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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seth Godin Abandons Traditional Publishing

Seth Godin recently announced that Linchpin was the last book he would publish the traditional way.

"Traditional book publishers use techniques perfected a hundred years ago to help authors reach unknown readers, using a stable technology (books) and an antique and expensive distribution system. The thing is--now I know who my readers are. Adding layers or faux scarcity doesn't help me or you." (Seth Godin, Moving On, Aug 23/2010)

It's funny, before I read Linchpin, when I was listening to a podcast interview with him, he was talking about that book being his life's work, it made me wonder what he was going to do next.  I rather enjoyed Linchpin and was worried that he might not publish another book.  I enjoyed every single one of Godin's books that I read, and, fortunately for me, there are still a few for me to pick up. It doesn't matter if some of them were published almost 10 years ago. They're all still quite relevant.

Godin is a smart guy, and has online connections with an endless supply of readers - so I'm sure that whatever he embarks on it will be successful. But a part of me (and not just the bookseller part of me) is disappointed to see him abandon the publishing industry.

Here's why:

My introduction to Godin which was just a few years ago, was when a friend handed me a physical copy of Permission Marketing and said: "You have GOT to read this!" I did. That act turned me into a fan who needed to go out and start reading as many of the man's books as I could get my hands on. I also started following his blog and listening to interviews of him or Godin speaking via online video and podcasts. But I kept reading his books.

The main disappointment I had was the fact I bought an ebook version of Linchpin through an e-reader that I don't use very often. The experience of reading the ebook was a good one, but my biggest frustration is that I can't now refer to passages that I made notes in (the reader allowed me to write in the margins, add typed notes, etc, so it was a pretty fancy ereader), because it's currently not charged up. Whereas, within reach, I can grab a copy of Permission Marketing and easily flip it open to a particular passage and quote from it, or, better yet, put it into the hands of a friend and say: "Take this and read it!"

Yes, I "get" where Godin is going and why he is deciding to do this - but I'm disappointed that this new path might very well lead to the loss of one of the wonderful ways in which the man's great thoughts and ideas are shared and cultivated. After all, there's a whack of great content online but books themselves are often linchpins when it comes to the mass sharing of ideas outside of the digital/electronic realm, because they allow for focusing in on a very specific set of ideas, such as the ones that Godin spent over a decade sharing with the world via the book.

1 comment:

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