Go Read This | Seth’s Blog: Moving on

I’ve been interested to read Seth’s reasoning since I read his comments first on GalleyCat. I think he puts the radical case for there being no need for publishers pretty well and he highlights to me the danger that exists for publishers with their top rated talent.

On the other hand this piece calls out for a response, one that says the value of collecting, curating and promoting not just the ideas of one man, or one group but all the ideas about or around a niche that matter and building on that a community and services that community values.

The thing is–now I know who my readers are. Adding layers or faux scarcity doesn’t help me or you. As the medium changes, publishers are on the defensive…. I honestly can’t think of a single traditional book publisher who has led the development of a successful marketplace/marketing innovation in the last decade. The question asked by the corporate suits always seems to be, “how is this change in the marketplace going to hurt our core business?” To be succinct: I’m not sure that I serve my audience (you) by worrying about how a new approach is going to help or hurt Barnes & Noble.

My audience does things like buy five or ten copies at a time and distribute them to friends and co-workers. They (you) forward blog posts and PDFs. They join online discussion forums. None of these things are supported by the core of the current corporate publishing model.

Since February, I’ve shared my thoughts about the future of publishing in both public forums and in private brainstorming sessions with various friends in top jobs in the publishing industry. Other than one or two insightful mavericks, most of them looked at me like I was nuts for being an optimist. One CEO worked as hard as she could to restrain herself, but failed and almost threw me out of her office by the end. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t heartbroken at the fear I saw.

via Seth’s Blog: Moving on.

6 thoughts on “Go Read This | Seth’s Blog: Moving on

  1. Seth is right, so right – I suspect. Of course I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable to know. I don’t know enough mainstream publishers – or publishers of any ilk.
    But Seth feels right – and I already love him. His thinking has been so valuable to me – helped me think more rigorously about how to do business.

    As a person with stuff I want published, I am debating with myself what to do. I made the mistake of hoarding stuff – in the hope I’d get round to offering it to a conventional publisher. I was like a painter who piled up canvas – until there was no space to store it. Like a photographer who gathered a huge portfolio – and died without sharing much of it.

    I think Seth is drawing attention to how easy and satisfying it is to share your work with others via the internet.

    1. I think he’s spot on alright Paul! It seems to me that the shift is actually pretty dramatic and most publishers just haven’t realized it. That doesn’t mean they can’t become relavant again, just that they will not be able todo so and stay as they are!

  2. How about compiling a list of individuals in publishing to do get it – get the magnitude of the revolution that’s underway?

    A sort of “hall of fame” that could grow? Maybe there are some exceptions to the generalisation?

    Within most organisations there are those who look over the horizon – by disposition. There are also those who are natural spies & scouts – converts that haven’t yet come out?

    You’re in a good position to know. You could even start a list without publishing it – and let people know privately that “you are our hope for the future”.

    PS – Now I realise what “The Shipping News” was all about.

  3. Ahhh but Seth Godin really made his name on the internet, so he’s only cutting off a tributary that didn’t work so well for him. I mean, the man has published 12 books, but was he a household name before the blog? No, although he may have been known to his niche market. In my mind, that’s just a rather less than successful publishing career. Authors who aren’t well known already need a publisher to promote and distribute them.

    However, I do agree that publishers are not making the most of the market as it actually stands. Big business ruined publishing because it put expectations on it that book selling cannot hope to reach. So it’s pointless to keep pushing the structures of big business onto struggling houses. When you look at the industry you see way too many layers, with everyone requiring a cut of meagre profits, and endless obstacles put up between books and their outlets. Bookstores need to stop screwing publishers and work with them, publishers need to collaborate with one another (I don’t buy Random House titles to the exclusion of other publishers because I like them best) and that whole complex infrastructure of agents needs to go. Believe you me, having worked with them, I find they are more of a hindrance than a help, beyond selling foreign rights.

    Well that’s just what I think from the author end of things!

    1. Litlove,

      it’s great to see your name on a comment once again.
      With regard to Seth Godin’s publishing career, I humbly suggest that it’s better than 99% of other authors. Reading his track record would instill jealousy in most authors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seth_Godin#Bibliography).

      On the other hand, you make his point for him. Publishers couldn’t reach the market he wanted to reach as well as he could himself thus he is moving onto new channels.

      Generally I agree that only those who have a brand can do this. However, those big, branded authors are the major source of publisher income. If they go, major revenue goes and the system falls down. Think of it like the small publisher who finds and moulds a new talent only to lose them to a BIG SIX publisher (happend a lot to small markets like Ireland) thus losing the return for their investment. It makes them much less inclined to invest in talent.

      The exceptions to the above are those who can BUILD a brand for themselves using social media, blogs and word or mouth. That’s pretty hard though and I’d never expect many to actually achieve it. But the key is, if they have the ability to build that brand, they DON’T need publishers to distribute and market their work.


  4. While marketing is the great buzz word in epublishing I’d hate to think that it became the end game. While admirably, Seth Godin has has great marketability, he does not register on the literary radar. The plight of literary writers (of whom Ireland is justly proud) who struggle to find an internet readership, is one that will be with us for some considerable time. These artistic souls do not have the wherewithal or skills to find an audience, yet it is largely their aesthetic endeavour that will define the advance of literature into the digital age. There is here an unprecedented opportunity for readers as critics to unearth the new ‘Joyce’ or ‘Flann O’Brien’ of the twenty first century.

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