raises a few big questions:

    1) What does this mean for Writers?
    2) What does this mean for Readers?
    3) What does this mean for Publisher?
    And
    4) What does this mean for Booksellers?

1) Writers
If this proves anything it is that the publishing world has shifted. You can and will have the opportunity to connect with readers directly. it is a chance you MUST seize. You need to be taking specific actions to make sure that in a year, or two or three you too can connect like Robin has. In short you need to become strategic. ARE YOU READY FOR PRIMETIME?

2) Readers
Boy are you in for some fun! Writers and publishers are waking up to the fact that you have not one, but two valuable assets in your hands. The first is the one we have always seen and that is money. The second is attention and Robin has show yet another way in which capturing that can lead to money. You have a lot of power in this system, but as everyone knows, WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY. You may well be determining the future of our literary culture when you give something your attention. Remember that!

3) Publishers
What more can be said? Read my post from earlier this week and answer me this, with that much energy and verve, HOW COME ROBIN SLOAN IS NOT ALREADY UNDER CONTRACT?

4) Booksellers
Nothing in this is comforting for booksellers, except one thing, passion (and books, but that’s two things). People are passionate about books, they love them, reader or writers. They make videos about them and they convert people to them. If you could harness Robin Sloan and his ilk, bring their passion for the books you sell into your store somehow, you could provide a much more community-like atmosphere, perhaps even become the hub for book related discussion and debate, sell coffee, services and books, just as many independents and chains do now, and with passion win over customers, readers writers and publishers. I HAVE NO ADVICE OF A SOLID NATURE. I wish I did.

One final thought
Thinking this through, it is also a reversion to an older method of publishing one based on pre-subscribed patrons to finance a work. This model has merit in this age of confusion and broken systems! Good luck to Robin!

My brain is buzzing tonight, it really is!
Eoin

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2 comments

  1. Wow. The future of books IS exciting! What I keep hearing, in Robin’s video, in many blogs, but what is not often explicitly said, is that the market for books is much larger than what we acknowledge. I used to go to a book store to discover new authors, to be inspired to learn new endeavors. I don’t anymore. I don’t go to bookstores. I use the internet to select books to read. I buy books through the internet. I don’t want to read the top 10 books of the year. I don’t want to read the top 100 authors. They do not interest me. I can find books that interest me on-line. I am probably the only person in my city with my particular interests, but there is another person in another city, and another person in another city… Because a book is not a best seller and therefore is not where the publisher makes their profit does not equate to all the non best sellers are not best sellers because people do not want to read them. By it’s very definition not all books can be best sellers. There are books that have been written that I have pre-ordered that a publisher has decided not to print because of a prediction of sales not to a number they want. That does not mean the market does not exist. It means the publisher can not publish the book at a price point for their profit. We seem to keep skirting the issue that the quality of the book is not the issue, the market for the book is not the issue, it is the profit. Today, as pointed out by Robin, there are exciting new options and methods for acquiring profit from books. This can mean more books, more authors, more happy readers. I miss going to bookstores, and there is this one book that had it’s print canceled that I will probably be irked about forever.

  2. Hi Eoin,

    This looks like a really interesting blog (saw just your post on the Writers and Artists webblog). I’m fascinated by the Internet and publishing , and have self-published an online CD of my piano playing.

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