October 1, 2010

"I’ve decided not to publish any more books in the traditional way. 12 for 12 and I’m done."

"I like the people, but I can’t abide the long wait, the filters, the big push at launch, the nudging to get people to go to a store they don’t usually visit to buy something they don’t usually buy, to get them to pay for an idea in a form that’s hard to spread … I really don’t think the process is worth the effort that it now takes to make it work. I can reach 10 or 50 times as many people electronically."


q12345q6789 said...

My first thought was a cynical one. It reminded me of Radiohead's "In Rainbows" album that was originally only released as a digital download that downloaders could pay as little as they wanted ($0) to get it... It was hailed as a triumph of new media publishing techniques but I am just barely old enough to remember the tons and tons of dollars on promotional materials, music videos, management and support, etc that were spent by the music label to make sure that they became superstars. I was less impressed (but I do ultimately support more money for artists, less money for bullshit music industry jobs and billionaire moguls).
Ultimately this stance he is taking is a luxury he can afford because he is already very well known.

rcocean said...

Who is Seth Godin?

Paul Kirchner said...

What a funny looking guy. Looks like Dopey in the Seven Dwarves.

elliot said...

You're sort of late to this party, Ann. You're usually way ahead of the curve.

Synova said...

He looks unwell.

And the thing is... the traditional publishing that he is so against is going to make his non-traditional efforts successful.

Oh... looks like the first comment already pointed that out.

Also, ditto on the second.

And it's not that I'm against "new" publishing, but for all the fuss over gate-keepers, that's what we're going to have to take with us from the "old" publishing. There has to be a way for consumers to find products. It's not going to happen by magic that I turn on my computer and get the sort of music or books that I want to listen to or read. Both Amazon and Google are doing sorting and recommendations and I go to Hulu.com and they "suggest" according to my history and that all works fairly well.

But you've got to have something to sort *first*.

You need a gate-keeper, slush-pile reader, please-dear-god-editor, and marketing. There is a *reason* that people avoid anything self-published unless it's purchased as a favor... and then if it's good it's a happy surprise.

Bartender Cabbie said...

He looks a tad like an alien. The space kind I mean.

Alison said...

I read Godin's blog and see his point. The 'net is always going to be a better medium for his content.

Yet when I'm reading dense theory or carefully crafted literature I'll always want a hard copy, except when an e-reader lets my grad student self assigned hundreds of articles save $ on printing.

Different purposes, goals and priorities should cause us to select different options that best match given our situation.

A key point to remember: we should be making the best selection for our goals and priorities, not choosing the latest upgrade for its own sake.

Chip Ahoy said...

If he made pop-up books he wouldn't be talking like this.

Did I ever mention that I invented the idea of electronic books? Well,I did! There I was on my bicycle riding circles around my Dad's driveway idly thinking to myself, killing time as I do, "What if we didn't have any books made of paper? They could all be electronic books and we could read them on small hand-held computers made specifically to hold and present book data with illustrations. Each computer could hold lots of books. It would be cheaper and possibly better" And then later I thought, "I wonder how long it's going to take for us to have those electronic books." And then later I thought, "I wonder why that electronic book thing is taking so long to be invented." And then I thought, "Goddamnit, do I have to actually invent them myself?" Then at last when I lost interest in seeing electronic books I thought, "Finally. What took so long you slow-ass bastards?" Now I'm not interested.

traditionalguy said...

The really hip writers are going back to memeograph paper in multi colors. This fights depression caused by black ink on white backgrounds. Much like Organic Farming, it is pure. Oh, who cares what he writes on anyway.

edutcher said...

He says, "... the nudging to get people to go to a store they don’t usually visit to buy something they don’t usually buy...".

Maybe it's not the medium that's an issue, maybe his message isn't that swell.

Robert Cook said...

Readers don't have to be nudged to go to bookstores. If anything, we visit them too often and buy books faster than we can read them, piling them up in stacks labeled "to read."

I enjoy the convenience of having eBooks on my iPhone, and I've read several novels on it already, and I'll enjoy the experience even more, I'm sure, when I get an iPad. However, I still prefer and love physical books, and actually feel a sense of almost reverence for them just as physical objects, aside from their content.

The only downside to buying physical books is that one runs out of space for them, and one also has to consider the disposition of the books if one has to move or if one becomes sick or when one dies. But, I'll live with the downside.

Andrea said...

"There is a *reason* that people avoid anything self-published unless it's purchased as a favor... and then if it's good it's a happy surprise."

Funny, I feel the same way about traditionally published books that have made it through the gauntlet of the supposedly superior taste and discernment of the "gatekeepers": if it's good it's a happy surprise. More often, though, I'm disappointed and feel like I've wasted my money (or if it's a library book, my time).

The idea that traditional publishing is some sort of protector and defender of good taste and high kulchah and protects us proles from bad lit is not now if it ever was based on reality. The truth is if you want to get published by a trad house you need connections, some way of getting your stuff past the "gatekeeper" in charge of new manuscripts, who more than likely is a twenty-something college grad with a heavy debt and a head full of PC bullshit. (This is why you had better have made your heroine a black lesbian paraplegic telepathic crimefighting vampire.) Of course it helps to have already made it through the ten-thousand arbitrary hurdles trad publishers put up when you decide to go solo, but that's no reason to keep this industry perking along. God alone knows how many good reads have been discarded in favor of marketing the next "Chicken Soup for the Transgendered Cyborg Soul" tome. New writers, keep your day jobs and publish on Lulu: at least you'll see your book in print, even if it's only just one copy. And your friends and relatives will at least have the opportunity to buy it, which they won't have if you haven't been pegged as the next Franzen by a traditional publisher.

America's Politico said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
America's Politico said...

The best books that I have read in many years are the two by President Obama. He is an amazing author. He is an amazing leader. It is not surprise to us (and to future historians) that he will be in the White House (Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2017).

This is the right call for all Americans - so thanks!

N.B.: Even historians who are in GOP (heaven forbid) also privately feel the joy of this White House occupant.

MrBuddwing said...

he best books that I have read in many years are the two by President Obama.

I can believe that.

Word verification: ovksol.

Bartender Cabbie said...

Did Obama really write those books? How would he have had the time what with his community activism and all. Ha ha.

former law student said...

You buy business buzz books like Godin's to leave on your desk or credenza to make visitors think you're current. Think Thomas Friedman.

Kirk Parker said...

Once again, in the spirit of unity: it's wonderful to have a Robert Cook comment that I can agree with in its entirety.

Well, almost entirely: for me it's a Droid rather than an iPhone, but that's such a small matter when otherwise there's so much book love going on...

Synova said...

Andrea, I don't necessarily disagree.

Except for the fact that a mass market paper-back is $8 and a self published trade paperback is $15.

And I'm not even arguing that we can't do something *else* that works better than what has been done in the past. Just that the big problem (and I think you'd agree) is in pairing up books with readers.

I like a lot of what Baen is doing. You can read nearly half a book for free before paying to read the end of it, or you can order their whole list for a fraction of what each volume would cost separately in electronic form each month.

But then, Baen is *trying* to ride the front of the wave of the future instead of worrying primarily about people getting away without paying for something instead of how to expose more people to more authors.

Synova said...

"Once again, in the spirit of unity: it's wonderful to have a Robert Cook comment that I can agree with in its entirety."